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Jun 04
A New Dawn for Education in Post-Apartheid South Africa
Jun 04
LAST-MINUTE STUDY TIPS TO TAKE YOUR GRADES FROM GOOD TO GREAT

​As thousands of South African learners enter their June exams, an expert says that there are a few ways to optimise limited study time without resorting to cramming.

"Revision time is over, and learners must ensure they use the time they have between exams in the most effective way. While cramming may seem the most natural thing to do at this stage, it is actually counter-productive and likely to increase anxiety and fatigue," says Nola Payne, Head of Faculty: Information and Communications Technology at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education institution.

She says there are creative – and entertaining - ways in which learners can utilise their time between papers, which will also ensure they maintain a good work-life balance during this taxing time.

"The most important thing to do at this stage, is to take stock of where you are at, and then draw up a detailed roster for the next few weeks, which clearly shows how much time you have available between subjects. Then you need to decide how you are best going to use that time to ensure your preparation goes beyond reading textbooks over and over again."

Payne says there are 3 great ways to study while exams are in full swing, which go beyond repetitive and rote learning.

  1. GET SOCIAL

    "By getting social, we don't mean diving into facebook or Instagram," she says.
     
    Instead, learners should form study groups for individual subjects, which will allow them to take their understanding beyond the books.
     
    "Set up a WhatsApp challenge with your friends, where you can send each other questions about a subject. This facilitates valuable discussions, deepening insight and highlighting areas you may have missed. Keep it fun but focused, and see if you can 'trip up' your friends with your questions. While it might not be so much fun finding out that there is something your friends know that you don't, this method helps you identify areas need work before it is too late."
  2. GET ACTIVE

    It is very important to exercise during exams, to give your body and mind a break. If you share a study timetable with your friends, you can optimise your time by, for instance, going for a run together during which time you can talk over upcoming papers, points you don't understand, and questions you believe are likely to arise.

    "It is important that you and your friends synchronise your timetables, so that your breaks coincide for the most part. By ensuring your downtime is scheduled at the same time as theirs, you avoid a situation where you want to have a chat when they are focused on their work and vice versa," says Payne.

    She adds that, by having the same breaks, learners can also act as a conscience for each other to check that everyone is working when they should be, as having to account to them may give one that extra bit of motivation to keep going.

    "Then, when taking breaks together, you can talk over issues in a low-pressure environment such as while exercising. Your friends may have valuable insights and support to provide, just as you may be able to help them with your own unique insights. 
    "Getting active together while not losing focus of the task at hand means you benefit from the feel-good chemicals released in your brain as a result of exercising and socialising, while at the same time increasing your depth of understanding of a subject," says Payne.
  3. GET WRITING

    One of the best ways to cement your preparation with limited time on hand, is to write past exam papers, Payne says.

    "Get your friends together and hold a mock exam, imitating the exam conditions with set times and no peeking in textbooks. Afterwards, switch papers with each person marking another's paper. This approach has the dual benefit of making you more comfortable with exam conditions, while also solidifying your knowledge in a low-pressure environment."
    "It is very important to spread your time between all your subjects, and to not go down the rabbit hole of getting lost in only one subject, for instance Mathematics," says Payne. 

    "At this stage of the game, balance is key, and goes a long way towards countering the negative impact of stress and anxiety.
    "If you are serious about achieving the best marks to enable you access to the post-school opportunities you desire, introducing creative study methods such as the above will go a long way toward not only improving your performance, but also to cultivate a love of learning for its own sake, which is vitally important in a rapidly changing world of work," says Payne.

 

May 16
GRADUATES: HOW TO SLAY IMPOSTOR SYNDROME & UNLEASH YOUR FULL POTENTIAL

​Recent studies have highlighted the negative impact of Impostor Syndrome on young graduates transitioning to the workplace. An expert says it is important to identify and understand the signs of impostor syndrome early in one's career, to avoid losing confidence and to become an empowered, valued and productive team member.

"According to a study conducted by UK career development agency Amazing If last year, as much as a third of millennials – young people between the ages of 18 and 34 - suffer from Imposter Syndrome at work," says Dr Gillian Mooney, Dean: Academic Development and Support at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education institution.

She says locally the situation is likely to be much the same, with a large number of young graduates who will be able to identify with a persistent fear of being "found out" or exposed as a "fraud" in the workplace.

"Imposter syndrome is commonly reported by recent graduates who are starting to formally work for the first time," she says.

