Friday, 27 March 2015

My takeaways from the Etilab ‘Emerging Technologies’ Think Tank on 26 March

Submitted by Fiona Beal
Recently I attended the second ETILAB Think Tank on Emerging Technologies in Education. The ‘√Čtilab’ concept was something new to me so I looked forward to finding out more about that as well.

The preliminary program for the day:
  • General overview of glocal developments regarding emerging technologies in Higher Education, Schools and Industry
  • Vision Setting: how glocal developments inform and shape our vision
  • The ETILAB's response to glocal challenges
  • e-Vision of key players: long term, medium term & short term
  • Reflection Orientation: Digital stories from practitioners' lived experiences
  • Solution Orientation: What can we do differently?
  • Industry's response
  • Commitment Orientation: setting goals
  • ETILAB goals
These are a few of my takeaways from the day.

1. It is always interesting to meet and network with the educators attending a conference. We each introduced ourselves with a mention of our day-to-day work.  This gave a great context to the day.

2. The first part of the day centred around Global trends within Educational Technologies. The session was opened by Professor Dick Ng'ambi who manages the Etilab at UCT. The Prof (as everyone called him) introduced the work of the Intel and Lenova Etilab at UCT. I must say he aroused my interest to visit the lab when he described it as a sandpit for teachers to play with and experience new technologies. In his presentation it was interesting to hear about Gartner’s Hype Cycle of emerging technologies showing how new technologies  become popular and then interest wanes before they become a regular part of our lives. (Gartner's Hype Cycle Research Report is an annual maturity assessment of technologies and IT trends). Gartner maintains that identifying and employing the right technologies at the right time is critical.

Professor Dick Ng'ambi
Gartner's Hype Cycle of emerging technologies

3. I found Dr Cheryl Brown from UCT’s presentation on Open Education Resources (OER) very interesting. It seems there are not very many OER resources in the South African Repository. She encouraged us to visit the UCT’s growing repository. This presentation took us through Creative Commons Licensing. Dr Brown says that the current trends among young people seems to be:
  • If I want to know anything I ask Google and will believe everything I read
  • If it is online I can use it.
We also took a dip into the trend of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and how they differ from other ways of teaching and learning online.  MOOCS are hugely popular because they appear to be free. Researchers are interested in analysing the reasons that there is usually a large drop out rate from MOOCS.

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Dr Cheryl Brown
Why are MOOCS not completed?
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Online courses versus MOOCS
      Categories of MOOCS

4. Clinton Walker’s WCED e-Vision for e-Education talk gave a humorous and enlightening. Sounds grand! Will they pull this off I wonder? He talked about the broadband vision, the e-policy vision, the  progression and the skills requirement. I was relieved on hearing that ‘√áRITICAL is the training for teachers embracing the NEW teaching and learning environment.’  Smart classrooms are envisioned for schools as part of this vision.  There is also a focus on the development of E-Content and a tender is out for populating the –resources portal. He likened the implementation of the policy to a ship ready to dock in a harbour with that final part having the critical gap that has to be navigated.
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WCED vision
The Smart classroom envisaged
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Skills requirements
Risks along the critical path…

5. Puleng Makhoalibe from Etilab spoke on the Etilab design process. The acronym for Etilab is (E)mpathy, (T)hink, (I)deate, (L)earn, (A)ct and (B)uild   She showed the creativity process as seen by Chris Thompson in ‘What a great idea’’ .  She Gartner's Hype Cycle of emerging technologies the importance of the sandpit idea where teachers can experiment with technologies.  I enjoyed her explanation of the design process and how it is important to tap into the genius of all in a room.  She urged teachers to “remove your inhibitions, tap into your creativity, use technology to empower you as a teacher, collaborate with others, be transparent, and just be free…”

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The Etilab is likened to a sandpit
Creativity process…

6. After lunch we had four very interesting presentations showing different journeys in education. The programme described this as “Lived experiences of those at the coal face and lessons we have learned from implementation’. Two that particularly interested me were:

a) The presentation from two teachers - a Grade 3 teacher and an ICT teacher at Pinelands North Primary - on the journey of their school.  This school is part of the world-wide Changemaker Schools movement. (I think they mentioned they are the 100th school in this movement.) The two teachers’ descriptions of all that happened at the school were fascinating. The plan is not to produce cultivate ‘bonsai plant’ students where everyone is the same but rather a colourful mix such as found at Kirstenbosch Gardens.

