The buy-in and the professional development of teachers are key to the success of e-Education. It is necessary for teacher professional development to specifically address how digital tools and resources can support teaching, and enhance learning in different subjects within the wide range of socio-economic contexts that South African teachers encounter.
ICTs integration skills should be regarded as required skills for teachers. Teachers will never be replaced by technology, but teachers who don’t use technology, might be replaced by teachers who do.
DBE has developed a Professional Development Framework for Digital Learning. “The main aim of the Framework is to provide guidelines for professional development, specifically to ensure competent educators who use ICTs to enhance teaching and learning, and leaders and support staff who are able to facilitate the development of educator digital learning competencies.”
The Framework makes provision for an online self-assessment tool and reference to fully CPTD approved short courses for teachers who would like to improve their ICT skills. The self-assessment tool is available at here.
Other platforms which also offer teacher development courses are the following:
It is recommended that Teacher Development should include, but are not limited to the following:
- Teaching Strategies:
- Blended Learning: This is a combination of traditional teaching methods and activities where ICTs are part and parcel of the teaching, learning and assessment process.
- Flip the Classroom: Instead of the teacher preparing and presenting the content to the learners, the learners prepare and present to the rest of the class. The teacher still manages the teaching process and ensure that all content is curated and covered.
- Classroom Management Systems: The two most common ones are the following…
- Google Classrooms
- Microsoft Teams
- Trends in eLearning (should include, but are not limited to the following):
- Adaptive Learning: This “… is an educational method which uses computer algorithms to orchestrate the interaction with the learner and deliver customized resources and learning activities to address the unique needs of each learner.”
- Microlearning: “Microlearning is a holistic approach for skill-based learning and education which deals with relatively small learning units.”
- Video-based Learning:
- Teacher to learn how to create their own instructional videos by using PowerPoint, document cameras, mobile phones, etc.
- This popular trend (video-based learning) requires ways to get learners more engaged in the video content by adding links in the video to short assessments and supplementary content resources.
- Live streaming/broadcasting:
- Teachers to learn how to use platforms like Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, WhatsApp, etc to do online teaching and to interact with the students online.
- There are also national broadcasting solutions, e.g., Telematics and Mindset which teachers can use.
- Virtual Reality: “Virtual reality (VR), the use of computer modelling and simulation that enables a person to interact with an artificial three-dimensional (3-D) visual or other sensory environment.” Many platforms, e.g., Google Expeditions, provide relevant educational material. Watch this demo here.
- Augmented Reality: AR can be defined as a system that fulfills three basic features: a combination of real and virtual worlds, real-time interaction, and accurate 3D registration of virtual and real objects. Example: You will give learners a sketch on paper of the human body, but when they scan it with a mobile app, the body becomes 3-D. Watch this demo here.
- Holographic Reality: “A hologram is a photographic recording of a light field, rather than an image formed by a lens.” These 3-D images are more easily available than real objects. Watch this demo here.
- Mobile learning:
- Mobile learning is important, because …
- Instead of just banning mobile phones from schools, schools should teach learners about the ethical use of phones, as well as the online resources accessible via phones.
- Mobile devices could be used in the following ways for teaching, learning and assessment: Voice communication, text messages, video and or voice recordings (teachers and learners), use of mobile apps, live meetings (e.g., Zoom), internet research, online assessment, etc.
- Gamification and Game-based learning: This is the use of educational games, or use the elements of sport to enhance your teaching: enthusiasm, motivation, inspiration, competition, tactics, strategies, goals, sense of achievement, celebrations, rewards, etc. A number of tools are available for free here.
- Artificial Intelligence: Robots & Chatbots
- “Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions.”
- Coding is computer programming: the language in which we communicate with computers. These are clear, logical instructions given to the computer to perform a task successfully.
- Robots & Chatbots: “A robot is a machine programmable by a computer and capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically.” “A chatbot is a software application used to conduct an on-line chat conversation via text or text-to-speech”. They are used on websites, social devices (e.g. Alexa), mobile devices (Woebot App) or could be downloaded onto computers and mobile phones to experiment with (e.g. Verbot 5).
- Cloud computing: It “… is the delivery of computing services—including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence—over the Internet (“the cloud”).” One of the educational benefits of cloud computing is that it provides the opportunity for easy collaboration and group work.
