APPENDIX H - Submission to SGB for Educators in Schooling
10 May 2000
SGB: Educators in Schooling
South African educators are struggling against overwhelming odds to adapt to a transforming curriculum and a poor resource base. At the same time we look to our education system to produce products that will help this country to become a significant player in the global economy. We look to the education system to provide life-long learning skills in an information society and we look to the education system to do so equitably. We therefore find ourselves in a system which is simultaneously grappling with issues concerning infrastructure, classroom and textbook provision while much donor funding and development is being poured into the provision of information and communications technology in the same communities' schools. Given the expense and general availability of ICT equipment, and the average levels of qualification and technological literacy of educators, it is evident that the technology gap between more- and less-advantaged communities is growing.
Central to the development of life-long learning skills in an information society is the acquisition of skills that allow learners to use information and communications technology (ICT) as a tool in the learning process, a source of communication opportunities and a source of information. It is incorrect to assume that these skills are vocationally orientated, as catered for in the NSB 10 sub-field of Information Technology and Computer Sciences. The integration of ICT with the school curriculum is not a science. It is an integrated approach to curriculum interpretation. It is also not a study, as catered for in the Communication Studies and Information Studies of NSB 04. Although there is undoubtedly common material between these two studies and curriculum integration of ICT, it is unlikely to be necessary that educators focus so specifically on the sub-field in order to use ICT in the correct context in teaching and learning. On the other hand, it involves much more than mere acquisition of basic, or even, advanced ICT skills. Curriculum integration of ICT is not a subject, but it is a process. Reference is often made to learning to use the computer as opposed to using the computer to learn, or learning with the computer. It is the latter that we strive to implement. It does not mean that the computer takes over the role of the traditional teacher.
There are many misconceptions about the roles of computers in education. Schools are purchasing and requesting donations of ICT equipment for a variety of reasons, but the majority of educators and schools do not have an understanding of the role of ICT and are vulnerable to vendors with vested interests. As a result, expensive facilities are often under-used or misused for simple routine drill-and-practice or applications training courses. While these uses have their place, they are unlikely to contribute substantially towards the development of independent thinking learners who are able to manage information and communications technology appropriately in the development of their life-long learning skills. It takes a well-prepared educator who uses progressive learning strategies to maximise the benefit of ICT in the teaching and learning process - a strategic facilitator who is able to use the technology unobtrusively when it is most appropriate. However, the majority of both in-service educators and university / college graduates are poorly equipped to use ICT in this way. They do not have the knowledge, skills and abilities to use the tools in ways that enhance learning. SchoolNet seeks to facilitate the process of development of these skills in educators by doing the following:
- Providing materials and training for accredited short courses as part of their involvement in donor projects involving thousands of schools in disadvantaged communities.
- Allowing these materials to be used by suitably registered trainers in community centres and other ICT outreach projects.
- Allowing all in-service educators the chance of attending such courses and receiving such accreditation.
- Influencing the content of full qualifications at registered educator training agencies so that there may be suitable emphasis on sound integration of ICT with the curriculum. This would apply to pre-service educators and post graduate courses.
- Being a role player in the generation of unit standards that could form the building blocks of such short course / whole qualifications development.
- Ensuring that the knowledge of and application of these standards are appropriately integrated in existing SGB's that focus on educator training and development
The following list of broad competencies are provided to indicate the field of development that is being referred to:
Appendix E was appended.
It would be appreciated if members of the SGB: Educators in Schooling would consider the role of this very important set of skills in educator training and development and advise SchoolNet on what path would be best to follow in achieving the goals set out in this document.
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