Bringing IT to the classroom

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Technology can be used very effectively to extend learning beyond the classroom
walls and is available anywhere on any device. The 3rd International North South
TVET ICT Conference investigated the role of technology in education.


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Marian Theron and Deon Halls
The DHET endorsed 3rd International North South TVET ICT Conference theme
centred on the design of learning spaces and pedagogy to
enhance student performance in the 21st century.
Two hundred and thirty delegates from 29 colleges and 5 universities were in
attendance in addition to eighteen exhibitors and sponsors.

The 3 day programme offered quality presentations from local and international
speakers, including a keynote address delivered by Liz Waller, Deputy Director for
Information and Head of Information Services at the University of York.

Liz’s talk examined the context in which libraries are operating at the beginning of
the 21st century and implications for library space design. She highlighted the move
to technology-enabled learning spaces in the UK HE sector, drawing on statistical
trends in learning space development and exemplars of recent best practice amongst
SCONUL libraries in the UK.
Her session was rich with images, offering a tour round the best of UK HE library
developments over the past few years without leaving the conference centre
The conference also explored student expectations of the digital environment, which
include issues such ubiquitous free-at-the-point-of-use access to the Internet,
robust Wi Fi access and consistent use of the VLE for course administration and
access to course content.
Other considerations include teaching staff with the ICT skills needed to
effectively impart knowledge in a digital environment and ease of connection through
their devices to the university network and assistance with the use of their devices
on campus.

It is clear that a strategy of BYOD (bring your own device) could alleviate the
pressure on college infrastructure, but can only be successful if the spaces are
generously equipped with the appropriate infrastructure. Furthermore the flexibility of
design is challenged by the ongoing demand for fixed IT.
The shift to student-centred teaching methods where the focus moves from the
teacher to the learner was highlighted by Ann Michaelsen from Sandvika Upper
Secondary school in Norway. She demonstrated how different technologies have
assisted learners in the writing and publishing of their own books.
Furthermore, classrooms have become global and students connect and interact
more easily with peers across the world to share information. To this end, video
conferencing technology was used to connect with Marci Powell from Policom in the
USA who illustrated how she engages her students located in different countries
through video and student-centred pedagogies.
Technology is used very effectively to extend learning beyond the classroom
walls and is available anywhere on any device. Technology can also be effectively
used to reduce the cost of course delivery.
The benefits of video technology far outweigh any challenges posed and
students can access learning opportunities despite their busy work and family
schedules. They can improve and supplement their knowledge, skills and employment
prospects. It also leads to improved satisfaction for teachers.
Professor Tom Brown of Unisa offered insights into the future of mobile
technology, dispelling myths and illustrating how the technology can be seamlessly
integrated with all aspects of learning.
According to Alan Livingstone (2014) "Smartphones and other mobile devices are
Swiss Army knives of the 21st century'. It is thus very important to teach the 21st
Century learner to use these devices effectively and to actively engage them
through resource-rich learning material.
Amongst the conference highlights was a panel discussion on the formation of
TVETNet with a view to introducing the proposed model to College Principals, CFOs
and IT Managers from across the country.

Arno Hart (of TENET) presented the concept in a breakaway session and
highlighted the philosophy of ending bandwidth poverty at TVET Colleges through a
well-conceived model that was a viable consideration for colleges.

His ideas centred on TVET Colleges to naturally evolve a home-grown approach
in establishing a national body that would service the high capacity connectivity
needs of the sector. The body would have to conceive an operational network model
and establish a membership base that would be representative of public TVET
Colleges.
Drawing on the lessons of the formation of TENET, it would have to present a
compelling case to the public TVET Colleges and DHET based on a financially viable
model, the essence of which would be dependent on the "collective' approach that
would enable cost savings through bulk supply of services and solutions.
Functionally, TVETNet is intended to operate as a professional service with well
qualified and experienced managers, engineers and technicians to supply the service
and support on a cost recovery model similar to that of TENET.

The 4th International North South TVET ICT Conference is scheduled to take
place from 8 - 12 September 2015.
False Bay College staff engages at the 3rd International North South TVET ICT
Conference
Daniel Meyer (FBC Campus Head) and lectures: Olive Thomas, Silwyn Heuwel
and Brendin Madaramoothoo.

For more information visit
href="http://www.skillsportal.co.za/train/training_providers/view/129-false-b…-
college"> False Bay FET College

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