Vir­tual teach­ers’ project launched

Thou­sands of pupils dial in to WB Rubu­sana’s dig­i­tal class­room ini­tia­tive

Go! & Express - - Front Page - QHAMANI LINGANI

THE East­ern Cape Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion in con­junc­tion with Vo­da­com took a step fur­ther in the dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion of ed­u­ca­tion in the prov­ince when they launched a vir­tual teacher project at WB Rubu­sana in Mdantsane un­der the East Lon­don ed­u­ca­tion district of­fices this week.

The move fol­lows Vo­da­com’s pro­gramme for mo­bile de­vices in­tro­duced in the prov­ince ear­lier this year to pro­mote the use of dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy in East­ern Cape schools.

Stu­dents from var­i­ous lo­ca­tions will be trans­ported to teach­ing sites in the East­ern Cape, in­clud­ing Mdantsane, Ma­luti, Lusik­isiki and Mount Frere.

Vir­tual Teacher is a new in­ter­ac­tive tech­nol­ogy plat­form which al­lows an in­di­vid­ual teacher or lec­turer to de­liver lessons in real-time to mul­ti­ple re­mote class­rooms or lo­ca­tions si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

East­ern Cape Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion su­per­in­ten­dent-gen­eral Themba Ko­jana said the depart­ment was pro­mot­ing in­ter­ac­tive vir­tual teach­ing and learn­ing, par­tic­u­larly in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

“Tech­nol­ogy such as the Vir­tual Teacher plat­form al­lows teach­ers to in­ter­act with re­mote learn­ers to in­crease their un­der­stand­ing of school sub­ject ma­te­rial, with a goal to im­prove learn­ing out­comes in the prov­ince,” Ko­jana said.

A Grade 12 stu­dent from Vu­la­maz­ibuko High School, Zama Sivi, said they were ex­cited about the jour­ney they would be em­bark­ing on.

“Ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple will be teach­ing us about maths, ac­count­ing and sci­ence. They will be here in Mdantsane in our schools, but learn­ers from dif­fer­ent parts of East­ern Cape will also ben­e­fit at the same time,” Sivi said.

Vo­da­com Busi­ness’s chief of­fi­cer, Vuyani Jarana, said they were work­ing with the pro­vin­cial ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment to ad­dress some of the chal­lenges fac­ing the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, par­tic­u­larly in ru­ral and un­der­per­form­ing schools.

“This is all about bring­ing in­no­va­tive tech­nol­ogy to those who need it most in or­der to im­prove learn­ing out­comes for all ed­u­ca­tion seg­ments in our coun­try. The fu­ture of the South African ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is dig­i­tal and we must em­brace the op­por­tu­ni­ties this of­fers to leapfrog in­fras­truc­tural back­logs and legacy is­sues in our schools.”

The plat­form is sup­ported through por­ta­ble hardware which de­liv­ers high qual­ity vi­su­als and sound.

The tech­nol­ogy en­ables live in­ter­ac­tion with the re­mote au­di­ence through a tex­ting Q&A fa­cil­ity for writ­ten re­sponses dur­ing the les­son.

There is also a free App (ap­pli­ca­tion) where stu­dents are able to watch and lis­ten to classes. Through a range of smart de­vices, pupils can join classes from any­where and at any time. The Vir­tual Teacher plat­form en­com­passes a cam­era, mi­cro­phone and stream­ing unit which can be streamed from any de­vice.

Lessons can be pre-recorded if needed and recorded con­tent can also be down­loaded to any de­vice.

Pic­ture: QHAMANI LINGANI

VIR­TUAL CLASS­ROOM: The pro­vin­cial ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment and Vo­da­com launched a vir­tual teacher pro­gramme in Mdantsane on Mon­day that could help im­prove the pass rates of un­der­per­form­ing schools. A pre­view of a vir­tual les­son was pre­sented to more than 100 pupils, teach­ers and of­fi­cials at the launch

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