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Naledi Pandor’s speech on the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope

Naledi Pandor, South African Minister of Science and technology recently gave a speech about the developments around South Africa’s bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope. South Africa and Australia are the finalists in the bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope.

The SKA is an internationally supported project to build the most powerful and technologically advanced research facility in the field of radio astronomy. It will utilise cutting edge technology in electronics, computing, network connectivity, material sciences and engineering. If this facility is constructed in Africa, it will catapult the Continent to the forefront of science for years to come.

In preparation for hosting of the SKA telescope, South Africa has introduced a comprehensive human capital development programme that supports students across the continent to study physics, astronomy, engineering and ICT. This programme has been extremely successful in attracting young African students into science and engineering and in producing a cohort of postgraduates.

To read Pandor’s full speech on defenceWeb Click Here!

Using cell phones in the classroom?

A SOUTH African education company has figured out a way to allow children to access electronic books (e-books) even when they do not have access to desktop computers.

 A University of SA survey of Gauteng high school pupils showing 75,4% access the internet via cellphones, suggests the ability to open a textbook using a device many pupils have, opens up great possibilities.

Star Schools, which provides extra tuition to 37 000 children nationally, and 22 000 by distance tuition, is to launch this technology nationally through its technology division, My Star, this month.

To read more go to the original article in Business Day on allAfrica.com by Clicking here!

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!