As part of the 2018 National Teachers Awards, SchoolNet SA sponsored the three winning teachers in the ICT Enhanced Education category to attend an educational conference of their choice. All three winners chose to attend the inaugural event of the Innovation Leadership ICTs in Education conference which was held at St Dominic’s Priory in Port Elizabeth on 25 and 26 June 2018. Furthermore, as part of the Microsoft YouthSpark project, we sponsored an additional five teachers from under-resourced schools in the Eastern Cape to attend this conference in the hopes that they would be able to share some of the strategies they learnt to promote computer science to their learners.
The two day conference, hosted by the Young Engineers of South Africa, was attended by 26 teachers and eLearning specialists who share an interest in using digital tools to support education. Father Grant James, the Principal of St Dominic’s laid the foundation for the two day event which was packed with a broad range of topics.
One of the highlights was Prof Jean Greyling of NMU’s session which involved delegates downloading an app onto their smart phones to participate in tangible computing using jigsaw puzzle type blocks placed on a table top in the right sequence. Image recognition software then converted the images into code which was executed on their smart phones to direct the tank to reach its destination as part of a game.
The rest of the conference contextualised various software and hardware tools and focused on promoting creativity among learners. This included the use of open source software, and a range of other apps to encourage 21st century skills development. Dr Ron Beyers, the conference convener noted that “Stimulating creativity is an essential component on the road to true innovation with products being taken to the market. This will provide an essential theme for the next event where planning for 2019 has already begun.”
“Thanks must go to SchoolNet SA for their role in the conference especially in promoting the event amongst schools and for sponsoring delegates to the conference. This included three teachers who participated in the National Teachers Awards – ICT Enhanced Education category as well as educators from local schools. St Dominic’s provided an ideal venue for this event and thanks must go to Fr Grant James for his willingness and dedication to host this event”, said Beyers.