- Educational websites: Schools/teachers can have their own websites which could be used for communication and/or content storage.
- Online (automated) assessments: The development of online, automated marking tests is an excellent way of reducing time spent on the marking of tests. Learners can do these tests on any device which is connected to the internet and the results are instantly available. No coding is required. The two recommended platforms are Google Forms and Microsoft Forms. An example is available here.
- Social Learning: This is the natural way learning happens: learning from and with others. It is all about imitation, inspiration, innovation and diffusion. It may happen through direct contact (face-to-face) or indirect contact (e.g., interactions on social media).
- Direct contact (examples):
- Professional Learning Communities (Teachmeet): Sharing best practices
- Provide opportunities to the learners to express themselves
- Let them compete with their peers
- Arrange for Q&A sessions
- Allow learners to discuss in groups
- Indirect contact (examples):
- Facebook groups
- WhatsApp groups
- Online collaboration tools
- Content Curation: “Content curation is the process of sorting through content and presenting it in a meaningful, organized way around a specific theme or category.” Out of millions online documents the teacher will select a few relevant documents which learners should use when they research a topic.
Teachers use computers also to perform their own administrative tasks, e.g. planning, preparing presentations, lesson plans, setting of tests, capturing of marks, etc.
Schools use the official departmental South African School Administration & Management System (SA-SAMS) SA-SAMS is a computer application specifically designed to meet the management, administrative and governance needs of public schools in South Africa. The implementation policies of provinces can differ and principals are advised to consult provincial-specific policies or circulars on the matter.
SA-SAMS has been developed to provide schools with a cost-effective, easy-to-use and fully-integrated computer solution containing all aspects of school management requirements.
SA-SAMS consists of a number of different modules:
- General School Information:
This includes school details, school cycle details, classes, school subjects, feeder schools, disciplinary/ demerit and merit codes, house groups, school terms, teaching and non-teaching days and a year planner.
- Human Resource Information:
This includes educator information, staff information, INSET training records, development appraisal interview records, weekly staff attendance and the Integrated Quality Management System for educators.
- Learner and Parent Information:
In this module, administrators can maintain learner enrollment information for current learners or future registrations. Parents can also be added to the system. Schools can keep disciplinary/demerit and merit records, record incidents, and maintain a record of learning barriers. It can also maintain a record of sport, arts and culture. This module records weekly learner attendance and year-end learner promotions.
This module keeps record of all issues pertaining to the School Governing Body (SGB), namely members, functions, policies and training records. Various reports are available. The school can view statistics regarding learner misconduct and fee exemptions, as these are areas that require decision making by the governing body. Sexual harassment incidents are also maintained here, as they also require decision making by the SGB and they can be printed out.
- Standard letters and forms:
The mail merge facility can be used to send existing or new letters to a selected group of people. Blank application forms can be printed for learners and parents, educators and staff. Completed data forms can also be printed and sent out for verification of the accuracy of the data. Mailing labels can also be created and printed
The exporting of Survey data from SA-SAMS is one of the key advantages of the use of SA-SAMS. The export functionality takes all the required General School Information, HR Information and Learner Information within SA-SAMS and automatically populates the relevant sections of the survey to vastly reduce time and errors for schools in completing the survey. The survey file is produced in xml format and delivered as an electronic file to the provincial EMIS unit for easy import into the provincial system.
The system setup function allows the school to maintain their financial system parameters. Either annual or monthly budgets can be maintained. All receipt and payment transactions can be maintained and journals can be viewed or printed. All deleted financial transactions are written to an audit file. Debtors and school fees (including school fee exemptions) can be maintained and various reports are available. Bank reconciliation can be done and various financial and transactional printouts can be printed. Expenditure and budget information can be exported to the SA DMS system. Year-end functions include writing off bad debtors, processing year-end transactions and opening a new financial period.
The school uses this module to set up the structures for recording and reporting on the progress of learners. School subjects, learners and educators are linked here. The school can maintain their subjects and learning outcomes per subject. Evaluation cycles are set up usually for the end of each term, with a final promotion cycle at the end of the year. All school-based assessment activities can be recorded here.
