The fourth annual E-Learning Summit in East London explored how technology can assists teachers and learners compete in the fourth industrial revolution.

Delegates also debated the challenges that we need to overcome, and plotted directions for taking the country forward.

Kathy Gibson reports

 

Technology at the core of Eastern Cape education vision

The Eastern Cape has a clear vision to use IT and e-learning to help it meet its education goals.

Mfanawethu Cele, CES: e-learning at the Eastern Cape Department of Education, stresses that the EC DoE aims to ensure every child has access to quality electronic content, taught by dynamic and ICT skilled teachers. This will be enabled through appropriate ICT infrastructure and connectivity.

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Digital framework key to enable e-learning

Job losses are inevitable if learners are not equipped with the skills they need to compete in the digital world.

“Technology is key to empowering learners to live with the fourth industrial revolution,” says Abdul Moosa, chief technology officer of Fujitsu.

The new multi-billion dollar companies emerging in the world today are based on technology, often relatively simple apps, he points out, and learners who are not able to compete in this world will be disenfranchised

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Fujitsu closes the e-learning loop for real rural benefit

When Fujitsu set out to solve one specific problem – that of bringing e-learning to mud schools in the Eastern Cape – it had little idea that just two years later it would have built a self-sustaining ecosystem that closes the loop of education, maintenance, technical skills transfer and tertiary learning.

Marketing manager Steven Kramer describes how an idea that surfaced at the May 2017 E-Learning Summit in East London sparked the initial idea for building a solar-powered classroom in a container.

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We need to put the digital revolution in an SA context

When we talk about the digital revolution, it needs to be linked to the context of South Africa where rural schools, rural colleges and poor communities are the reality.

Khaya Matiso, principal and HRD Council at Port Elizabeth TVET Colleges, says that the digital revolution should make a contribution to narrowing the gap between rich and poor.

This will require massive investments in the schooling system, he says. “Let’s be serious about education, about e-learning and investment.”

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Getting past the e-learning stumbling blocks

E-learning is a very important subject, whose time is now – but it won’t happen if we don’t overcome some very real challenges

Professor Sakhela Buhlungu, vice-chancellor of University of Fort Hare, points out that the need for e-learning is not debated any more.

“It reduces costs and, with limited infrastructure, gives people the ability to teach and learn. Importantly, it can also expand coverage.”

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E-learning can’t happen without connectivity

South Africa is still lagging behind as far as connectivity is concerned – but the challenges can be viewed as an opportunity.

This is the word from Tebogo Leshope, chief operations officer at Sentech, who says government and private sector need to partner to solve the problem.

“We have to invest in digital skilling. If we skill properly we can realise our e-learning goals.”

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How technology changes our brains

There’s a belief that the fourth industrial revolution is coming – but we should acknowledge that it is here already.

“There is an idea that we are preparing for it, but this implies we can put it off,” says Micheal Goodman, group knowledge manager at Via Afrika.

Studies show that subjects with little Internet experience have different brain activities compared to those with experience. “Technology does change the brain,” says Goodman.

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Eastern Cape commits to e-learning

The Eastern Cape province is embracing e-learning as one of its strategic pillars of education.

Fundile Gade, MEC: education and training for the Eastern Cape, stresses that ICT cannot be allowed to fail in the province.

“It is one of the strategic key developmental aspects that any nation that aspires to grow the economy and human capital has to take education seriously,” he says.

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