The South African education sector faces growing challenges, from a lack of facilities to outdated teacher training certifications, resulting in an overall lack of passion within the teaching profession. We are creating an obstructive situation for learners and educators.
Without an updated curriculum, teachers cannot help learners achieve an education relevant to the current economy. A challenging school infrastructure may cause children to remain uninspired, deterring school attendance. An enthusiastic teacher may be able to create initiative and inspire learning, without adequate facilities their efforts are stymied, creating a vicious negatively reinforced cycle.
Technology is evolving at a dizzying pace and schools need to stay abreast of these developments because they nurture the workforce of tomorrow. In doing this, education can be made relevant again as well as producing teachers and learners to become productive members of a highly technology driven society.
One example is the cost effective Critical Links Education Appliance, the world’s first purpose-built education server, comprising three main components: a learning management system, a student information system and an IT management system for administration.
The Education Appliance places all resources on a central system with schools, enabling teachers to create lesson plans and structures with built-in wizards and other tools. Together with core curriculum materials developed by Critical Links’ partner LearnThings, teachers have access to a powerful bank of materials available for use or it can be customised to meet specific needs, empowering both teachers and learners through interactive, engaging educational content.
The learning management system is linked into Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment), a global open source e-learning community designed to help educators create online courses with a focus on interaction and collaborative construction of content. Teachers can use this to learn from the experience of educators from around the world. The Moodle community also allows teachers to download lesson plans and access huge volumes of learning and study materials created by the on-line community.
Regarding presentations, lessons can be saved on the Education Appliance as video files or a written lesson outlines. Children who have missed classes for whatever reason, also get an opportunity to catch up without placing extra workload on the teacher. Hence, dynamic distance learning becomes possible, with a centrally based teacher helping students from multiple classrooms in multiple locations to learn simultaneously over the internet. Additionally, it gives teachers resources and flexibility to create and post student records, assignments and grades for real-time performance monitoring through an intuitive, easy to use application.
For school administrators, the Education Appliance provides all of the tools and solutions required in a single box, from administration and networking to security and management. This helps simplify the admin process, allowing attendance to be easily recorded and reports to be generated quickly.
Students can interact with their teachers and classmates, access lessons and study guides at school and at home. This stimulates learners to think for themselves instead of simply absorbing information, encouraging interaction and involvement.
Technology such as the Education Appliance represents the learning of the future now, embracing the 2.0 culture of today’s world to give learners an edge on their education. The blackboard has its limitations, and the curriculum for teacher training needs to be updated with advancing technology in mind. Teachers need to be trained and given the skills to not only use technology but interact with teachers from other schools around the world in an increasingly social media driven world, helping to build up their knowledge base and exchange ideas.
Paul Fick, Jasco Enterprise Divisional Managing Director