SA ‘lacks skills for e-learning’

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According to its report, six of the nine provinces do not consider themselves ready to introduce e-learning.

Cape Town - South Africa lacks the skills and infrastructure to introduce e-learning technologies, according to a report by Via Afrika.

For its survey, Via Afrika, a publisher of textbooks, sent a questionnaire to information and communication technology officials at the nine provincial education departments.

According to its report, six of the nine provinces do not consider themselves ready to introduce e-learning.

A small percentage of schools in every province except the Western Cape do not have electricity.

The survey also found only 32 percent of teachers were trained to give instruction using e-learning technology.

“The problem is that e-learning does need facilitation, so that will remain an obstacle,” said Arthur Goldstuck, the chief executive of World Wide Worx, a consultancy in internet and mobile technology.

“The other obstacle is bandwidth and data because e-learning is potentially bandwidth-intensive.”

Also, many pupils did not have the internet at home.

E-learning technologies include interactive textbooks and educational games that may be self-paced or instructor-led.

These technologies have become increasingly popular in schools throughout Europe and the US as teachers try to prepare pupils from a young age for the greater computer-literacy demands of the workplace.

“E-learning is an obvious route for education in South Africa in terms of getting material to people with few physical sources,” Goldstuck said.

“It is an excellent solution in terms of the cost of education.”

Micheal Goodman, the group publishing manager at Via Africa, said that the country had overcome a number of obstacles to introducing e-learning technologies.

The survey found there had been a significant push from government agencies to incorporate e-learning in the classroom.

Yet there were serious inconsistencies among the provinces.

“We found a lot of contradictory information about policies on e-learning in different provinces,” Goodman said.

“Information sharing seems to be lacking between the provinces.”

Looking to the future, Goodman said: “I would hope that every child will have a tablet.

“It would be great if there was some connectivity, but that’s a long-term goal.

“I would say we are five or 10 years away from that.” - Cape Times

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