Projects involving the implementation of ICT’s in South African schools must be based on sound educational goals. This framework is therefore grounded in the core curriculum goals of the Curriculum Framework for General Education and Training. As such it recognises that Critical Outcomes are intended to direct the thinking of policy makers, curriculum designers, facilitators of learning as well as the learners themselves. SchoolNet creates learning communities of teachers and learners that use ICT’s in Education . It is therefore important that this framework supports the application of these Critical Outcomes wherever it is relevant to do so. Course outcomes and applied competencies should make specific reference to these where applicable.
The Critical Outcomes adopted by SAQA are as follows:
- Identify and solve problems in which responses display that responsible decisions using critical and creative thinking have been made;
- Work effectively with others as a member of a team, group, organisation, community;
- Organise and manage oneself and one’s activities responsibly and effectively;
- Collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information;
- Communicate effectively using visual, mathematical and/or language skills in the modes of oral and/or written presentation;
- Use science and technology effectively and critically, showing responsibility towards the environment and health of others;
- Demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation.
In order to contribute to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of the society at large, it must be the intention underlying any programme of learning to make an individual aware of the importance of:
- Reflecting on and exploring a variety of strategies to learn more effectively;
- Participating as responsible citizens in the life of local, national and global communities;
- Being culturally and aesthetically sensitive across a range of social contexts;
- Exploring education and career opportunities, and
- Developing entrepreneurial opportunities. 65
This framework recognises the principles that underpin the objectives for the NQF . Key principles of particular relevance are:
- integration – form part of a system of human resources development which provides for the establishment of a unifying approach to education and training
- relevance – be and remain responsive to national development needs
- credibility – have national and international value and acceptance
- coherence – work within a consistent framework of principles and certification
- flexibility – allow for multiple pathways to the same learning ends
- standards – be expressed in terms of a nationally agreed framework and internationally acceptable outcomes
- access – provide ease of entry to appropriate levels of education and training for all prospective learners in a manner which facilitates progression
- recognition of prior learning – through assessment, give credit to learning which has already been acquired in different ways, e.g. through life experience
- guidance of learners – provide for the counselling of learners by specially trained individuals who meet nationally recognised standards for educators and trainers. 63
The purpose of the educator development strategy should embrace principles of open learning. In its educator development programmes SchoolNet should endeavour to keep learning open. This excludes programmed media such as texts, broadcasts, audio- and video-cassettes and computer-based instruction where communication is one way. These programmes must include
a) Some form of collaborative interaction between learners, and
b) Some form of mediation, mentorship or support between learners and their facilitator(s).
Open learning is ” an approach which combines the principles of learner-centredness, lifelong learning, flexibility of learning provision, the removal of barriers to access learning, the recognition of prior learning experience, the provision of learner support, the construction of learning programmes in expectation that learners can succeed, and the maintenance of rigorous quality assurance over the design of learning materials, and support systems “. 45
The Norms and Standards for Educators 7 , as part of the National Education Policy Act, 1996, has been taken into account and the following aspects are noted:
- The seven roles of the educator. At face value educator development for ICT would appear to fall into the category of “Scholar, researcher and lifelong learner”. However, this involves far more than mere ICT skills training. SchoolNet’s mission is to create learning communities of teachers and learners that use ICTs in Education . This implies that SchoolNet’s intervention with teachers in the field of ICT involves all seven educator roles. It is intended that ICT should be the catalyst, if necessary, for educational reform in the classroom. In the long term it will mean that ICT should be a tool that educators could use to fulfil these roles. The use of ICT as a tool has curriculum implications for the educators’ roles as mediator, administrator, assessor and learning area/subject/discipline/phase specialist. Direct reference is made to information technology six times in the associated competencies, specifically those associated with the roles of learning mediator, interpreter and designer of learning programmes and materials, and scholar, researcher and lifelong learner. The assumption that basic IT proficiency is regarded as a norm is significant. More significantly, indirect reference to competencies that would be complemented by the use of ICT as a tool form the basis of most of the roles and associated competencies.
The concept of “openness” of the learning approach is well suited to the strengths of information and communication technology viz. access to information and efficient communication systems. Once these competencies become the norm in educators’ daily proceedings, their use of ICT will become more integrated and innovative.
- Standards for the design and delivery of educator development programmes. The standards provide important strategic objectives and the following specific standards need to be addressed in SchoolNet educator development programmes:
a) it must be “in line with national and/or local needs”. This implies that projects and their associated educator development should be more needs-driven than supply-driven.
b) “Access is promoted and learner support is provided”. This should be considered together with standards referring to the need for programmes to be “offered in modes that allow practising educators to attend” and the need for learning materials to be “developed and used to create spatial flexibility in courses” 7 . Attention needs to be paid to both the flexibility of learning and of delivery in SchoolNet’s educator development strategy.
Ultimately, SchoolNet’s programmes should use technology, where appropriate, to enhance learning so that this learning may be:
- collaborative and co-operative
- underpinned by essential outcomes
It should encourage
- independent learning
- personal autonomy
- critical thinking
- the construction of knowledge in terms of information, concepts, skills, attitudes and values
- problem-solving, decision-making and evaluation skills
- whole-brain learning, celebrating a diversity of learning styles
- the uncovering of content construction and not merely the covering of content.