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News and Opinions

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs raised their kids tech-free — and it should've been a red flag

"Psychologists are quickly learning how dangerous smartphones can be for teenage brains. Research has found that an eighth-grader's risk for depression  jumps 27% when he or she frequently uses social media. Kids who use their phones for at least three hours a day are much more likely to be suicidal. And recent research has found the teen suicide rate in the US  now eclipses the homicide rate, with smartphones as the driving force. 

 But the writing about smartphone risk may have been on the wall for roughly a decade, according to educators Joe Clement and Matt Miles, coauthors of the recent book  "Screen Schooled: Two Veteran Teachers Expose How Technology Overuse is Making Our Kids Dumber." It should be telling, Clement and Miles argue, that the two biggest tech figures in recent history — Bill Gates and Steve Jobs — seldom let their kids play with the very products they helped create. 

 "What is it these wealthy tech executives know about their own products that their consumers don't?" the authors wrote. The answer, according to a growing body of evidence, is the addictive power of digital technology. "

Read more on Algoa FM

When communities are empowered through technology, the economy grows

The South African State is overburdened. It needs constructive private sector partnerships to cope. If not properly managed, the burden could impose a risk to democracy. Increase in unemployment, poverty, inequality and expanding demand for basic services are weighing heavily on the state.

What makes matters worse is that the resources available to the state to tackle these problems are dwindling in an economy that is registering low growth. Unfortunately, the little growth that is recorded is punctuated by a technical recession. The result is that the challenges have almost become a feature of the country’s unhealthy socio-economic fabric that needs to be broken.

Read more: When communities are empowered through technology, the economy grows

I’m a Developer. I Won’t Teach My Kids to Code, and Neither Should You.

"On a recent late-night formula run, I passed by a large display of books about teaching children to code. I have seen these books around, but never such a large display directed toward elementary-aged children. These books are part of a flood of resources—summer coding camps, after-school code clubs, apps designed to teach kindergarteners the rudiments of JavaScript—aimed at equipping children with future-proof skills.

It’s easy to see why parents push coding on their children. What better way to prepare our kids for a future ruled by software than by training them how to build it? If everything is going to be automated, it’s much safer to be the one doing the automating. And if learning to code is good, then learning earlier is better. But while these products may teach kids specific coding languages, they actually have very little to do with the work of creating software."

Read more on slate.com

How I taught myself to code. Litha Soyizwapi. TEDxSoweto

 

Litha Soyizwapi is a graphic designer and a self-taught app developer. His popular GauRider app is the quickest and most elegant way to manage commutes on Gautrain—the rapid transit railway system linking Johannesburg, Pretoria and OR Tambo International Airport in Gauteng Province, South Africa. Here, he talks about how graphic design taught him to think in disciplined ways he had never done before by forcing him to organise and visualize data.

Govt still to determine impact of ICT in its schools

"While there has been a rush to roll out e-learning programmes and get ICT-related devices into learners’ hands, the  department is yet to determine the impact this has had on learner performance. This is according to the Department of Basic Education (DBE), in response to a written parliamentary question posed by Democratic Alliance (DA) member in the National Assembly, Nomsa Tarabella-Marchesi.

In recent years, the DBE and provincial education departments have ramped up efforts to establish an ICT and e-education strategy. The departments have done this by supplying tablets to learners, including  to e-learning programmes, all in the name of digitally upskilling and preparing the future workforce. 

In February, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced his government plans to equip every school child with  workbooks and textbooks on a tablet device over the next six years. However, based on the reply to Tarabella-Marchesi’s question, the department is still to determine the success of its efforts."

Read more on IT Web

'Only 17% of schools in the ECape have internet access'

A mere 945 schools out of a total of 5 421 schools in the Eastern Cape have been connected with Information and Communication Technology (ICT), says the Democratic Alliance (DA).

"That means only 17% of learners, teachers, and principals have access to ICT at school, according to the response to a legislature question I asked Education MEC Mandla Makupula.

"One of the ways to combat the structural poverty that the Eastern Cape education system has foisted on the learners of this province is through a massive internet-related teaching programme, to circumvent the failures of the current education system," says Edmund van Vuuren (MPL), DA Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Education.

Read more in Rnews

Coding In South African Schools: What Needs To Happen To Make It Work

"It’s great that South Africa has decided to roll out coding nationally. But the complexity is that the foundations are not in place for effective implementation.

Dr Mmaki Jantjies, a senior lecturer at the University of the Western Cape’s Department of Information Systems, cites five core elements that need to be in place for effective rollout. These include:

  • infrastructure,

  • teacher training and support,

  • localised learning content,

  • technical support, and

  • safety and security."

Read the full article on Inside Education

Mechatronics, coding and robotics initiative for schools

Africa Teen Geeks (ATG), in partnership with the Gauteng department of basic education, will be piloting a mechatronics, coding and robotics initiative in Tshwane schools from January 2019.

