Mediatech Trade show visit – July 2013

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Have you ever wondered what techy nerd’s dream of, well wonder no longer for Mediatech is the physical embodyment of that dream. From green screens to lighting rigs to mixing boards to 19 million rand OB vans to flying cameras (yes you heard me right) you can find them all at Mediatech. The moment we walked into the Coco Cola dome we knew that the next few days would be intellectually exhausting. We immediately dove in and started chatting to everyone. By the second day me and my esteemed colleague, Edward Musgrave, decided to split up in attempt to cover all of the exhibitions.20130718_154013 I don’t know about Edward but I definitely had a few “what the flip” moments where the techy jargon got the better of me and I had to pretend to be fully aware what a Q-matrix 88 switcher was and exactly what it did. Nonetheless after all was said and done we both agreed that attending Mediatech 2013 was well worthwhile and  we are looking forward to upgrading our studio with a few of those toys. So watch out world ICTISE is moving on up!

UNESCO visit to Slovakia – April 2012

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The UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE) situated in Moscow is conducting a 3 year study on how ICT is reshaping the teaching and learning processes of children in primary education. With respect to the expectations, requirements and challenges of the 21st century, Sarietjie Musgrave from ICTISE, UFS was invited to be part of a team of nine experts from around the world to analyze different approaches, priorities, obstacles and strategies for integrating ICT into the everyday work and play of primary children and their teachers.

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On 28 – 30 April a meeting of the project was held in Bratislave, Slovakia.  The meeting started with a visit to a Kindergarden that showcase exemplary use of ICT for teaching and learning.  Examples of 3 year olds using Skype to share activities with learners from other schools or with their parents, the use of digital cameras, microscopes, digital scales, metal detectors, interactive white boards as well as computers, tablets and laptops.

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This was followed by a visit to edulab.sk – a centre responsible for the training od teachers and learners in the use of ICT.  The group of experts continued their work that started in April 2011 in France, by completing th first volume of their book and planning the section volume for publication in 2013.  The focus of the second volume will be on sharing examples of best practises from around the world.

Internet Broadcast Project

The mission of ICTISE is to advance education through the innovative use of ICT in teaching, learning and leadership in schools and to support this through capacity building to ensure long term sustainable change.
With the launch of the Internet Broadcast Project, ICTISE in partnership with the Free State Department of Education more than 60 schools across the province is given the opportunity to participate in real-time interactive lessons which are broadcast daily to both teachers and learners in core subjects – Maths, Physical Science, Accounting, Life Science, Geography and Economics.
Each of the participating schools have been equipped with the necessary technology: VSAT with uncapped internet access (for the next three years), an iBox (all inclusive portable computer, data projector and sound system) as well as software, domain registration and e-mail accounts for each teacher/learner at all centres. During the past 4 months all of the centres across the Free State have been visited, while all headmasters, 6 teachers and 2 learners from each of the centres received face-to-face training at the South Campus of UFS.
Although the broadcasting of lessons is not a new concept, this project is unique in that it will allow users to engage and interact with each other through IM and videoconferencing while having access to some of the best subject teachers the Free State has to offer. Because all broadcasts are recorded, both learner and teacher can reuse lessons freely. These lessons are available through a cataloging system. Next phase development will see the broadcasts being supported by a call centre available to teachers daily from 14:00 till 19:00. Teachers will then be able to anonymously receive support in the development of knowledge and content within their subject area. These calls will be recorded and analysed to influence the development of subject focused workshops across the Free State.
Wide spread interest in the Internet Broadcast Project exists.

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Free State Detectives (SAPS) receive Basic Computer Training at UFS

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The ICTISE (ICT Innovation in School Education) section of the School of Open Learning was commissioned by the South African Police Service to train 20 Free State Police Detectives during March 2012.  Upon arrival none of these detectives have ever used a computer before – they were relying on mainly administrative staff to handle e-mail, digital media and all other electronic documents.

During the training the ICTISE mobile laptop trollies (3 x 10 laptops housed in aluminum crates) made it possible for training to happen in venues where computer training is normally not possible, creating the opportunity to mimic how a detective could be using mobile computer devices to be more productive when visiting crime scenes.

