Monday, September 1, 2008

South Africa: Digital Divide Poses 'Biggest Challenge' -

Sue BlaineJohannesburg

EDUCATION's greatest challenge today is bridging the watershed between those born into a digital human race and those who were not, states Steven Naudé, mendelevium of Pearson Education.

Naudé said at the launch of the Pearson Online Media Centre at the University of the Rand yesterday research and experience showed traditional computer-based instruction was not very successful in dealing with the challenges of higher education in SA.

Many pupils were "digital natives" -- people who had never known a nondigital human race -- while most lectors were "digital immigrants", not born into the digital human race but fascinated by new engineering and willing to accommodate to using it.

Electronic acquisition -- where pupil and instructor usage online engineering to interact -- had failed because many lectors resorted to simply putting their social class short letters on a computing machine without reinterpreting them in any way; testing had been in multiple choice; there were high license fees for the software; and there was mediocre interaction between pupil and lecturer. All of this had led to low usage.

What was needed, and what the new mass media Centre offered, was computer-based learning that included frequent self-assessment for pupils to find where their strengths and failings lay, and work on the failings through the remedial "intervention" available.

Relevant Links

Lecturers could see the students' assessments, maintain records of strengths and weaknesses, and bring forth studies on all of this.

Students and academicians who used the mass media Centre would also be able to see the websites of assorted Pearson companies, such as as Penguin SA, Business Day, the Financial Mail, little concern magazine Big News and Acme television (all owned by BDFM, which is jointly owned by Pearson and Avusa), Financial and educational publishing house Maskew Glenn Glenn Miller Longman.

Fatima Dada, Maskew Miller Longman chairwoman, said the company was the biggest educational publishing house in the southern hemisphere, printing texts in 60 linguistic communications and for readers from preschool to graduate student level.

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