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Pinelands North Primary teachers
The bonsai as opposed to a colourful mix
The two teachers played this great video to show the context and development of their school in the past few years.


b) The presentation showing the journey of Wynberg Girls High School from their Mathematics Teacher/Technology Co-ordinator Peter Schutte. He showed the decisions made at the school regarding technology in the past year and the progress of implementing their ICT policies. He spoke on the tools they encourage the teachers to use and the ways they upskill the teachers and encourage them to take some risks. He mentioned problems on the ground and how they work at solving them. I was very interested in the idea of creating hybrid IT/Teacher positions for those who are interested. I also liked the idea that the teachers visit other schools to get new ideas and liked hearing about the tools they are emphasising at the moment and how they train the teachers in using those tools through screencast videos. This was a really excellent presentation.

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Peter Schutte from Wynberg Girls school
Real changes are being made
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Solutions to problems
Tools they use a lot

There were many other interesting presentations – in face this was a very interesting day! The collection of tweets for the day can be found at

Teachers, go to the ‘sandpit at Etilab at UCT & play with ‘their web tools.  Also consider inviting invite Etilab to do a Professional Development workshop at your school.  

Thursday, 26 March 2015

10 great Google posts this week #8

Submitted by Fiona Beal
This is another of my weekly round ups of Google posts that have caught my eye during the week. Once again it is presented using the useful web curation tool 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

'Microsoft helps upskill with technology’- great article in the Star Workplace newspaper

Recently four South African educators recognised as Microsoft MIEExperts for 2015, plus representatives from the Microsoft Showcase School in South Africa Brescia House,  attended the Global Forum in Dubai.  These are teachers elected for their innovative use of technology in the classroom. This is a newspaper article featuring one of those educators, Phuti Ragophala who is the principal of Pula Madibogo primary in Limpopo. She is seen here with Anthony Salcito, the Vice President of Education for Microsoft Corporation's Worldwide Public Sector in an article in the Star Workplace newspaper.

To read more details about this event please see our previous blogpost South African Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts Shine in Dubai


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

A TeachMeet at Brescia House in Joburg -great opportunity for those interested in innovation in teaching and learning…come along!

Are you interested in innovation in teaching and learning? Here is a great free professional development opportunity for you to join.

Brescia House in Johannesburg will be holding a TeachMeet on Tuesday 9 June from 3-5pm. This is a completely free event, but pre-registration is required. You can register online at  Space is limited to the first 160 people who respond.

During the afternoon there will be 7minute presentations by teachers sharing ideas, resources, tools or methods that they have found particularly effective for learning and teaching. Come along and join one of the curriculum, grade, and/or technology-focused tables of teachers. Your table will also have time to discuss these ideas and share your own curriculum, grade and/or technology specific apps, websites, activities, strategies, anything at all!

Come along and learn as well as share classroom ideas. The event will be held in the Brescia House School Hall, 14 Sloane Street, Bryanston, Johannesburg.


Monday, 23 March 2015

TeachMeet in Port Elizabeth TOMORROW 24th March. Details below…

In November last year we published news about this upcoming TeachMeet in Port Elizabeth: Exciting news - Two TeachMeets planned in Port Elizabeth in 2015 – save the dates! This will be the 26th TeachMeet in South Africa to date!

Well, the long awaited moment has arrived and the TeachMeet takes place tomorrow! If you have ever attended a TeachMeet you will know how exciting it is to network with other teachers and listen to the short presentations which have ideas for the classroom. It will be worth attending if you are in the Port Elizabeth area. Here are the details.

Date: Tuesday, 24 March 2015.
Refreshments and networking: 14:30 - 15:00
Teachmeet: 15:00 - 17:00
Venue: Cape Recife High School (Admiralty Way, Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth)

Two Google Summits taking place in South Africa in 2015 - in Cape Town and East London. Have you registered yet?