What a great privilege to see this group grow in one week to being confident computer users who not only now access and manage e-mail on their cell phones, but are also capable of drawing up budgets and analyse crime statistics in Excel, do a presentation to the community using PowerPoint, write their next report using Word and they can now make “wanted suspect” posters in Publisher using digital images they capture themselves.  The week ended with a UFS student show casing how the youth access social media, like facebook and twitter.

ICT Innovation Teachers Workshops across Free State

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Following the Innovation in Education Workshops held at the University of the Free State (attended by more than 600 teachers), follow-up workshops in each of the 5 Free State Districts were conducted during the past month. The ICTISE (ICT Innovation in School Education) section of the School of Open Learning teamed up with the e-learning division of the Free State Department of Education to make these workshops possible.

The focus of each of the workshops was to bring together a community of teachers to learn and exchange expertise, while fostering dialogue on best practices, innovation and pedagogy. Teachers were engage intellectually when exceptional innovative practices of technology integration in the educational process were shared. Teachers’ confidence in integrating technology throughout the learning process increased while teachers became active stakeholders in their profession.

The aims of the workshops were:

  • Reflect on own teaching practice and level of innovation
  • Reflect on the nature of 21st Century education and how it can be incorporated into learning experiences
  • Learn about the importance of knowledge building and critical thinking in innovation
  • Explore ways of extending learning experiences beyond the classroom
  • Explore ways of including collaboration in learning experiences
  • Recognise opportunities to use ICT in innovative ways to achieve each of the above
  • Join an online community of Free State teachers that uses ICT in innovative ways

These workshops, held in Bloemfontein, Welkom, Sasolburg and Bethlehem were attended by more than 160 teachers from both primary and high schools. Teachers will spend the rest of 2012 implementing their new skills, while preparing to participate in an Expo were best practices from across the Free State will be shared.

Digital Doorway for Bloemfontein Community

The combined effort of ICTISE (ICT Innovation in School Education), Reach and the Heidedal community saw a four-station Digital Doorway (computer system) were placed on the premises of Reach. ICTISE is a programme of the University of the Free State (UFS) and operates from the university’s South Campus. This computer system will allow all Heidedal schools and community members to have free access to computers.

Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, opened the Digital Doorway by cutting a ceremonial ribbon with the assistance of one of the community’s learners.

The Digital Doorway concept originates from a joint initiative between the Department of Science and Technology and the Meraka Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The Digital Doorway consists of four screens and allows access to select content, including open-source application software. This includes audio books, subject textbooks, encyclopaedia, educational games such as “touch maths” and quizzes as well as useful information for school subjects and a newspaper especially for children.

The Heidedal Digital Doorway is the first of its kind in the Motheo District. Typically, one or two kids will be working on each of the computers, while up to five other learners will be giving instructions, allowing the whole group to learn. The Digital Doorway is a smart way of bridging the digital divide, bringing science and technology to our community and opening the doors of learning. ICTISE will support the Heidedal schools to make full use of this new facility by training teachers and community members.

“The UFS hopes that this project will change the lives of the Heidedal community by providing the youth with an opportunity to be in line with the changing world of technology,” said Ms Sarietjie Musgrave, Head: ICTISE.

32 Teachers receive Computer Based Mathematics training

Dedicated Free State teachers participated in the “Master in My Subject (MIMS)” training sessions at the School of Open Learning at the South Campus arranged by ICTISE.

At the beginning of 2012, 32 mathematics teachers from 20 schools in and around Bloemfontein sacrificed the last week of their holiday to attend the first of the “Master in My Subject (MIMS)” training sessions at our School of Open Learning at the South Campus.

This is part of the Rector’s Schools Change Project. The ICTISE (ICT Innovation in School Education) section of the School of Open Learning has teamed up with MasterMaths to make this event possible. During the training sessions, each teacher assessed on their work during the first school term to teach. Using a computer-based teaching system, voice and animated images are used to illustrate mathematical principles to individual teachers. Through out the process they master key concepts and are encouraged to test they comprehension.

At the end of the week, each participating school received a laptop computer with software, sponsored by MasterMaths. The rest of 2012 will see this group of teachers returinging to the university every holiday for a week to continue the program.