"While Impostor Syndrome is not a formal psychological diagnosis, the concept has been used since 1978 to describe people who have an ongoing fear of being uncovered as being a fraud, or persistently feeling that they are 'phony'. So there is good news for those who have been experiencing these confidence-sapping feelings in the workplace: firstly, there are many millions of people around the world who feel the same way, so you are not alone; and secondly, there are some solid ways in which you can rectify the situation."

Dr Mooney says that a further characteristic of those 'suffering' from Impostor Syndrome is that they tend to struggle with internalising their achievements.

"Many high achievers make external attributions about their success, for instance that they have been 'lucky' and that their success has little to do with who they are and what they know, or hard work and intelligence. This means that these people believe that they are not intelligent or capable enough, in spite of the objective evidence to the contrary."

Dr Mooney adds that there is no clear pattern or type of person who may suffer from imposter syndrome.

"People from diverse backgrounds, with different levels of intelligence and personality types can experience the feeling that they are not capable or qualified enough for their position. But it is important that these feelings are addressed, because it is clear that they can detract from your performance and can keep you from reaching your full potential."

So how does one tackle Impostor Syndrome? By taking the following action:

RECOGNISE AND ACKNOWLEDGE WHAT YOU ARE DEALING WITH

When these destructive thoughts and feelings emerge, recognise them as such. It will be easier to manage these feelings and thoughts once you know what they are. Note negative self-talk, such as 'I can't do this work' or 'I don't know how to do this presentation', and determine whether your insights are based on fact, or fear.

CHANGE YOUR MENTAL PROGRAMMING

Think about whether or not there is any real evidence for your feelings of inadequacy. Are all these feelings and thoughts just in your head? Actively rephrase your thoughts. Substitute 'I don't know anything' for 'I don't know everything, but that is to be expected because I am still learning'. Nobody is ever expected to know it all – only to try their best and work on areas that need attention.

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS

Make a list of both your strengths and your weaknesses. Focus on the areas that you need to develop. Focus on how you can capitalise on your strengths. Keep a running list of tasks completed well, no matter how big or small.

REALISE THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Approach the Career Centre or counsellors at the private higher education institution or public university where you studied. A good institution will be well equipped to put your feelings into perspective, and to assist and guide you to set out on your path with renewed self-assurance.

BUILD CONFIDENCE

Action is the antidote to despair. Don't wallow in feeling of inadequacy or concern about your ability to handle your workload. Commit to being productive and completing one task after the other, putting one foot in front of the other. As your list of small victories grows, so will your confidence and feelings of being empowered.

COMMIT TO LIFELONG LEARNING

In our rapidly changing world of work, it is those who stay at the forefront of developments in their industry, and those who constantly update their skills and fields of competence who remain relevant and in high demand in the workplace. Constantly growing and expanding on your fields of competence, by for instance enrolling for a distance learning, post-graduate or part-time qualification, will ensure that your faith in your ability to make a real contribution in the workplace continues to grow, which will soon banish any feelings of inadequacy for good.

May 07
HIDDEN COSTS & THEIR IMPACT ON STUDY OPTIONS

​Grade 12s should already be well into researching their study options for 2019 and should aim to beat the rush and submit their applications sooner rather than later, whether it be for a public university or private higher education institution, an expert says.

 

"But before you settle on a degree or institution, it is important to make sure that you considered all your options thoroughly, including those closer to home, which will allow you to avoid the hidden costs unrelated to the actual cost of the course," says Nola Payne, Head of Faculty: Information and Communications Technology at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education institution.

 

"Of course it is exciting to think about moving to the other side of the country and starting a whole new chapter of your life outside of your familiar environment, but there are some solid reasons for opting to choose an institution close to home," she says.

 

Payne says apart from the usual advice of how to apply for admission, what you should consider, and which courses you would like to do, the financial impact of studies beyond fees, and the role this should play in your decision, are rarely discussed.

 

She says prospective students should remember to also consider the following when determining how to structure their budget:

 

  • Prescribed textbooks and supplementary material. This could include art material, laptops, and field-specific equipment, to mention but a few. Students will need to budget for two semesters, each of which will contain different modules with their own resource requirements. Depending on the nature of your course, there are also costs associated with printing and copying.

     
  • Accommodation. Will you be applying at an institution that would require you to live in student residence, on off-campus accommodation or will you be staying at home? If you're not going to be at home there are costs such as rent, meals, airtime and laundry that need to be budgeted for as well.

