EDN Approach to Learning

EDN Approach to Learning

EDN Approach to Learning

The Educators’ Network combines CD-based resources, e-mail mentor and peer support, and an online educational portal to provide a thorough, rigorous learning experience for educators.

Introductory training

SchoolNet trainers conduct two-day on site introductory training sessions for educators using the school’s computer facilities. More than 100 trainers have been trained around the country for this intervention. They conduct follow up visits to schools as well as refresher courses when required.

The purpose of this training is for educators to

  • become familiar with the approach and the tools required for participation in a module
    • using the CD
    • using the e-diary
    • using the e-mail links to the group and mentor in the materials
    • discussing issues online with a group
    • attaching documents to e-mail
    • time management required
  • select the modules that they will be studying online

During the introductory training, educators register for a module of their own choice, depending on their personal needs and interests. They choose from a wide range of modules ranging from basic word processing for educators to planning and leadership for educational ICT in the school.

Allocation to groups

Immediately after the introductory course the educators are allocated to groups of no larger than 20 educators who have chosen the same module. The group is allocated an identity and a mentor by our mentor coordinator. The educators then proceed with the module, introducing themselves and starting the first activity.

Working in groups

A module takes either 6 or 12 weeks to complete, depending on the nature of the module. Educators work at their own pace, but are encouraged to work according to weekly milestones in order to extract maximum benefit from group online discussions. Some activities ask the educators to submit ideas, feedback or documents to the group or to the mentor. The sharing of documents, ideas and challenges is an important part of the learning process. Some activities require these ideas to be tried in the classroom and comparing experiences within the group often adds the most value to this process. Throughout the module, the group is encouraged to provide feedback and find answers. The mentor/tutor monitors the discussion and facilitates or mediates at the most strategic moment, if necessary. Read more about the process of starting a module.

Mentors / Tutors

Mentors (for non-accreidted courses) and tutors (for accreidted courses) undergo online training that simulates the same approach to learning. During the modules the mentors/tutors are in touch with each other and a mentor coordinator. This ensures the best quality of mentoring and support at all times. The role of the mentors is to support and encourage the educators to improve their skills when using ICT to enhance teaching and learning. The mentor is not a tutor and does not assess assignments, but does provide formative feedback to educators when they submit documents for comment. Tutors concentrate more on the informal formative assessment of work leading up to assignments in accredited modules. Read more about the mentors.


The model of learning is loosely based on Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle. The materials on the CD direct a process, suggest activities and provide some background supporting content where necessary. The CD also contains a large number of tip sheets for ICT skills. Educators are encouraged to find meaningful and useful contexts for ICT in their daily classroom teaching. Educators manage their own time and work in a self-paced way on the activities. Most educators work at school, either after school or during non-teaching time. Many activities require the educators to use ICT with students and to report to the online group on their experience. This stimulates group discussion and the sharing of ideas and concerns. This is what we refer to as a community of learners. Educators make use of active links within the materials that open the e-mail application and insert the group/mentor’s address and a subject line. The educator merely has to write the mail message and click on “Send”.

Educators are encouraged to complete an e-diary during the module. A template is provided for this. The comments that are invited are largely reflective and often involve educators analysing their learning and resolving to make changes in their practice. Read more about the e-diary .


SchoolNet SA has developed a database which tracks each aspect of the activities within the modules. All e-mail to the group or mentor is logged and archived. Messages are tagged so that the system actively logs the progress of each educator. Mentors verify this progress once they are satisfied that activity has been successfully attempted. On projects which involve installation and support of computers in the school under SchoolNet supervision, it is possible to track the status of each school’s connectivity and report on daily e-mail traffic, so that proactive action can be taken to ensure that all schools are connected and active in the training. Project managers and mentors have access to a wide range of information which makes their task of managing and facilitating successful participation easier.

Assessment and Accreditation

When reading about the modules you will have noticed that some modules are non accredited, while others are. Accreditation is offered in cooperation with the University of KwaZulu-Natal. See our ACE (ICT Integration) web site for module details.

Non-accredited modules contain activities that need to be completed before a certificate of completion is awarded by SchoolNet SA.

Accredited modules contain additonal assignments which are formally assessed. Assessment criteria are provided upon registration.

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