SchoolNet will be hosting two Google Summits in 2015 along with the EdTechTeam from the USA, Parklands College Cape Town, and Selbourne Primary, East London. The dates are:
  • Parklands College, Cape Town: October 9th and 10th
  • Selbourne Primary, East London: October 2nd and 3rd.
    Please visit the EdTechTeams: 
Please visit the EdTechTeams website to find out more and to register: 
Since their inception in South Africa two years ago, these Google in Education summits have been outstanding events, providing exceptional professional development opportunities for teachers. We have several posts on our blog about the past two summits:
Here is a flyer about the events:
We encourage you to register and catch the early bird rates before 9 August!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

10 great Google posts this week #8

Submitted by Fiona Beal
I am one of those people who loves reading and creating list posts! The web tool is a great, easy way to add posts to a list which can be embedded on a blog. Recently I added a Chrome extension to my bookmarks bar. It certainly proved to be a good way to keep a track on posts of interest so I am trying it out for my weekly Google round up.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Webinar Recording from Thurs 19th March 3:15pm ‘‘Stop MOOCing about! Time to get serious about online learning using iTunesU!’ by Alan Goldberg from Digicape

On Thursday afternoon 19th March 2015 at 3.15pm we held a very informative SchoolNet webinar entitled ‘Stop MOOCing about! Time to get serious about online learning and explore iTunesU!’ This was presented by Alan Goldberg who is the Director for educational implementation of Apple Technology at Digicape in Cape Town.

The webinar description
Alan Goldberg, our webinar presenter for this week, says: "iTunes U offers the world's largest catalogue of educational content from top education institutions worldwide (32 countries), with over 7,500 public courses across all disciplines. From the likes of Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, the Museum of Modern Art, London School of Economics, Kyoto University and more; to hundreds of K-12 schools, museums and art galleries, including the Smithsonian Institution to the British Film Institute via the Aquarium of the Pacific. But there is another side to iTunes U.


"The ability for any educator to create courseware for their students which, unlike a MOOC which requires the learner visit the relevant website on a regular basis, actually pushes content to a learners iPad. And with the ability to link to existing content in the form of MS Office docs, iWork docs, PDF’s, movies, audio, web links, links to existing courses in iTunes U, Apps from the App Store, ePubs and more, anyone who can create a Facebook post is capable of creating an iTunes U course. No programming required."

The webinar recording
The webinar recording can be listened to on the following link:

SchoolNet South Africa provides a free webinar on most Thursday afternoons during the school term.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Information about Microsoft’s Teaching with Technology free, short online course – and a webinar to listen to…

imageQuite often a teacher wishes he/she could learn more about using technology in the classroom – but there seems to be no time! The ideal in this scenario would be a course that is free to all, has a self assessment tool to identify one’s needs, is short, is available online, let’s you works at your own individual pace, has support and extension activities and top marks would be that it meets a recognised criteria such as UNESCO competencies for ICT in Education. Does this sound like some of your thoughts being re-echoed?

Have you thought of exploring Microsoft’s Teaching with Technology  Course which is available for free on the Microsoft Educator Network at this link

What is the course about?

This course takes up to three hours to work through. As you work through the four Teaching with Technology topics you'll learn about:
  • ICT tools that support student assessment needs at different stages of learning.
  • Tips to use the internet more effectively to support learning.
  • Tools to enable collaboration.
  • Time saving productivity tips for you!

So here are the pluses for doing this course:
  • Total Time: Up to 3 hours
  • Contains: 1 Course of 4 Lessons
  • Qualifies for a badge on the Microsoft Educator Network. This will appear under your profile. 
  • Language: Choose - English, Czech English French Italian Japanese Polish Thai Ukrainian
Here is a breakdown of the lessons

LESSON 1: ICT tools for the evaluation of optimization knowledge
45 mins
LESSON 2: The creation of better learning activities using the internet
40 mins
LESSON 3: Support learning and teaching with the user of technology to support collaboration
45 mins
LESSON 4: Better results thanks to ICT technologies
30 mins

A 16 minute webinar 

Watch this webinar with Megan Rademeyer and Victor Ngebeni on the Microsoft Virtual Academy.

So, why not take a look at Teaching with Technology on the Microsoft Educator Network and give it a try. There's nothing to lose and plenty to gain!