Africa Teen Geeks founder Lindiwe Matlali said the organisation had partnered with the education department to advance the programme.

"We are working with the Tshwane district to pilot the programme before venturing into other districts and provinces.

"At present we are training teachers, a task Oracle is helping us to achieve. They are training teachers in five provinces to make sure that by the time we start the roll-out process, we have a big enough pool of qualified teachers who can teach the content."

Read more in IT Web

Integrating ICT and data into school mathematics education

Driving the use of data in teaching maths at schools came under the spotlight when education bigwigs got together in Grassy Park at the weekend.

Hosted by the Metro South Education District together with Green Shoots, education directors, circuit and curriculum managers, and principals attended the School Management: Data Informed Decisions Conference to encourage and support a maths online curriculum experience, and highlight the value data can add to teaching and learning.

Metro South Education District curriculum coordinator for Grades R to 9 Lorraine Bailey said 52 630 pupils were accessing the maths online curriculum, most of whom were in the south district.

“We have always had teachers using the chalkboard to teach maths. This programme boosts teaching, and gives teachers insight into what pupils are struggling with.”

Read more in IOL.co.za

The future of ICT is in Gauteng's classrooms

"One of the biggest perks of the “Classrooms of the Future” project by the Gauteng department of education (GDE), jokes the principal of one of the first schools where it was implemented, is the way that it has virtually put an end to late-coming. “The WiFi that is available at school acts as a positive reinforcer, because the pupils want to get to school early and connect,” says Sesi Makena, principal of Boitumelong Secondary School in Tembisa."

Read the article in Mail and Guardian

In Pursuing Radical Economic Transformation, Youth Must Harness Technology

In a world that will be dominated by the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing, robotics and cryptocurrencies, for South African black youth to truly advance radical economic transformation, they must embrace the fourth industrial revolution through innovation and creativity. Youth should channel their energy and attention into acquiring skills that will be required in the epoch we are entering.

We should critically question the education system, and ask questions like: What are the skills sets required in the fourth industrial revolution? What type of skills do we have now that will become redundant? Is the curriculum in basic and higher education future-ready? What is the value of knowledge, when Google and YouTube are at our fingertips? Young people, particularly those in the ANC, should honestly reflect on these questions and come with concrete strategy and practical programmes to prepare for this change.

Read more in Huffington Post

Operation Phakisa making strides in ICT in education

"Implemented by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in 2015, and monitored and evaluated by DPME, Operation Phakisa for ICT in Education consists of five work streams, namely connectivity, devices, teacher professional development, digital content development and distribution and e-administration. “We have seen the significance of ICT in Education in the way it has simplified learning,” said Deputy Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Youth Development and Administration Buti Manamela."

Read the full article on Engineering News

Free internet access for all South Africans should be a basic human right

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB SA) has kick-started a campaign for all South Africans to have free basic access to the Internet. As the right to information is one of our constitutional rights, it follows that South Africans should have the ability to access this information freely.

Chris Borain, chair of the IAB SA, says, “We believe in fostering digital equality among all citizens.  While Icasa is taking great strides to address the high cost of data, a basic level of free Internet access is a separate issue that requires as much attention. All South Africans, especially vulnerable groups and those without access to mobile phones, have the right to access information online, from government services, employment opportunities or online education resources.”

The IAB SA is already partnering with other media stakeholders to justify the case for free basic internet access and stimulate dialogue on the matter.

Read more in South Coast Herald

Understanding science teachers‘ use and integration of ICT in a developing country context

Information and communication technology (ICT) has infiltrated society to the point of becoming essential to much of its everyday functioning. People rely on ICT to communicate, access information, and stay connected in an increasing globalised community. In many developed countries, ICT is now strongly featured in education for teaching and learning.

Read more: Understanding science teachers‘ use and integration of ICT in a developing country context

Digital library for Maths and Science high schoolers

Siyafunda digital library created by Zakheni Ngubo challenges three gaps that he has identified in the South African school system; language barriers‚ patchy academic support and teachers lacking in confidence.
The organisation is a learning and data management platform that provides access to local Maths, Science, Entrepreneurship, Financial literacy and digital skills through mobile technology. It integrates teaching through video, audio and e-books using a wireless digital library for high school students for a South African curriculum.

Read more here: https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-05-22-digital-library-a-treasure-chest-for-pupils/

Minister wants to see more women in ICT

As the world enters the fourth industrial revolution, women can no longer be spectators but need to be active participants in this emerging economy. This was the sentiment shared by  minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.  She pointed out that female participation in the ICT sector is woefully low, especially in Southern African nations.

According to the minister, the fourth industrial revolution brings improved employment opportunities in the ballooning ICT sector and increased ability of informal sector women to find opportunities in the formal sector.

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