On the 10th of July, Kjetil from the VSA team held a lecture and practical session for students who participate in the part-time Bachelor of Education in Information and Communication Technology programme at Rhodes University. These students are full-time teachers who a few intensive weeks of the year are trained by Rhodes University’s Professional Development Centre. Through their programme the Centre aims to give the practising teachers a sound foundation in the use of ICT in an educational context, ultimately benefiting the learners of the teachers. The teachers in the programme come from all over the province of the Eastern Cape but particularly many hail from rural areas in the former Transkei where the knowledge and use of ICT in schools is still rudimentary.
Kjetil was invited to talk to the students to showcase awarenet as an e-learning platform which is practical and easy to use both in schools with and without internet access. In his lecture Kjetil started by going through the history of the VSA and explained that the awarenet platform was developed among other things as a response to underutilised computer labs. He then explained the advantages of using a “social learning platform” such as awarenet and how the different features of awarenet work.
At the end of his presentation he set the participants a task: They were to use awarenet to answer questions related to the South African school curriculum in a forum and later create a project about their topic on the awarenet platform.
With the help of Kjetil and awarenet volunteers Lukas and Chiara the students learned quickly. Soon they found out how to finish the task and asked a lot of practical questions about how to use awarenet at their schools. Can awarenet be installed at any school even if the school doesn’t have internet? Can teachers monitor what learners post at awarenet? Kjetil answered in the affirmative to both questions.
Many of the teachers ended the session with definite plans of introducing awarenet at their schools. Kjetil has also been invited to go the rural areas of the former Transkei later in the year to work more closely with the schools and the local branch of Department of Education there. We look forward to reconnect with an area which has long-standing roots to the VSA and the awarenet program.