Technology talk

| November 17, 2017 | 0 Comments

BY JUSTIN HARPER

Technology is a way of life almost  everywhere you look – and the classroom is no exception.

Schools are increasingly integrating technology into all aspects of teaching to provide quality education. Some, like SAHETI School in Bedfordview, in Johannesburg, Gauteng, have carefully mapped out programmes to
ensure learners and educators have ongoing access to and a good grasp of the most effective technology available to enrich learning, both at school and home. SAHETI was recently acknowledged as a forerunner in digital education, when it became the fifth South African school to be selected as a Microsoft Showcase School.1

SAHETI joins prestigious global community
The Microsoft Showcase Schools programme is a global community of schools that recognise and amplify the use of
technology to drive education efficiencies schoolwide. The announcement in September 2017 that SAHETI had been
admitted to the programme followed news that the information and communication technology (ICT) manager at the school, Justin Harper, had been selected as one of five “innovative educator experts” who represented South Africa at the Microsoft Education Exchange (E2) Global Forum in Toronto, Canada, in March 2017.2
The E2 event brings together approximately 300 educators from around the world every year. Recognising their efforts and achievements to combine content, pedagogy and technology to enhance education, the forum provides delegates with opportunities to collaborate, create and share their experiences over three days. Inspired to try new applications, full of fresh ideas from his peers and having participated in challenges to brainstorm ideas for
future Microsoft products, Harper says he returned from Canada keener than ever to continue to drive SAHETI’s technology programme – which was already well established due (in part, at least) to the school’s bring your own device (BYOD) and training initiatives.

BYOD and training part and parcel of the SAHETI plan
“The BYOD plan was introduced because SAHETI believes technology introduced to learners should not only be device agnostic, but also browser agnostic. Learners are encouraged to bring devices that they are familiar and comfortable with. All the products we’ve introduced work on any platform at any time. We then link the educational material to learners’ devices, so that they can access the content both at school and home,” says Harper.
Training is central to the roll-out of SAHETI’s technology programme. According to the head of department of ICT at
the school, Rhoda van Niekerk (who is also responsible for staff development), staff have embraced Microsoft Office 365 – including applications such as OneNote and Microsoft Teams – thanks largely to a comprehensive, ongoing training programme. Van Niekerk and Harper attended the Education Exchange E2 Africa Forum held in Bryanston, Johannesburg, earlier this year,3 where Van Niekerk’s team emerged winner of the Minecraft video game group project, which involved coming up with a South African problem and then modelling a solution in a “Small South Africa Minecraft” world. Most recently, Microsoft Office 365 was successfully used for interaction between students and teachers during SAHETI’s third-term subject assessment module (SAM) project, which is a project-based assessment introduced by the school for Grade 10s as a replacement of mid-year examinations. Applications used by the school also enable teachers to capture their ideas and to-do lists in one place, wherever they are. Microsoft
Team keeps students up to date with assignments, announcements and gradespecific information. Technology also makes it possible for discussions to take place outside of class, and gives teachers a one-stop shop to create and grade assignments.

Cutting-edge equipment and collaborations
SAHETI is equipped with more than 75 SMART interactive whiteboards, 50 Aruba Wi-Fi access points, HP 3PAR and SAN data storage technology, and fibre breakout.4 The school’s approach is firmly based on the premise that the correct use of technology in classrooms has the potential to enhance teaching and the student’s ability to learn.
“Creating a space for collaboration that takes learning far beyond the reach of the classroom is one of the reasons we use technology in the classroom. Students can now easily participate in group projects, even when they’re at home,” says Harper, adding that ensuring technology is in good working order and that the physical design of classrooms supports the best possible use of technology are also crucial to SAHETI’s ongoing technology-driven success.

 

 

 

 

 

Category: e-Education

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