E-learning and technology in the classroom in focus at African Education Week in June

“It is very difficult to think of any learning that is not E-enabled.”

Are mobile devices revolutionary or disruptive in a classroom setting?  Should IT and social media be used to develop professional learning networks?  And can twitter, Facebook and MixIT enhance teaching and learning in the classroom?  These are some of the compelling questions that will be discussed during the Education Technology Indaba at the annual African Education Week from 19-22 June at the Sandton Convention Centre.

The African Education Week Convention and Learning Expo is the meeting and trading platform for everyone who is passionate about improving the standard of education in Africa.  Now in its 7th year, it remains the continent’s leading educational resources and training event, attracting more education professionals than any other event.

“E” will be big!
“’E’ will be big this year in South African education!” says well-known educational technology expert and head of e-Learning at Mustek, Kobus van Wyk.  “Although e-Learning is already happening in isolated schools, it still has to get going at a much broader level.  e-Learning can make a huge contribution towards alleviating the bad state of education in South Africa.”

He continues:  “the National Department of Basic Education (DBE) is putting large emphasis on the use of technology in education, or e-education as they call it. In its document, “Action Plan to 2014”, chapter 7 is entitled “The importance of e-education,” with some ambitious goals set for 2013 and 2014. This adds impetus to the implementation of e-learning initiatives in the different provinces.”

From tablets to phablets
According to Kobus van Wyk, who is a regular speaker at African Education Week, it became very apparent during 2012 “that the use of tablets and mobile devices will play an increasingly important role in education in the future.”  He encourages teachers to embrace technology:  “Educators, get your hands on a device – today!  Experience it first hand, familiarise yourself with it, and when you get stuck, ask a learner to help you!”

“It’s not just tablets that are the way forward, it is the concept of ‘bring your own device (BYOD)’ says one of this year’s keynote speakers at African Education Week, Prof Johannes Cronje, Dean Informatics and Design at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

He explains:  “tablets are getting cheaper and cheaper, and more and more versatile.  Of course it’s not just tablets but the combination of tablets and phones, “Phablets”, that are set to revolutionise things.  We are progressively finding that our technology has to be portable.  We are moving to a multi-screen universe, with the screens being very intelligent, and even knowing where they are and who is using them.  This ability of machines to learn our behaviour and our needs will mean that we have to explore new ways of learning and thinking about technology.”

Prof Cronje believes the term E-learning will disappear in favour of an older term, “learning”.  He says:  “since electronic books have started outselling printed books, and since Facebook exchanges are outperforming email, it is very difficult to think of any learning that is not E-enabled.”

Today’s learners tech-savvy
“Today learners are becoming very tech-savvy and engage with one another through technology as a primary means of communication” says Paulo Ferreira, Head of Enterprise Mobility at Samsung South Africa.  “As such”, he continues, “ensuring education takes place within this environment means that learners will naturally engage more actively within the education space – learning more and increasing their knowledge around technology at the same time.”

Samsung started off by offering the African continent our Solar Powered Internet Schools (SPIS),” says Paulo, “a world-first; the exclusively solar-powered, mobile and completely independent classroom is geared at increasing accessibility to education and connectivity across Africa.  It is designed particularly for use in remote rural areas with limited or no access to electricity.  Each Solar Powered Internet School is built in a 12 metre long shipping container, making them easily transportable via truck to remote areas.”

Paulo Ferreira says “the success of this Samsung solution is evident through the one that has been stationed at Phomolong Secondary School in Tembisa for approximately 9 months.  Over this time, the matric pass rate increased from 89% the previous year to 97% at the end of 2012 – an increase of 8%.”  Samsung is a gold sponsor at this year’s African Education Week.

More programme highlights in the Education Technology Indaba at African Education Week will include:

· Panel discussion:  A futuristic view of education

Kobus van Wyk, Head of e-Learning, Mustek

Phil Minisi, Director for Curriculum Innovation, Department of Basic Education, South Africa

· Panel discussion: The challenge of change: Is social media disruptive in education?

Adele Botha, Senior Research Scientist, CSIR Meraka Institute, South Africa

Maggie Verster, Senior Consultant, ICT4Champions, South Africa

Jaye Richards Hills, Digital Evangelist, Educator and Innovator, ICT in Education Excellence Group Member at The Scottish Government, United Kingdom

Paul Colditz, CEO, Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools (Fedsas)

· Panel discussion:  E-learning in action

Dr Johan Jacobs, Deputy Director: Facility of Learning & ICT Support, UNISA Campus Cape Town, South Africa

Brett Simpson, Managing Director, Breadbin, South Africa

Overcoming the barriers to e-learning and distance education: An African perspective Kobus van Wyk, Head of e-Learning, Mustek

Prof Johannes Cronjé, Dean, Informatics and Design, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa

Elizabeth Thobejane, CEO, Gauteng City Region Academy,Gauteng Education, South Africa

Event dates:
Wednesday, 19 June 2013: Preconference workshops
Thursday, 20 June 2013:  Opening keynote session, Learning Expo opens
Friday, 21 June 2013: Conference sessions, Learning Expo open
Saturday, 22 June 2013: Learning Expo open, Post conference workshops

Location: Sandton Convention Centre, South Africa
Websites: www.educationweek.co.za ; www.careerindaba.co.za

Communications manager:  Annemarie Roodbol
Telephone:  +27 21 700 3558
mobile:  +27 82 562 7844
Email:  annemarie.roodbol@clarionevents.com

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