Teaching: a difficult job worthy of recognition
8th March 2017
Skills upgrade
8th March 2017

Technology that gives you ‘Extra marks’

A digital learning initiative promises smart teaching and learning solutions

Thabo Mohlala

Ngwako Ramalatsi, a grade 11 learner at Dendron Secondary School, 60km north of Polokwane, Limpopo, vows to ace this year’s examinations and next year’s too. He went as far as predicting his class would put the school’s name on the map, with excellent matric passes in 2017. This is because his school played host to the launch of a recent digital learning initiative that promises to make learning exciting both at home and in the classroom.

Called Extramarks, with the promise of “bagless learning”, it is a digital learning provider delivered via “smart learn classes, tablets and after-school solutions”. Ramalatsa is especially pleased at not having to tote heavy schoolbags to and from school, because everything needed is contained in the tablets.

Country head of Extramarks, Tanay Kumar, says so far the technology is available in 7 000 schools, from grades R to 12. He said it is aligned to the CAPS (Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements) curriculum and has been developed to empower teachers in the classroom. It is informative and interactive and this makes learning, he says, more engaging for today’s technologically attuned learners.

Embrace technology

Moloko Matsapola, under whose helm the school consistently performed among the top 10 in the country, is equally optimistic. “Change is inevitable; we cannot avoid or resist it. The only thing we can do is to embrace it as teachers. Today’s learners get easily bored by conventional methods of teaching. But give them any digital gadget, and they suddenly become animated.”

He says this is an opportunity for the learners “in this part of the world” to catch up with their peers “in the urban areas and other parts of the world”. Importantly, he says, the initiative spares teachers the drudgery of having to keep inventories of books that learners sometimes return and sometimes lose.

Teachers excited

Physical sciences and maths teachers, Jameson Chikande and Nathaniel Masetla, also welcom the project. “With this technology I can cover more content with less time. It also motivates and keeps learners engaged during lessons,” says Chikande. Adds Masetla: “Marking of class or homework is also easy. It trains learners in time management and their participation is always high, while absenteeism is noticeably very low.”

Bobby Raphahlele, from the provincial education’s e-learning directorate, echoes the teachers’ sentiments. “It will enable the school to compete with other top-performing schools in the province. Teachers are able to finish the syllabus within a very short space of time and this gives them enough time to do revision. I also like the animations and virtual laboratories where learners can do experiments using three-dimensional apparatus.”

Judging by Ramalatsi’s exuberance and the twinkle in his eyes, his dreams of excelling in his matric exams looks certain, come end of next year!

Sidebar

Extramarks boasts the following eight features:

  • Smart learn content — curriculum aligned digital learning content developed by subject matter experts, with learner-focused teaching methodology;
  • Classroom tablet solution — an innovative tool that transforms conventional classrooms into more functional and collaborative spaces, where both learners and teacher can interact in real time;
  • Smart learn class — this transforms ordinary classrooms into futuristic and digitised learning environments;
  • Assessment centre — this is a platform that facilitates and automates a whole range of assessment activities for a school. For instance, teachers can create and publish their own customised assessment papers, invigilate, mark tests and manage results;
  • School management system — this platform is not only user-friendly, it also brings efficiency and effective standardisation into school operations, saves time, reduces paper trails and enhances communication among all key players at school;
  • Smart study pack or tab — this is a platform that can be used or accessed anytime and anywhere, from home or classroom. It maintains the continuity of learning;
  • Smart study app — mobile phone based, this app covers the syllabus from grade R-12. Learners can study at their own pace and in their own space. It is anchored in three learning requirements: learn, practice and test; and
  • Career assessment programme — a psychometric-based test specifically for grades 9 to 12 to help identify strengths by assessing personality, aptitude and career preference. This helps learners to make informed choices about suitable career paths.

For more information, vist: www.extramarks.co.za or email: info@extramarks.co.za.

 

4 Comments

  1. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

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