Unlimited FREE access to educational resources

| March 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

Imagine being able to walk up to a touchscreen computer in your school to search, preview and download core curricula, examination papers, study guides, lesson plans and other key educational resources at no cost.

Breadbin Interactive, a Cape Town-based company, is committed to providing unlimited access to educational resources without charge to schools. Its creator, Brett Simpson, supports both teachers and learners by providing National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS)1-aligned educational resources including lesson plans, examination papers, video lessons, freeware, workbooks, core curriculum activities and much more at the touch of a finger.

Touchscreen delivery of curriculum content

One of the reasons why this technology is proving so successful is because it’s so easy to use, needing only the touch of a finger on a screen to navigate and find specific material/content. Using a touchscreen interface, teachers and learners can choose, preview and copy selected content onto CDs, DVDs, USB flash drives or via Wi- Fi to cellphones, tablets and laptops.

Material can also simply be printed as hard copy. In 2006, Breadbin was a project called The Freedom Toaster, successfully incubated and launched under the auspices of The Shuttleworth Foundation.2 Today, Breadbin Interactive is a specialist independent company. Says Simpson: “After surviving cancer, I decided to pursue two dreams – to build a business and to make a difference to the state of education in South Africa.”

WCED home base for now for teachers, officials and students
The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has placed e-learning Breadbin ‘kiosks’ into each of its district offices across the entire province. The Breadbin machines store a comprehensive repository of educational resources that curriculum advisors, principals and teachers can access when visiting these offices.

The usage of this content and the kiosks has been abundant, and a large network of contributors constantly finds new resources to add to the already substantial digital library. Simpson says he’s thrilled that students are also accessing the kiosks for extra academic support. “I have heard stories of, for example, school learners sitting outside the George district education office on a Sunday, and connecting to the machine locked inside via Wi-Fi to download material they needed for school the following week.

Its stories such as these which make me realise Breadbin is on the right path and can make a valuable contribution to education.” Breadbin is working with the National Department of Basic Education as well as provincial departments and schools across South Africa to improve the content and technology, so that all teachers and learners can access the growing treasure trove of educational resources.

Open Educational Resources (OERs)
OERs are freely accessible, openly formatted and openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, education, assessment and research purposes. They are a cost-effective alternative to traditional materials usually produced in hard-copy book format and sold to the end user through publishing channels.

Recently, substantial support has been generated both locally and globally for the creation of OER material for free distribution to support both teachers and learners, through a growing, comprehensive number of content developers.3 Breadbin consolidates quality OERs into one place within an interface that is easy to navigate and find what you are looking for, using the touchscreen.

This saves time for busy teachers and learners, who would otherwise have to search the internet to find suitable material and then incur the costs of downloading it onto their computing device, tablet or phone. We strive to take the guesswork, time wastage and cost out of the equation so that educators can focus on teaching and learners on learning.

Suitable solutions for all schools
Breadbin has developed new solutions based on schools’ existing information technology (IT) infrastructures and budgets, realising that not every school has the same needs or resources. The Breadbin Wi-Fi computer is a virtual solution that plugs into the schools’ existing infrastructure, allowing staff and students to use any device connected to this network to browse and download content.

“There’s also an added Wi-Fi feature for learners and educators who have a smartphone or tablet to access information wirelessly,” adds Simpson. For those who still can’t imagine that delivering curriculum content could be so simple and innovative, Simpson provides the following scenarios, based on his work with the (WCED): “Lucky Chabalala is head of science at a public school. He visits his local district education department office to get some lesson plans on the periodic table.

The curriculum advisor official gives Chabalala a brief demonstration of the Breadbin kiosk. He then navigates and previews some documents, adding items to his virtual shopping basket as he finds the material he is seeking. He inserts a flash drive and copies all his material from the device onto his memory stick, then leaves the district office with videos lectures, simulations and the latest textbooks.

“Wesley Brand is a senior curriculum advisor for the WCED in Mitchell’s Plain and is due to see two schools today. He knows there are new videos available for teaching science on the Breadbin kiosk as well as new WCED telematics4 content, which he thinks will be needed and appreciated by the two schools.

“He has a low-cost tablet which he uses to show schools the new digital educational resources and to deliver this material to them. He navigates the Wi-Fi content hotspot from his desk in the district office, finds the correct material and downloads it wirelessly to his tablet before leaving to support and deliver this material to the school teachers.

“Lindiwe Bongeka is a teacher from a rural school and has come to the district office to get textbook chapters for her students, because there has been a delay in the delivery of hardcopy textbooks to her school. Lindiwe has used the Breadbin kiosk before, so she easily navigates to the four chapters of science for Grade 11 she will need for the term. She selects to print the documents and returns to her school with the material needed to teach her students.”

For further information or to order your own solution for your school, please contact Breadbin via website www.breadbin.co.za, e-mail: info@breadbin.co.za or telephone: +27 (0)21 910 4343.

References:

1. See, for example, http://www.education.gov.za/Curriculum/. CurriculumAssessmentPolicyStatements/tabid/419/Default.aspx.

2. See http://www.shuttleworthfoundation.org/.

3. See, for example, http://creativecommons.org/education.

4. Telematics typically is any integrated use of telecommunications and informatics, also known as information and communications technology. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telematics.)

Category: Autumn 2013, e-Education

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