A digital learning initiative promises smart teaching and learning solutions
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.
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.
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!
Extramarks boasts the following eight features: