Increasingly, education in the Eastern Cape is becoming digitised thanks to a partnership between government and the private sector.
The Eastern Cape Department of Education and Vodacom have taken the digitisation of education in the province a step further with the launch of the ‘Virtual Teacher’ platform in East London recently.
The move follows the introduction of Vodacom’s Programme for Mobile Devices in the province earlier this year, to promote the use of digital technology in Eastern Cape schools.
Virtual Teacher is a new interactive technology platform which allows an individual teacher or lecturer to deliver lessons in real-time to multiple remote classrooms or locations at the same time.
Through a range of smart devices, learners can join classes from anywhere and at any time. For the first time in South Africa, the technology can be accessed through any personal device.
The department's Superintendent-General, Themba Kojana, said the department is promoting interactive virtual teaching and learning in the province, particularly in rural communities.
“Technology such as the Virtual Teacher platform allows teachers to interact with remote learners to increase their understanding of school subject material, with a goal to improve learning outcomes in the province.”
Portable hardware which delivers high quality visuals and sound, supports the platform. It can also accommodate unlimited viewer numbers. The technology enables live interaction with the remote audience through a texting question-and-answer facility for written responses during the lesson.
The Virtual Teacher platform includes a camera, microphone and streaming data unit, which can be streamed from any device.
Lessons can be pre-recorded if needed and recorded content can also be downloaded to any device. The platform is easy to use and can be linked to a school website.
To improve the matric pass rate in the province, the department will use the Virtual Teacher platform to provide extra classes to students in selected districts in the province.
Lessons will be delivered remotely by some of the country’s best teachers, with an emphasis on Mathematics, Science and Accounting.
Students from various locations will be transported to teaching sites in the Eastern Cape, including Mdantsane, Maluti, Lusikisiki and Mount Frere.