     
  • Travelling costs. This would not only include the daily commute to the campus from nearby student residences or off-campus accommodation, but your budget should include extra costs involved in the longer journeys to return home during the recess periods. Travelling to and from the campus would also incur expenses and this can add up quite quickly. Tickets for taxis, buses and trains or the cost of petrol for your own private vehicle should also be considered.

     

    "There are sound financial reasons for considering studying at an institution close to your home. On top of that, the value of your support structure should not be underestimated.  South African first year dropout rates are high, and lack of support is one of the reasons," says Payne.

     

    "There is a huge gap between the demands placed on you at school, and what you'll need to deal with in your first year studying. The workload is much greater, and there are also additional emotional pressures associated with this new stage of life. We therefore urge the Class of 2018 to carefully investigate all their options, and all the factors that will impact on their emotional and financial wellbeing during their first year at varsity."

     

    Payne says prospective students should remember that there are many options for higher education besides public universities, and that registered private institutions are subjected to exactly the same regulations, accreditation requirements and oversight.

     

    "Considering a local higher education institution will almost always be more economical than one situated far away, because you then have the option of staying at home and saving costs on those extras that come with rental accommodation, plus you will have your support system around you when times get tough.  Given the challenges that first year students face it makes sense to consider delaying living independently until that hurdle is overcome.  Also remember that some institutions have more than one campus, so you could perhaps consider transferring at a later stage when you have found your feet."
May 07
HIDDEN COSTS & THEIR IMPACT ON STUDY OPTIONS

​Grade 12s should already be well into researching their study options for 2019 and should aim to beat the rush and submit their applications sooner rather than later, whether it be for a public university or private higher education institution, an expert says.

"But before you settle on a degree or institution, it is important to make sure that you considered all your options thoroughly, including those closer to home, which will allow you to avoid the hidden costs unrelated to the actual cost of the course," says Nola Payne, Head of Faculty: Information and Communications Technology at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education institution.

"Of course it is exciting to think about moving to the other side of the country and starting a whole new chapter of your life outside of your familiar environment, but there are some solid reasons for opting to choose an institution close to home," she says.

Payne says apart from the usual advice of how to apply for admission, what you should consider, and which courses you would like to do, the financial impact of studies beyond fees, and the role this should play in your decision, are rarely discussed.

She says prospective students should remember to also consider the following when determining how to structure their budget:

  • Prescribed textbooks and supplementary material. This could include art material, laptops, and field-specific equipment, to mention but a few. Students will need to budget for two semesters, each of which will contain different modules with their own resource requirements. Depending on the nature of your course, there are also costs associated with printing and copying.

     
  • Accommodation. Will you be applying at an institution that would require you to live in student residence, on off-campus accommodation or will you be staying at home? If you're not going to be at home there are costs such as rent, meals, airtime and laundry that need to be budgeted for as well.

     
  • Travelling costs. This would not only include the daily commute to the campus from nearby student residences or off-campus accommodation, but your budget should include extra costs involved in the longer journeys to return home during the recess periods. Travelling to and from the campus would also incur expenses and this can add up quite quickly. Tickets for taxis, buses and trains or the cost of petrol for your own private vehicle should also be considered. 

    "There are sound financial reasons for considering studying at an institution close to your home. On top of that, the value of your support structure should not be underestimated.  South African first year dropout rates are high, and lack of support is one of the reasons," says Payne.

     
    "There is a huge gap between the demands placed on you at school, and what you'll need to deal with in your first year studying. The workload is much greater, and there are also additional emotional pressures associated with this new stage of life. We therefore urge the Class of 2018 to carefully investigate all their options, and all the factors that will impact on their emotional and financial wellbeing during their first year at varsity."


    Payne says prospective students should remember that there are many options for higher education besides public universities, and that registered private institutions are subjected to exactly the same regulations, accreditation requirements and oversight.

    "Considering a local higher education institution will almost always be more economical than one situated far away, because you then have the option of staying at home and saving costs on those extras that come with rental accommodation, plus you will have your support system around you when times get tough.  Given the challenges that first year students face it makes sense to consider delaying living independently until that hurdle is overcome.  Also remember that some institutions have more than one campus, so you could perhaps consider transferring at a later stage when you have found your feet."
May 04
Bid to end exclusion of private institutions
Apr 16
GRADE NINE SUBJECT CHOICES: AVOID RISKY SELECTIONS IN FACE OF CHANGED REQUIREMENTS

​In coming months, Grade Nines will choose which subjects to pursue during their final school years and on which they will be tested when they sit for their final Matric exams. And while the Department of Basic Education announced the withdrawal of the "designated subject" list earlier this year - the list of subjects from which students who want to pursue a degree after school have had to select their subjects – there are some serious considerations not to be ignored, an expert says.

