An innovative e-learning solution that addresses many of the challenges which have negatively affected the successful adoption of e-learning in South African schools – including preventing learners from being distracted during class – has been launched by Itec Communications, a division of the Itec Group.
A pilot of the Unite:ED solution, has already been rolled out in two Gauteng schools. Initial indications are that the learners’ marks improved significantly in the subjects covered.
According to Itec Communications operations director, Rolf Schurink, Unite:ED was developed in South Africa in partnership with a range of local and international education platform specialists.
“Unite:ED benefits every member of the school community – learners, educators and parents – as well as the school itself,” he says.
Utilisation of the Unite:ED solution within a school requires a stable, robust wifi environment which can be provided and supported by Itec Communications; tablets for each learner; and broadband Internet access. In addition, educators require laptop computers on which they can prepare lessons for delivery in the classroom.
Full training and innovative tools are provided to educators to assist them in easily preparing their own lessons using the Unite:ED platform. Once a lesson has been saved in the system, it can be reused making future preparation of lessons a breeze.
“One of the greatest advantages of the Unite:ED solution is that the learners’ tablets are automatically locked into what they are supposed to be doing at the time they are supposed to be doing it, from the moment they enter the school environment.
“There’s no browsing the Internet, messaging friends – or even catching up on yesterday’s maths homework during the English class. Once the lesson starts, learners can access only what the educator in front of them wants them to access,” he explains.
Smart features like a ‘virtual hand raising’ function enable a learner to request the educator’s attention without disrupting the lesson; learners can also send an e-message to their educator to request assistance if, for example, they need help while doing homework after school hours.
Educators can take control of an individual learner’s tablet from their laptop, and make corrections to or comments on the learner’s work. In addition, an instant test facility at the end of each lesson – which is marked automatically – enables the educator to quickly evaluate learners’ understanding of the lesson content and identify those requiring additional attention.
Another benefit for educators is that Unite:ED automatically takes on routine administrative tasks such as managing attendance registers and updating learner’s progress records. A built-in learner management system enables the automation of most school administrative tasks with school records from marks to medical history for each learner.
Parents also benefit from the solution by obtaining access to calendars, confirmation of school attendance, and reminders; as well as insight into their child’s academic activities and performance. They also have access to a closed, secure social media platform for all school communication.