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.
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.