"Some may argue that the withdrawal of the designed subject list gives young people more choices, but we urge schools and learners not to make risky and uninformed changes," says Dr Felicity Coughlan, Director of The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education provider.

She notes that the original list contained many of the traditional subjects used to gain access to University, and that many of these subjects required learners to master skills that will be important for them to succeed in higher education after admission.

"These skills include argumentation and reasoning, found in subjects such as History, logic and mathematics as found in Accountancy and Maths or Maths Literacy, and evidence and scientific reasoning skills, as found in Physical Science and Life Sciences. 

"Additionally, the two-language requirement also ensured a well-rounded educational experience for students living in a multilingual country.  The reasoning behind the original inclusion of these subjects should be remembered, and students are encouraged not to put together a collection of subjects that are all of one type which will result in them developing less holistic academic skills.  The impact on their studies later in life will be real," says Coughlan.

In addition, learners considering their subject choices should remember that despite the change of requirements at school, Universities were not at the same time required to change their admission requirements.

"Higher education institutions need not change entry requirements if they don't want to, and one can be sure that many – if not most – won't. Definitely not in the short term, and particularly not for those qualifications that currently require Mathematics or Life Sciences. We therefore encourage learners to do their homework before opting out of these traditionally required subjects."

The third consideration follows from the first two, says Coughlan. 

"Some subjects, such as Design, were omitted from the original list but have been accepted by some institutions for several years now as part of conditional admission requirements for certain qualifications.  Design thinking is a strong and necessary skill for modern living and it is likely that it will become more and more acceptable for admission to higher education." 

Design therefore is one of the examples that should be considered as part of a portfolio of creative subjects after learners have checked its acceptability to the higher education institution of their choice, Coughlan notes.

"In light of these changes in subject choice requirements, and given the risk of learners opting for perceived easier subjects or subjects that are too similar in nature, we urge learners to investigate their options carefully, and schools to support them in making informed decisions," says Coughlan.

"The public higher education sector is not likely to change quickly to accept subjects they currently do not accept, and while the private higher education sector may be more progressive, our advice remains the same as it has always been: to select subjects that keep your study options open. This means learners should include at least one subject in which they know they can excel, and then others that will teach you a range of different skills. 

"In today's volatile and uncertain world, it is more important than ever before to cultivate an extended base of skills from which you can draw, to improve your chances of succeeding."

Apr 09
CRAVING CONNECTION ON CAMPUS: BRIDGING THE DIVIDE IMPROVES FIRST-YEAR SUCCESS

​South Africa's notoriously high drop-out rate among first year university students can be ascribed to a number of factors. One of these include a disconnect between lecturers and students and, if addressed, can make a difference not only to individual student success, but also to overall throughput statistics, an expert says.

"We hear a lot about this idea that modern students are different.  That can be really daunting when standing in front of a group of students, as those differences are not clear and are wrapped up in further obscurity with references to 'digital natives', short attention spans and even 21st century skills - as if every lecturer should understand what that means and know how to adapt their teaching as a result," says Tshidi Mathibe, Head of Programme: Faculty of Commerce at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education provider.

She says given this context, it is important to focus on the fact that today's students, just like young adults of all generations past, are caught in between worlds and ways of being, with the new overlay of technology and an uncertain world further complicating matters. 

"Therefore, lecturers who want to support their students' learning need to make sure that they engage with the students where they are at and take it from there.  To do that, there are a few things that improve chances of success," she says.

  • KNOW YOUR STORY

"Whatever you say can be Googled students. It is therefore critical that you are a master of what you are teaching. It is also important that you are a role model in helping students understand that the lecture room is only where knowledge starts, because the real learning is being able to make sense of it all by drawing on many sources of information," says Mathibe.

"If you model confidence and curiosity, students will do the same and not find it quite as necessary to put you in your place with differences on detail."

  • IF YOU DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER, SAY SO

    "If you do not know something, students are far more likely to learn from you modelling how to find out answers and will have greater trust in someone who does not simply pretend to know everything," Mathibe says. 

    "Young people have no need to see lecturers are omniscient.  What they want is someone willing to engage with them to extend what you both know. You need to be the master of your discipline, but that is not the same as being its sole custodian."
     
