Premier Helen Zille and Education Minister Debbie Schafer today visited Litha Primary School in Gugulethu to view the progress being made in the province’s eLearning Game Changer.
The Provincial Government is currently connecting schools across the province to high-speed broadband, via a wide area network (WAN). Local area networks (LAN) and Wi-Fi connectivity are being provided for almost every site. Alternative connectivity is provided to schools that cannot connect to the fibre-optic grid.
The Western Cape Education Department is also providing technology progressively in schools, from equipping smart classrooms and refreshing computer laboratories, to providing devices, teacher training and support.
Digital teaching and learning materials can be accessed via an ePortal. The WCED is working with content developers and schools to progressively populate the portal with CAPS-aligned, digital resources.
Premier Helen Zille said: “We chose eLearning as a game changer because of the potential to reduce the gap between poor and well-resourced schools, by improving access to the best education resources and support.”
“The digital revolution is already affecting every aspect of life, including education. Digital technology has the potential to greatly enhance every aspect of schooling, from teaching and learning, to assessment, school management and parent support,” said Zille.
Zille said: “Our visit to Litha Primary has been inspirational because of the way the school leadership, teaching staff and learners have embraced eLearning and are using it to the full”.
All schools will benefit from this game changer. Some schools, such as Litha Primary, are already providing excellent leadership in eLearning, while others have the potential of doing so.
For these reasons, the WCED has identified three types of schools for support, with varying roles and responsibilities. They are:
Litha Primary School is one of sixteen Model schools across the Western Cape where we are providing WAN, LAN, Smart Classrooms and devices to all learners.
The school has 21 instruction rooms that have been outfitted with a teacher notebook, digital interactive whiteboard, visualizer and a wireless data projector, making each classroom a fully modern, digitally enabled space that is connected to the schools wireless local area network (LAN) and the broader Western Cape Government network (WAN).
As with any new changes, teachers and learners were initially sceptical of the new developments in technology at their school. However, teachers have quickly seen how they can benefit from this rollout through training and development.
Microsoft is providing training to the school management team to equip them with skills needed to manage change. The teachers have also received training through Microsoft Teach with Technology courseware. This helps teachers get to grips with the intricacies of the tablet technology and basic integration in the classroom.
Provincial Education Minister Debbie Schafer said: “Our vision is to use eLearning to improve literacy and numeracy, and to ensure that our learners are better prepared for the 21st century. In Model Schools, every classroom will become a Smart Classroom, and every learner will be allocated a device.”
“I am excited to be here today to showcase how well Litha Primary School has transitioned to become one of our Model Schools – this does not happen without strong leadership from the Principal and School Management Team. Thank you for your commitment to improving the lives of the learners through eLearning.”
“Model schools are our hubs of best practice, which will be shared throughout the Province. This will assist the department in building a culture of eLearning in all schools. New eAdmin systems will also free teaching staff to do what they do best – teach,” said Schafer.
How the WCED is driving the eLearning Game Changer
The WCED has established six streams to drive the eLearning initiative across the province. They are:
eCulture, to encourage and support the adoption of eLearning as part of everyday teaching and learning practice
eInfrastructure, to ensure that schools have the connectivity needed for eLearning
eTechnology, to ensure that schools have the technology needed in classrooms for eLearning
eTeachers, to ensure that teachers have the training and support needed for eLearning
eContent, to ensure access to digital resources needed to enhance teaching and learning, and to encourage the development of these resources
eAdministration, to facilitate school administration using digital technology
As part of its eLearning Game Changer, the WCED is working to ensure that every school in the Province begins to feel the benefits and transformative nature of this exciting project.
“Over the Game Changer period, we will aim to ensure that every school is able to leverage off the WAN, which will be installed by the end of this year. Teachers and learners alike will have access to a new world of learning and sharing through the internet. Smart or digitally enabled Classrooms will be connected to the internet. This will ensure that teachers benefit from the increasing volume of quality digital content available on our ePortal,” said Minister Schafer.