Submitted by Janet Thomson CEO of SchoolNet
Tudor Clee from New Zealand returned to South Africa this week - bearing tablets!
SchoolNetters will remember in July we reported about the development of a digital world atlas application for tablets that would allow children from around the world to teach each other about their own countries. You can read the blogpost here. SchoolNet had become involved through Ed Gragert of IEARN (International Education and Resource Network). Now, the developer, Tudor Clee has made another flying visit to South Africa; this time to donate 10 Google Nexus tablets to each of the schools that took part in the creation of videos for the world atlas app.
Touchable Earth is an application for tablets that provides engaging, hands-on information for children in countries across the world. The project has captured children in their authentic environments showcasing indigenous culture, schooling, friends and every day facts about their country. Now it was time to test the app and find out whether it really is as easy and as engaging as everyone had hoped.
Delivery to Lakeview Full Service Primary – Soweto
When the antenna was finally installed a download speed of 5 mbs was achieved. This is a phenomenally good speed and Tudor remarked that this is what he gets in New Zealand. Ms Elizabeth Shiburi, Deputy Chief Education Specialist in the E-Learning Unit of the Johannesburg Central District was on hand to receive Tudor and expressed her gratitude for connecting Lakeview to the world.
Delivery to Isibongo Primary School in Mpophomeni
Mrs Ndlovu, principal of Isibongo welcomed Tudor warmly to the school and was the first person to eagerly use the tablet, soon followed by other teachers and ably assisted by Hlengiwe Mfeka from SchoolNet SA. Mrs Nldovu expressed her gratitude on behalf of the school and the Department for the generous donation of tablets from Tudor. She promised to make every effort to ensure full use of the potential for these new devices.
As Tudor spent time with the handyman erecting the antenna outside, those children who had taken part in the filming for the South African part of the project, were called into the principal’s office to see themselves on video for the first time and to see how other children around the world would see them.
|Nandipha seeing herself for the |
first time on Video
Gradually more and more children squeezed into the principal’s office to crowd around the tablets. There was delight combined with a little self-conscious embarrassment when children first saw themselves on video but before long they were hooked on exploring the lives of other children from around the world. They also had considerable interest in the footage of children from other parts of South Africa and were soon trying to replicate the dancing and the singing that they saw in the videos. Four girls quickly leant a song with actions about a butterfly that they watched being sung by a grade 4 learner from Nepal.
The learners occupied the principal’s office for hours and hours; some of the boys were eventually lying on the floor to carry on watching, listening and reading, simply because they were too tired to stand or sit in the same position any longer. At four in the afternoon the tired bodies were sent home after reluctantly handing back the tablets. The learners said they could not wait to get back to school next year!
Here is a YouTube video that Tudor uploaded to the Touchable Earth Facebook page.Tudor says, "This is Isibongo Primary School in Mpophomeni township South Africa. Touchable Earth with great assistance from SchoolNet South Africa and iEarn.org have just donated 10 Google Nexus tablets with Touchable Earth preloaded. The kids are seeing themselves in the videos as we made the program here. We are installing 3G Internet prepaid for a year."
Further uses in the classroom
SchoolNet's tablet course for educators has been developed
SchoolNet SA has recently developed a comprehensive course for teachers to help them use tablets in the curriculum and in their professional lives generally. The course takes teachers on a learning journey through the use of a tablet as an e-reader, a planning tool, a writing tool, a creator of content (using the camera and the recorder) as a communication tool, for research and assessment as well as an educational content provider. SchoolNet will be sourcing digital content and e-text books as well as allowing the teachers to join the SchoolNet Premium Membership programme that provides resources and peer support for teachers using technology in their teaching.
The potential of the tablets to revolutionise learning is well-documented in first world countries but the Touchable Earth initiative has given children in some of the poorest areas of South Africa the chance to participate in this digital revolution.
Touchable Earth… moving forward
Visit these Facebook pages http://www.facebook.com/touchableearth and http://www.facebook.com/schoolnetsa as well as SchoolNet’s website www.schoolnet.org.za
You can link from here to more information about Touchable Earth