  • BE HUMAN

    Students will only engage with someone whose reactions they can predict and so, if you are consistent, engaging and human, and give them glimpses in to the things that motivate you, you provide them with the hooks and inroads for trusting you with their questions.  

    "If you are able to get students to connect with you as a competent and curious individual, the lecture room is easier to manage as people are far more likely to disrupt the classes of those they do not respect."
  • REMEMBER THAT THEY ARE HUMAN

    Mathibe says that taking time to understand who the students are makes a world of difference to a lecturer's ability to select relevant examples and case studies.

    "Understanding the range of learning styles they bring with them reminds you to offer a range of learning opportunities.  This is not about pretending to identify with their music or even political preferences, but it is about consciously using accessible examples that enable them to anchor their learning," she says.
     
  • USE CASE STUDIES

    Case studies are the most powerful of teaching tools as they provide stories around which theory can be organised and remembered.  

    "Your selection of case studies also speaks volumes about who you are and who you think they are.  Case studies also offer you many opportunities to model problem solving, decision making and critical reasoning resulting in higher quality learning."
  • BRING IN THE EXPERTS

    "Guest lecturers deepen understanding as they provide different perspectives and reinforce what you have been trying to teach," notes Mathibe.  

    "Guest lectures are also the perfect way to offer exposure to a multitude of voices on a topic that will enable more students to identify with someone who is an expert in the field you are trying to share, thereby also reducing boredom." 
  • BRING IN THE TECH

"Use the technology to which students already have access and give them the responsibility to prepare for classes by finding examples, reading online or collaborating on a task.  Teaching time can then be spent reflecting on the steps they have already taken, while the pressure is then on students to keep up rather than on you to drag them along."

"Ultimately what helps students learn and make a success of the challenges of their first year in higher education, is connection," says Mathibe.

"By connecting with students using these strategies one will be able to bridge both real and imagined divides between lecturers and students, and any good public university or private higher education institution must ensure that lecturers are fully trained and empowered to connect meaningfully in this way."

Mar 26
STUDENTS: DON’T GET TRIPPED UP BY OPEN BOOK ASSESSMENTS

Many students will, for the first time, encounter what is called an open book assessment once they start writing tests and exams at their public university or private higher education institution. And while the open book method is a great tool for measuring depth of understanding, too many students initially – and mistakenly - think that taking a book into the testing centre means little to no preparation is required. This could not be further from the truth, an education expert warns.

"Open book assessments are more engaging to the students, because they need to use a combination of memory, creativity and logical thinking. They also result in less pre-assessment anxiety for the students knowing they don't need to recall facts. This is especially advantageous to students who have difficulty in this area," says Nola Payne, Head of Faculty: Information and Communications Technology at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education institution.

Payne says that it is however a major misconception that an open book assessment means there is no need to study or prepare before the exam.

 "This is untrue, because students need to really engage with the material, understand how the concepts and theory can be applied and they should, in particular, practise any numeracy or practical content before they enter the exam room," she says.

Time management is also a factor in open book assessments, adds Payne.

"There is little time for students to page through their textbooks and other resources searching for answers. A good open book assessment will not have the answers in the permitted resources, but rather refer to the methods and related content. The assessment will still need to be engaged with and students required to provide a carefully considered response."

Payne says there is a familiar scenario that plays out for many students who are not used to the open book method of testing.

"Firstly, there may be a misconception that you don't need to study, because you will have access to prescribed textbooks and resources, which is false.

"Secondly, upon sitting down and reading the exam, students may realise that the books won't contain the answers as they may have thought.

"And then finally, the student may realise that the examiner doesn't want recalled facts, but a deeper understanding of the content."

It is therefore incumbent on all good institutions to ensure that new students – many of whom will be unfamiliar with the open book approach – are properly coached before entering the exam room, says Payne.

 

HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS MUST MODERNISE TESTING METHODS

 In addition to ensuring students are empowered to perform optimally when taking open book tests, good institutions need to review and update the methodology of these kinds of tests, with particular attention to developments in the digital space, she says.

"Traditionally, open book assessments allowed students access to printed material authorised by their lecturers," notes Payne.

"That was acceptable when students purchased hard copy textbooks or used articles or publication as references. This is no longer the case. A large proportion of students, both nationally and internationally, no longer purchase hard copy books but rather make use of e-books, online videos, tutorials and web pages for their content and to enhance their learning. Taking this learning style into account, academic assessment methods need to adapt to the digital age."

However too many institutions remain reluctant to change their assessment methods and have discounted "the new way of learning" that the current generation of students use.

