Focus on technology: Education’s future in spotlight
Technology needs to be coupled with an adapted curriculum, political will and trained teachers, say panelists at Decolonised 21st Century Education Conference
The introduction of technology into education was not a silver bullet for improving education outcomes and the 19th-century style of teaching and learning needs to be adapted as technology is gradually incorporated into South African classrooms.
This was the message coming out of the Decolonised 21st Century Education Conference in Johannesburg on Friday.
Panelists said technology needed to be coupled with an adapted curriculum, political will and trained teachers to facilitate learning that solved local problems.
The Gauteng department of basic education has launched an initiative to build smart schools that incorporate the latest technology in their infrastructure. This involves the introduction of computers, science equipment, renewable energy and upgraded sports facilities.
World Wide Worx founder Arthur Goldstuck said the current curriculum did not support an environment for pupils to immerse themselves in new technology. Teachers still hold a monopoly over knowledge and students are expected to absorb and regurgitate it back.
"The curriculum needs to change completely to be geared for technology to be incorporated," he said.
Immersive Minds director Stephen Reid warned that technology would not solve all human problems, and required a blend of human creativity. He said small bite-sized technologies were a good place for teachers to start engaging with so that they were comfortable using technology with students.
"We must leverage existing technologies," Reid said in relation to the lack of infrastructure and funds available to most public schools on the continent.
Brian Armstrong, professor in the chair of digital business at Wits Business School, said the world in which children were being educated to thrive was changing and education was at high risk of being disrupted by technology in the future.
"Education is ripe for disruption," he said, adding personalised products that intersected technology with human needs were transforming society and ways of conducting business.
Industry-convergent players were well positioned to get the most out of the digital revolution, he said, citing companies such as Amazon and Uber that had the biggest growth in the past 10 years compared with traditional and exponential industries.