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2012 is rapidly drawing to a close with all its various challenges and opportunities in education. If we look back over the year, what positive changes and trends have we seen? I am just listing a few that I have noticed and have been thinking about.
The internet has become an indispensable part of learning, providing us with all the facts we need at our fingertips. With internet access becoming more global, the children of the poorest families will have an equal opportunity for quality education. Students are more able to be creative and create content with mobile devices in and out of the classroom. Many schools are starting to incorporate the use of tablets for learning. Consequently bandwidth is becoming a focus that schools and the government need to address to make the Internet available to all.
Many schools are moving towards digital learning and interest is growing in the “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend where multiple device types (laptops, slates, tablets, phones) are brought to school to support the technology environment schools want and need.
Global collaboration among classrooms has been very evident. The world is becoming more and more of a global village. I like reading about the mystery skype chats that many classes participate in. The entire class works together to try and find out where is the mystery class is located. Mystery skype is a great way to learn about geography and practice logical reasoning!
Podcasting is on the rise and is becoming popular as an educational tool. Every day one sees free educational webinars on all sort of interesting subjects being offered to teachers.
Everything is going digital. There is definitely a move to publish and distribute digital textbooks in the cloud. Textbook companies realise that they have to change. Siyavula which is well known in South Africa for their free textbooks written by groups of teachers has recently announced that their Natural Science Grade 4-6 workbooks are now free as PDFs on http://thunderboltkids.co.za. At the recent Apple in Education Awards in South Africa, an iPad textbook store was mentioned as a new development in 2013.
There has definitely been a rise in the use of social networking in education. Learning Management Systems like Edmodo and Obami are connecting students within classes to facilitate learning. Facebook groups are popular amongst high school educators. Many teachers and students make use of classroom blogs and wikis. Teachers are finding that twitter friends across the world provide great resources and ideas for the classroom.
Developments in neuroscience and cognitive psychology say that the psychology of how we learn will likely influence how we teach. I notice the emerging research on the brain and music. For example, the power of music to affect memory is quite fascinating. Mozart’s music and Baroque music, with a 60 beats per minute beat pattern, activate the left and right brain. This has all sorts of implications for learning.
Will 2013 prove to be a turning point for education?
Likewise, if I look back on the growth of e-classroom, we have introduced many new developments over 2012. We initially developed CAPS life skills support worksheets for grades R-3 and due to popular demand, we have had to develop same for the intermediate phase learners for various subjects, which will be available on line in 2013. We have also expanded our content reach to provide learners with education resources through various channels:
Breadbin interactive – who have developed a high powered computer in a touch screen kiosk format hosting a comprehensive repository of educational resources;
Paperight – a print-on-demand bookstore;
Khoki – our associate partner who will be launching their online stationery shop and bookstore through the e-classroom URL;
WCED – providing the e-classroom support worksheets on their e-learning URL for teachers to access;
e-Classroom mobile libraries – providing mobile libraries to disadvantaged schools by raising sponsorship for these;
Edunova – providing the e-classroom support material to their community centres.
Last but not least, we will be launching our professional development programmes from February 2013 with KHOKI, where teachers will have the opportunity to share their ideas on technology integration in the classroom as well as networking opportunities. So do look out for our announcements on these! These meetings will be very rewarding.
I would like to thank you for supporting e-classroom so faithfully again this year. This will be the last newsletter of the year and may I take this opportunity to wish you a restful holiday season, and that you are renewed in strength and vision for the opportunities that lie ahead in 2013.
Yours in education