"Progressive institutions must make the necessary digital resources available for students to reference in the open book assessment, but still ensure that the assessment requires the students to use these as references and not search for an answer in the permissible resources.

"By providing access to these digital resources, it would be important for the institution to build in restrictions such as that no student will be able to message their peers. These can be restricted (along with locking down browsers) by using smart software solutions," she says.

The open book assessment makes sense when one looks forward to the workplace, where an employee will never be given a task while not being permitted to complete it by accessing the internet.

"The employer expects the employee to have the fundamental knowledge for their chosen career, but expects the employee to be able to use that knowledge to construct a solution – much like an open book assessment," says Payne.

She argues that if citizens and employees of today (and in future) are expected to have access to the internet to perform certain tasks in their daily lives, it doesn't make sense that institutions would be reluctant to test students without this resource and rather use traditional closed book assessments.

"We need to prepare our next generation to be able to adapt to the workplace and provide them the necessary skills to use to be more efficient and effective in their careers.

"Employers would prefer to have employees that can use all the tools available to them to come up with great solutions and not employees who are great at recalling facts. There will always be things we don't know, and this includes specialists in all areas or disciplines. The amount we don't know far exceeds that which we do. And the most valuable skill we can provide our youth is being able to sort and filter relevant information and apply it in a meaningful way."

Mar 12
WHEN SCREENS REPLACE TEACHERS: DANGERS OF INTRODUCING TECH IN THE CLASSSROOM

Technology has taken the world by storm and its use now pervades arguably all fields.  The education sector is also embracing the potential that technology offers, with good schools and universities incorporating tech to strengthen educational outcomes.  But with devices and applications now ubiquitous across generations of learning – from infants to doctoral candidates – an expert has warned that teachers and lecturers must be strategic and judicious about technology, so that it supports learning rather than sabotages it.

Aaron Koopman, Head of Programme: Faculty of Commerce at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest private higher education provider, says being cautious is particularly important at school level, where habits for lifelong learning are either adopted or abandoned.

"One of the most important areas of risk, is where technology hinders the development of social and collaborative skills," he notes.  

"Collaboration and teamwork are global competencies and rely on the ability of learners to engage with others to reach shared outcomes.  While there are ways in which technology can be used, such as online engagement with people on another continent, a document sharing process or a blog, it is also critical to promote collaboration, which means teachers must ensure that the face-to-face engagement skills of young learners in particular are developed," he says.

Another area of concern, is where the convenience (for educators) and addictiveness (for learners) of technology lead to a situation where it effectively replaces teachers, similar to home environments where screens become de facto babysitters.

"The most effective way to use technology is to support, extend, reinforce and enhance teaching.  It becomes a risk however when one assumes that children can learn independently via technology, particularly when it is not at all interactive or responsive."

It is also problematic when technology is passive, for instance when learners and students use e-books that cannot be annotated.

"This renders them less supportive of learning than hard copy books that can underlined," says Koopman.

A significant danger arises where technology is not managed, he adds.

"Over and above the obvious risks when young people access inappropriate material online, classroom management of devices is critical.  If a distracted young person can virtually wander off and play a game or spend time on social media during class time because of a lack of environmental management, valuable teaching time is lost. 

"It is therefore necessary for good schools and institutions to put in place measures whereby they can lock down what can be accessed during class time, or through other management approaches. Having a management strategy is, however, non-negotiable."

Finally, tech fails can make for major teaching headaches.

"While it makes sense to allow learners and students to bring their own devices, that can cause problems when time is wasted on incompatible operating systems or devices that are not properly charged. Good schools and institutions must specify standards for devices and have sufficient plugs and charging stations to assist with this.  Good connectivity on campus is also crucial.

"Having said that, technology should not take over to such degree that learning stops when devices drop us. Good teachers should be able to keep the class learning even if half or all their devices fail. They should be able to transition into a collaborative lesson or even abandon devices completely and still be able achieve the same outcomes without tech."

Koopman says that technology's advantages cannot be overstressed. But that equally, the importance of good real-life teachers should never be under-estimated.

"Excellent teachers stimulate interest, they create excitement in the classroom, they engage with learners and they broaden the thinking of learners. They are able to relate concepts and principles to learners and customise the learning experience to the needs of the individual learners who all have different styles," he says. 

"Quality teaching is in fact technology independent – if schools genuinely believe in the centrality of teaching as the magic of a learning process they will make technology decisions that support learning and teaching, not undermine it."

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