Grade 8 classes at three schools in the province went digital last weekend after learning solutions company Pearson South Africa partnered with the Free State Department of Education to introduce an e-learning pilot project aimed at assisting students to use the latest technology when doing their school work.
The three schools that benefited from the project are Thabo-Vuyo Secondary School in Rouxville, Wongalethu Secondary School in Bethulie and Relebohile-Sibulele Combined School in Smithfield.
Pearson South Africa was supported by connectivity partners FibreCo and Voimar and device partners VastraTech and Intel to set up the digital classrooms.
According to the provincial education department, each digital classroom is fitted with an interactive Smart Board with CAPS approved eBooks, digital assets (videos and games), online assessments and digital lesson plans.
Learners in the digital classrooms have been given individual tablets with access to eBooks, videos and assessments enabling them to learn at their own pace, submit assignments online and track their progress. Teachers have been given laptops to help with lesson preparation and classroom and learning management.
Education MEC Tate Makgoe said the Free State is a performance driven province, hence the need to keep improving the learning environment for students.
“The purpose of the programme is to ensure that learning and teaching is enhanced through latest technological developments such as the use of tablets,” said Makgoe at the launch of a digital classroom at Thabo-Vuyo Secondary School on Sunday.
The pilot programme has been specially designed for Grade 8 learners to enable them to start improving their marks in maths and science at an early stage.
The schools were selected on the basis of their good performance in Grade 12 results. Wonga Lethu got a 100 percent pass rate, prompting Makgoe to promise the school a hall.
“This is an indication that hard work pays,” said the MEC.
He encouraged lower grade learners to start deciding now how many distinctions they would like to obtain in their matric year in 2020.
The MEC said the government was committed to invest in more technology to improve the quality of teaching and learning at public schools.
He said: “The government has recognised the importance of emerging technologies in the educational arena and is committed to driving these solutions with a view to helping learners learn more effectively and teachers teach more effectively and ultimately improving lives. Suffice to say, we are looking forward to implementing this pilot and sowing the seeds of South Africa’s future.”
Pearson Education South Africa chief executive officer Riaan Jonck said: “We are proud to once again be involved with an initiative that will change the landscape of South Africa’s education sector. Technology is the way of the future in education and will increasingly become a part of just about every facet of teaching and learning.
“This technology will provide scope for a more personalised, ‘learner-centric’ space which will hopefully engage learners and spark greater interest in the learning process.
“What’s more is that this pilot brings together the best of both worlds by combining cutting edge technology with the necessary guidance of teachers. We firmly believe that as fantastic as technology is, it forms part of a holistic learning experience in which teachers will always play a vital role.”