An automated timetable has been added to SA-SAMS. This ensures a fully-functioning school.
- Physical resources and school infrastructure register:
This module has three functions: Learner Support Materials; Fixed Assets; and Physical Infrastructure.
- Security and database functions:
The administrator can use the security functions to add users to the system and maintain their user rights with regards to all modules in SA-SAMS. Password maintenance can also be done. Database functions include export of data fields to MS Excel, compacting the database and the Microsoft backup and restore facility. Security includes physical security, software security; programme security and backup/restoring of data.
This module is designed to ensure that all schools can administer the day-to-day running of a school library facility. They can create and manage a library catalogue, manage system users, issue, return and renew library items, manage fines, manage reservations and manage history records.
The SIAS module was integrated into SA-SAMS to reduce the administrative burden related to the assessment of special needs learners. Sections include background information on the learner, diagnostic profile, extended profile, individual support plan, assessment of support requirements and an action plan for additional support.
Schools are able to approve and manage their data for the national tracking system through the use of this module. Data is exported to the national tracking system and imported from the national tracking system via xml file format without requiring schools to capture any data twice.
SA SAMS can be managed in two ways:
- Using administrative staff
- An administration staff member is appointed as the SA-SAMS clerk. This person must be thoroughly trained in SA-SAMS. Three quarters of her/his time will be involved in the administration of SA-SAMS.
- The use of an administrative staff is advantageous for the following reasons:
- Work can be done throughout the day
- One person is accountable for the operation of SA-SAMS
- One person develops in depth skills in SA-SAMS
- An operational schedule must be set out according to the needs of the school.
- Time must be scheduled for the following type of operations to:
- Ensure that all new learners captured on the data base, subjects/learning areas are added to all learners, school calendar is completed, learning programme in all subjects are added and printed for the parents etc.
- Class lists for all subjects/learning areas are printed for educators.
- Dates when teachers must hand in their learner’s marks. This is critical and must be spread out to avoid slow periods and congested periods.
- Regular times for operations like absenteeism
- Times for the school accountant to complete financial matters
- Asset management
- Time for completing new time-table for following year etc.
- Large schools need to use only one computer if the time management of capturing data is carefully worked out.
- A school management team member must oversee and support the administrative staff official at all times.
- Using school educators
- A small group of educators may work as a team to capture learner performance and other operations. This time will have to be additional to prescribed teaching time, usually in the afternoons. Due to the shorter time period and more than one user, a number of computers may need to be networked.
- SA-SAMS may be networked, but users must use different functions or different data bases simultaneously.
- In the same way as shown above an operational schedule must be set out according to the needs of the school. A time must be scheduled for all the different operations:
- Careful thought must go into the planning of the end of term schedules and printing of reports. Data must be regularly backed up and where possible an extra printer must be available in case of a breakdown. Extra stationery and toner must be procured in good time to avoid delays with printing of reports.
Data Driven Districts (DDD) is an online platform which has been developed to assist education managers at all levels, including schools, to take informed decisions. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) works in partnership with the Data Driven Districts Programme to support improved learner outcomes through the increased quality, availability, analysis and use of education data. Data provided by schools are summarized, analyzed and visualized and made available at the DDD online dashboard here.
Cyber security is a necessity and it is the responsibility of schools to protect the ICT infrastructure (devices, connectivity and programmes), the integrity of school data, as well as the personal information of learners and teachers.
Therefore, security measures may include the following: The development and implementation of an e-Safety Policy for the school which may include topics like security of the building, antivirus software, firewalls, training of teachers on legal prescripts (e.g., POPI act) and the teaching of learners on the ethical use of ICTs.
To assist schools the Department of Basic Education has developed the following document: Guidelines on e-Safety in Schools: Educating towards responsible, accountable and ethical use of ICT in education.
The purpose of the document is “… to identify the different ICTs currently used by school communities in particular, teachers and learners and to recommend strategies around managing ICTs in order for the appropriate and optimum use in, and for, education. This can be done by identifying all role players involved and their role and responsibility toward electronic safety (e-safety).”
Therefor it is recommended that schools use these guidelines and develop and implement an e-Safety Policy for the school.
Guidelines on e-Safety in Schools: Educating towards responsible, accountable and ethical use of ICT in education.