The Digital Classroom Resource

I recently published a new technology resource book for South African schools, with award-winning ICT teacher Matt Hains. The Digital Classroom Resource is a print and digital reference tool to support learners in their understanding of the theoretical concepts presented in Computer Applications Technology. This book covers terminology for the FET Phase of the South African Computer Applications Technology curriculum, as prescribed by the CAPS (Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement), and is written in clear, easy-to-understand language with diagrams and images to illustrate concepts. One of the key assessment standards is being able to “describe the terminology of relevant computer hardware and software” and this title responds directly to this curriculum requirement.

Videos

We created a number of short video clips on topics in the book. These could be used by a teacher to introduce a lesson or material to engage learners in new ways, perhaps in a Level 2 activity structured according to the Digital Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Operating System
Big Data

Ten Trends

One of the features of the book was a series of technology trends that provided background to the trend and its impact as well as a discussion topic the teacher could use in the classroom or to set homework assignments.

Trends included

  • 3D printing
  • AI and the workplace
  • Commercial space travel
  • Digital education and online learning
  • Driverless cars
  • Implantable technologies
  • Augmented reality
  • Teenagers and innovation in the 21st century
  • The classrooms of the future
  • The connected home and IoT

Discussion topics for implantable technology: What are your thoughts on implanting technological devices into the human body? If having a microchip under your skin meant you might be able to live longer, why would you do it or not do it? What enhancements would you think about if you could ‘hack’ your body?

Discussion topics for IoT: If you could completely automate your house, what things would you want it to be able to do? What are the security risks of having your house and home devices connected to the Internet? What happens if the network is down? Will we have inter-connected communities in society when our houses become connected? What happens if your house doesn’t recognise you anymore?

Discussion topics for commercial space travel: What would change about the way people take vacations if space travel was affordable to everyone? What sort of technology would you take with you if you were to live on the moon? How would we get Internet access in space? How do you think space travel would affect the way that countries trade goods? What effect, if any, would space travel have on our immediate and external environment? Can space be colonised and how would this impact on the power relations between countries?

ICT Education in African Countries

At the recent Innovation Africa conference, it was noticed that many African countries represented have nascent digital education plans, with a focus on embedding 21st Century Skills in the curriculum and creating a ‘knowledge economy’-ready workforce. The aim behind these policies is to develop ICT skills and a type of digital literacy in their citizens, for jobs in the knowledge economy. 

The Digital Classroom Resource could be a useful introductory text for teachers and learners unfamiliar with technology. While South Africa has a robust and growing drive to incorporate ICT in the classroom, to enhance teaching and learning, other African countries also have initiatives underway. In Zambia, a project called Smart Zambia exists whereby the education ministry is creating digital resources to support teaching as well as distributing 75,000 tablets to learners. ICT studies has been made a compulsory subject for grade 8 and 9 in Zambia. Looking further afield, Kenya has set up an e-learning cloud with freely available digital resources for teachers and learners. They have distributed over a million devices to learners, assembled in Kenya via a public-private partnership with Brazilian Positive BGH (who have a similar project running in Rwanda). Content and training is still needed to support the adoption of these projects.

In August 2015, UNESCO published a research report Information and Communication Technology (ICT) In Education In Sub-Saharan Africa – A Comparative Analysis of Basic E-Readiness in Schools which outlines what is generally happening across the African continent in regard to ICT education, with the following countries have a national plan on ICT in education:

  • Botswana, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia

Countries with a course in basic computer skills or computing:

Country Primary
Lower Secondary
Upper Secondary
South Africa

X
Ethiopia
X X
Lesotho
X X
Nigeria X X X
Botswana X X X
Cameroon X X X
Mauritius X X X
Uganda X X X
Zambia X X X

These countries could all be potential markets for the Digital Classroom Resource

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