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TMCNet:  SA e-learning under the spotlight [ITWeb]

[June 17, 2014]

SA e-learning under the spotlight [ITWeb]

(ITWeb Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Five provinces have begun using tablets in teaching and learning, according to Via Afrika's report.

South African schools have started adopting ICT in classrooms, although barriers still exist as some provinces have struggled to adopt recommendations from decade-old local research.

This is according to a report by Via Afrika publishers, which collates information from across the country to "track challenges and progress in SA's e-learning landscape".

The report, titled "Snapshot of e-Learning in South African Schools", highlights factors that contribute towards integrating technology in classrooms across all provinces. Although it does not specify the number of schools across SA, the report points to evidence of technology adopted in classrooms across the provinces.


According to Via Afrika, ICT officials across all provincial education departments were consulted in order to establish the following findings: 1. Provincial attitude to ICT in classrooms Although the report does not specify the provinces, it notes eight are positive towards ICT and promote them actively. Six provinces "agree" with ICT use, although they say schools are not ready for its implementation. One province notes ICT does not have the same priority as printed textbooks.  2. Adopting research recommendations According to the report, all provinces attempt to use technology adoption frameworks listed in a number of published research papers. These include "Managing ICTs (http://www.education.gov.za/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=4rn8m810sXw=&tabid=452&mid=1036) in South African Schools, a guide for school principals", government's "White paper (http://www.education.gov.za/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=Keu0/Bkee+M=&tabid=191&mid=484) on e-education" from 2004 and "Guidelines (http://www.schoolnet.org.za/sharing/guidelines_teacher_training.pdf) for teacher training and development in ICT".

3. Skills shortage Out of SA's 413 067 teachers, only 132 884 had been trained in basic computer skills and ICT equipment by 2011, according to the report. It cites the Department of Basic Education's findings, announced to Parliament in August last year. Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Basic Education noted (http://www.parliament.gov.za/live/content-mobi.php?C_Item_ID=3908&Item_ID=3536) that implementation of e-learning plans listed in the white paper was "too slow".

4. Internet coverage in SA All provinces, except the Northern Cape, have high EDGE, GPRS, 2G and 3G coverage, while long-term evolution coverage is still limited to certain parts of major cities in each province. Government's broadband policy aims to connect half of SA's schools to the Internet by 2016, and the Department of Communications has connected more than 680 schools since the policy was published in December.

5. Use of digital devices for teaching and learning Desktop computers are being used in many schools across all provinces, with eight having adopted laptops as well. Schools in seven provinces use interactive whiteboards, while tablets are used in five provinces. Some rural schools run programmes (../index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=71338) using tablets in teaching and learning – an initiative driven by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Meanwhile, organisations are increasingly using mobile technology (../index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=135156) to meet some of SA's education challenges.

6. Use of digital content DVDs are the most common form of digital content, as they are found to be used in all provinces. Closely following are CDs, interactive textbooks and TV lessons, which the report says are used in seven provinces. Apps are used in classrooms across four provinces, while webinars are listed as the least common form of content, found in just one province.

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