Western Cape ICT centre to transform teaching
Vodacom, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, has launched the Western Cape chapter of the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme in Worcester. This programme is set to transform teaching in the classroom through the use of technology.
The programme includes the establishment of an information and communications technology (ICT) resource centre that is expected to train about 1 400 teachers from 200 schools annually in the use of ICT to support teaching and learning. In addition, 20 schools have been identified by the department to focus specifically on improving maths and science. It is one of nine centres being established in each of the provinces as part of the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme.
"Through the programme teachers will be trained in the use of ICTs and will have access to curriculum content and teacher aids through the cloud which is an internet based warehouse of educational content," says Portia Maurice, head of innovation and partnering at Vodacom.
Launched in October last year, the Vodacom Mobile Education Programme was developed to help the Department of Basic Education meet its goal of exposing learners to ICT and to give teachers access to the highest quality teaching resources.
Information and communications technology offer the opportunity to level the playing field for teachers who previously had little or no access to technology. Interventions such as these are not only expected to improve learner pass rates for mathematics and science in the province, but also to ensure that learners pursue these subjects in university.
"The operation of the centre with the selected schools can serve as a case study on how to use information and communications technology in the classroom and in the future gaps can be identified and solutions provided through an internet connection," says Maurice.
The schools, buildings and teachers have been identified by the Western Cape Department of Education while all the technology elements are supplied by Vodacom and its partners.
The centre is connected to Vodacom's head office in Midrand through a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This serves as a pipeline for information that connects and delivers content to participating schools and teachers and provides a platform for creating a community of teachers who could communicate as well as share ideas and resources.
"The realisation of the importance of technology in education and its successful implementation in our schools is a necessity. This is why we are grateful for Vodacom's support in strengthening and supporting quality teaching through the use of technology. It is an important example of how the private sector and the community can assist the Western Cape government in improving the quality of education in the province, making education better together," says Donald Grant, Western Cape MEC of Education at the opening. "By harnessing the power of technology to deliver quality curriculum, we could ultimately revolutionize how teaching takes place in this province."
The Worcester centre has been fully equipped with a computer room housing 50 computer terminals, educational aids, internet connectivity and training facilities.
Vodacom has committed to supplying content hosting and free internet connectivity for the next three years. Connectivity includes the establishment of a controlled gateway to the internet for each province. This will allow for easy communication among the teachers.
Leading e-learning service providers, Microsoft, Cisco and Mindset, have partnered with Vodacom to provide the centres with software, programme content, certification and training, and educational curriculum content. These digital educational resources are hosted on the website: http://www.digitalclassroom.co.za/
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