Pretoria - One of the biggest challenges to South Africa’s future success is overcoming obstacles in education. One promising approach, being tested out in schools across the country, is to take advantage of technology trends and institute educational models based on e-learning.
Innovations in technology are dramatically lowering the previously prohibitive cost of deploying these solutions on a large scale.
From textbooks being brought to life with video enhancements and augmented reality, to apps that allow pupils to test themselves, the forms of e-learning are multitudinous.
Via Afrika chief executive Christina Watson says these new solutions
“represent a seismic shift in education, particularly the teacher’s roles”. Via Afrika is one of the country’s leading educational publishers with more than 60 years’ experience. It has recently invested in digital education initiatives.
Kirsty Chadwick, founder of the e-learning design and development company, The Training Room Online, said: “E-learning can help the teacher to stay on course with their teachings and at the same time help the students by granting them access to the material whenever and wherever they need it.”
The Training Room Online specialises in creating innovative, cost-effective and customised digital learning solutions. It strives to provide online and computer based e-learning material to suit any requirement.
As increasing numbers of schools go digital, many teachers are witnessing a change in their roles. “In the classroom of tomorrow, the teacher is no longer the lone transmitter of information, standing in front of a class giving 30 minute long lectures to pupils, but assuming a new role as facilitator, coach and guide,” said Watson.
For effective e-learning there has to be a constructive overlap between content, pedagogy and technology. “In terms of technology, we not only require the device, but also the infrastructure to support the device.
“We also need to ensure the competency of pupils and educators to use the device and what it can and cannot do. We often harp on about the need for e-learning content to be engaging, while forgetting the importance of it remaining relevant to the curriculum.”
Watson said for e-learning to be effective, teachers will have to change their ideas on how lessons are presented, and pupils assessed.
This change will see fewer pupils sitting listening to the teacher and more teachers being on the side-lines listening to what the pupils are doing and saying and providing guidance.
Watson stressed the importance of training when it comes to teachers in the digital classroom. “Training educators in these new technologies must be outcome specific. We cannot have the one-size-fits-all approach. In as much as we tout the benefits of e-learning ‘individualising’ the learning process for a pupil, we need to look at the training of our teachers in the same way.”
Chadwick said with e-learning the teacher’s role remains vital, but changes to one of being effective facilitators, coaches and guides. Thus, the technology at the centre of the classrooms of tomorrow must not leave teachers behind.