Virtual teachers’ project launched

Thousands of pupils dial in to WB Rubusana’s digital classroom initiative

THE Eastern Cape Department of Education in conjunction with Vodacom took a step further in the digitalisation of education in the province when they launched a virtual teacher project at WB Rubusana in Mdantsane under the East London education district offices this week.

VIRTUAL CLASSROOM: The provincial education department and Vodacom launched a virtual teacher programme in Mdantsane on Monday that could help improve the pass rates of underperforming schools. A preview of a virtual lesson was presented to more than 100 pupils, teachers and officials at the launch Picture: QHAMANI LINGANI

The move follows Vodacom’s programme for mobile devices introduced in the province earlier this year to promote the use of digital technology in Eastern Cape schools.

Students from various locations will be transported to teaching sites in the Eastern Cape, including Mdantsane, Maluti, Lusikisiki and Mount Frere.

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 simultaneously.

Eastern Cape Department of Education superintendent-general Themba Kojana said the department was promoting interactive virtual teaching and learning, 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,” Kojana said.

A Grade 12 student from Vulamazibuko High School, Zama Sivi, said they were excited about the journey they would be embarking on.

“Experienced people will be teaching us about maths, accounting and science. They will be here in Mdantsane in our schools, but learners from different parts of Eastern Cape will also benefit at the same time,” Sivi said.

Vodacom Business’s chief officer, Vuyani Jarana, said they were working with the provincial education department to address some of the challenges facing the education system, particularly in rural and underperforming schools.

“This is all about bringing innovative technology to those who need it most in order to improve learning outcomes for all education segments in our country. The future of the South African education system is digital and we must embrace the opportunities this offers to leapfrog infrastructural backlogs and legacy issues in our schools.”

The platform is supported through portable hardware which delivers high quality visuals and sound.

The technology enables live interaction with the remote audience through a texting Q&A facility for written responses during the lesson.

There is also a free App (application) where students are able to watch and listen to classes. Through a range of smart devices, pupils can join classes from anywhere and at any time. The Virtual Teacher platform encompasses a camera, microphone and streaming 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.



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