Managing ICTs in South African Schools A Guide for School Principals

Each chapter is structured around a key question. The authors hope that this will guide principals in reflecting on their current situation and will then enable them to go beyond this to making more informed decisions about the use and management of ICTs in their schools.

Chapter 1: Why should we have computers in schools?
This chapter contextualises the drive towards providing schools with ICT resources in terms of broad social and economic imperatives. It also considers some of the macro-level arguments for having ICTs in schools. It covers aspects such as:

  • What ICTs are;
  • Their role in social and economic development; 
  • Global and regional patterns and trends;
  • The meaning and implications of the digital divide;
  • Implications of global trends for schooling;
  • South African policy responses regarding ICTs in schools with specific reference to the White Paper on e-Education.

Chapter 2: How can schools benefit from computers?
This chapter describe the range of uses of computers in schools. It moves from the macro-benefits of ICTs ineducation to the micro-benefits – how learners’ and teachers’ lives are directly affected by computers in their schools. Benefits at this level might include:

  • For school administration – making it faster, more efficient, and more manageable.
  • For communication – among and beyond the school community.
  • For supporting teaching and learning – including:
    • support for a range of teaching and learning practices;
    • specialised support for learners with special needs;
    • as an energiser of both learners and teachers;
    • as a lever for on-going professional development and for change in teaching and learning practices.
    • as a community outreach/social responsibility strategy.

We have used teachers’ comments taken from the SAIDE research project into the use of computers in schools to describe these benefits. They are consistent with what is envisaged in the White Paper on e-Education (Department of Education 2004) and elsewhere.

Chapter 3: How can computers be used in teaching and learning?
This chapter focuses on some of the things that teachers and learners can do with computers that lead to the benefits described in Chapter 2. It gives short case studies and examples to illustrate key ways in which computers can be used. It also describes the computer-related resources needed to support each use. It gives a framework for categorising the range of uses and considers how the emphasis on these might change from the Foundation phase to the Further Education and Training (FET) band. It pays attention to how learners with special needs might use computer-related resources. Finally, it describes alternative routes to integrating computer literacy into the curriculum. The chapter makes clear the limitations of the use of computers, and stresses the role of the teacher’s professional judgement in deciding what to use when and for what purpose. The need for sound pedagogy to underpin ICT use is also highlighted – ICT is only as good as the person using it. If a teacher does not understand how to teach well, then ICT cannot, on its own, solve the problem.

Chapter 4: Can all schools use computers in all the possible ways?
This chapter develops the idea that there are both possibilities and constraints in the use of ICTs. Informed decisions have to be made to make the best use of what is available. These decisions are complex, as a range of options is possible with each set of resources. Much depends on a vision for use and how to match the vision with what is, in fact,possible.
The chapter discusses some of the key issues around the resources that are needed for computers to be used effectively. It uses a set of case studies drawn from the SAIDE research project as examples that highlight key points about what needs to be in place. This includes:

  • Resources themselves and access to them. This chapter consolidates information on the range of resources available, and the implications for the different uses developed in Chapter 3. It makes clear that the number of computers in a school is also an issue, as are the maintenance and security of the resources that do exist.
  • Staff competence – both with regard to ICT literacy itself, and to pedagogical applications.
  • Staff willingness to accept new technology – the importance of buy-in from teachers as well as the need for proper professional and technical support.

The constraints and enabling factors described above impact on things such as:

  • The number of learners who can have direct access to ICT resources, and the amount of time they can spend on a computer;
  • The number of teachers who will access computer-based resources, and what they can and will actually do with these resources; and
  • How the above constraints and enabling factors affect administrative staff.

The chapter ends with a table describing eight types of use of computers in schools and the resources, support and training needed for these uses. It also considers the idea of stages of ICT integration into a school, and makes the point that this is a gradual process which happens over time. The table in the chapter refers to a much more detailed set of tables in Appendix 2.

Chapter 5: How can a school build a shared vision for ICT use?
This chapter looks at the process of vision building as a key component of strategic planning.Issues included in this chapter are:

  • Why a vision is necessary and what it should contain;
  • Steps in developing a vision;
  • Strategies for creating a shared vision and buy-in from the school community for ICT integration.

In the final section of the chapter, we analyse three different examples of vision statements. We make links between the vision statements and the tables on ‘Types of Use of Computers in Schools’ in Appendix 2. In addition, the examples illustrate the importance of rooting the vision in the present reality while simultaneously looking to the future.

Chapter 6: How do we go about implementing the vision?
This chapter looks at strategic planning for implementation of ICT in a school and is organised around the key planning questions: Where are we now? Where do we want to be? How do we get there from here?
Topics include:

  • Analysing your current situation (SWOT analysis is used as an example);
  • Guidelines for choosing priorities;
  • Setting goals and objectives;
  • Developing an action plan.

Chapter 7: What are some of the practicalities that need to be considered?
This chapter deals with a range of practical matters:

  • Financing ICTs – budgeting, fundraising, purchasing, maintaining and upgrading;
  • Deciding where to put the computers once they are bought (from a single computer in a single office to many computers in offices, staff rooms and/or a computer centre);
  • Making sure that the computers and other ICTs are secure (both from external crime and from problems
  • such as viruses);
  • Developing policy for the use of the computers and related equipment; Developing and supporting staff, not only in using computers to work more efficiently, but in implementing new pedagogical approaches.

Issues such as how to set up a computer centre or identifying the appropriate staff development strategy are, in fact, essential parts of the planning process. Chapters 6 and 7 are, therefore, linked in important ways.

Read More: Managing ICTs in South African Schools: A Guide for School Principals


Research used in this guide is based on a research project led by Dr Susan Cohen for the South African Institute for Distance Education (SAIDE). See The Use of Computers in Schools (2003) (listed in the Reference List under “Reports”) Final Saide Layout 02/10/2005, https://www.education.gov.za

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