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Impact of the digital era on Higher Education

“Lecturing at universities will change dramatically in the new digital era and the focus will also be more on m-learning (teaching via cell phone)”. This was the viewpoint of Dr Brenda Gourley, rector of the Open University in the UK,  at a recent forum discussion of the Independent Institute of Education (IIE) in Pretoria. 

During the discussion Gourley also emphasized the importance of access to broadband for South Africa. Without broadband students in South Africa will fall behind more and more.

Universities will have to prepare for fundamental transformation. This includes the manner in which research is being done. New suppliers are constantly entering the education sector and are changing the rules of how things should be done. She named the company BP (not the petroleum company) which targets students that do not get enough personal support from a conventional university. Classes are getting bigger and bigger, and students get less support. This company grew by 40 % by presenting extra classes for students.

Referring to Google Gourley said, ” You do not go to the library, the library comes to you”

“People should get away from the notion that technology is just there to support teaching. It is much more, and has enabled communication, collaboration, and participation between people that were not possible before”

Gourley further spoke about the changing circumstances in which children want to be educated. “They want to have control over their learning environment and educators must realize that games are an integral part of the strategy to reach them”.

She also said the costs of current teaching models at universities worldwide are difficult to justify. Every university has its own versions of similar types of courses.

University management faces difficult times ahead and will have to think innovative about how they will support students, how they will make provision for formal and informal learning, and how they will allow peer-group learning without sacrificing quality.

Gourley also reitterated that the increasing availability of material on the Internet will impact on lecturers.  If a lecturer’s classes are not acceptable (of good standard), students will just go to Google to find a better one.

To read the Afrikaans article in Beeld Newspaper on this event Click Here!

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Top South African Journals to go open access

A new project modelled on the Brazil-based Scientific Electronic Online Library (SciELO),  aims to put African research on the map by providing free access to a range of South Africa’s top academic journals. The South African Journal of Science will lead the way, becoming the first high profile open access journal by the end of March.

Robin Crewe of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSA), the publisher of the journal, announced the project at the African Science Communication Conference in Johannesburg last month.

To read more got to the article on University World News by Clicking Here!

Distance Education and Teacher Education in Africa Conference 3-5 August 2009

The Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, University of Cape Coast and the University of Education, Winneba in Ghana and the South African Institute for Distance Education (SAIDE) are arranging a Distance Education and Teacher Education in Africa (DETA) Conference from 3 – 5 August 2009 at the University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana. The theme of the conference will be on “Issues and challenges in education in Africa – the need for a ‘new’ teacher”

For more information visit their web site by Clicking Here!

Nick Taylor’s paper on what is wrong in South African Education and how to fix it.

Nick Taylor, CEO of JET Education Services, presented a paper on 21 November 2008 to the CSR in Education Conference, TSiBA Education, Cape Town, on “What’s wrong with our schools and how to fix them”.

The paper outlines the three main shortcomings in the system, attempts to understand why these problems are endemic in South African schools, and suggests a way forward in the interests of putting all schools onto a more productive path. 

According to the paper three features of the school system combine to undermine effective teaching and learning: poor time management, insufficient attention to text, and very low levels of teacher subject knowledge. With respect to these three factors our teachers and schools are significantly worse off than those many of our much poorer neighbours in the region.

He went on to explain the importance of each of theses areas in achieving quality education, and to analyse the reasons for the shortcomings, basing his discussion on Durkheim’s forms of social organisation.

He went on to explain the importance of each of theses areas in achieving quality education, and to analyse the reasons for the shortcomings, basing his discussion on Durkheim’s forms of social organisation.

To read a copy of the paper Click Here!

Pandor dispels teaching myths

News24 reports:

Various myths and misrepresentations exist in the South African education system, including that teachers and textbooks “don’t matter”, said Education Minister Naledi Pandor on Tuesday. Speaking at an SA Curriculum and Teacher Support (Sacats) conference in Johannesburg, she told delegates this had caused confusion and dismay at schools.  

“Recent evidence suggests that some of our learning challenges emanate from various myths and misrepresentations… The first myth is that teachers don’t matter,” she said in a speech prepared for delivery at the conference.

“The jargon of the curriculum – self-discovery, knowledge generation and so on – has been presented as excluding teachers. This is an unintended consequence.  

Memorising

“Teachers are the key to successful learning. Facts and knowledge are important and learners need support from competent and knowledgeable learners. We need to devise interventions that restore the confidence of teachers,” Pandor said.  

A second myth was that teachers should not teach or guide, but allow “discovery”.  

This had led to teachers being “compelled” to teach in groups, to avoid the use of the blackboard, and to resist intervening even when pupils could not cope.  

Pandor said the third myth was that pupils shouldn’t be taught to memorise. Teachers were told that memory is antithetical to the new approach.  

Memorising has been confused with regurgitating, and this confusion has caused huge challenges, she said.  

A fourth myth was that textbooks did not matter. This had eroded the importance of textbooks and other curriculum materials. “Curriculum advisers have to take a leading role in reversing these myths,” Pandor said.

Centenary Research Indaba 2008

The Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria, South Africa will be hosting a Centenary Research Indaba on the 11th of April at the Groenkloof Campus of the University. The theme of the Research Indaba will be “100 Years of Knowledge: Reflecting on the Paving of Ways into the Future”.

To view the programme and abstracts of papers that will be presented, click here!