Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Nog antwoorde

Vir dié van u wat dalk gewonder het oor die motivering agter sommige van ons besluite rakende die infasering van e-leer:

Worcester Gimnasium se infaseringsmetode is in baie opsigte uniek. In die Wes-Kaap is ons een van die eerste nie-privaatskole wat die gebruik van e-toestelle begin infaseer. Met ons beplanning het ons te staan gekom voor 'n paar harde werklikhede:

  • 'n Groot deel van ons ouergemeenskap is glad nie welgesteld nie en gaan sukkel om geskikte toestelle te bekostig. Ons kan ook nie toelaat dat daar op grond van finansiële omstandighede teen leerders gediskrimineer word nie.
  • Ons ouers is nie daaraan gewoond om vir skoolhandboeke te betaal nie. Baie kry ook volgens die amptelike departementele glyskale afslag op skoolgelde.
As gevolg hiervan moes ons 'n unieke strategie bedink om wel die voordeel van e-handboeke te begin gebruik:
  1. Deelname is aanvanklik vrywillig. Ons glo dat genoeg ouers die voordeel van die tegnologie sal insien om die infasering die moeite werd te maak vir die skool. Terselfdertyd mag ons nie dié leerders wie se ouers dit nie kan bekostig nie, benadeel nie. Daarom gaan ons voorlopig voort met die voorsiening van gewone handboeke aan die leerders wat dit so verkies. (Ons sal waarskynlik ook nie voor Februarie klaar wees met die tegniese en administratiewe voorbereidings nie, daarom gaan alle leerders aanvanklik uitgereik word met gewone handboeke.)
  2. Ons het besluit om 'n BYOD- (bring your own device) benadering te volg. As gevolg van die ekonomiese omgewing waarin ons moet werk, kan ons ongelukkig nie op een tipe toestel standardiseer nie. Dit sou dinge beslis makliker gemaak het, maar is onprakties in ons omstandighede. Ons glo ook dat dit in 'n hoërskool nie die onderwyser se taak is om die leerders met hulle toestelle te help nie. Die leerders moet self verantwoordelikheid aanvaar vir hulle toestelle en moet leer om dit te gebruik. (Hulle gaan in elk geval baie makliker daarby aanpas as die onderwysers!) Om die infasering makliker te maak, gaan alle betrokkenes basiese opleiding ontvang oor hoe om met die programme te werk en daar sal ondersteuning beskikbaar wees vir dié wat dit nodig het.
  3. Ons het, na deeglike oorweging, besluit om al die grade dadelik te betrek en om nie per graad in te faseer nie. Ons voel nie dat hierdie 'n rewolusionêre verandering aan onderwys is nie, bloot net nog 'n stap vorentoe met nuwe hulpmiddels, en ons wou nie die geleentheid vir sekere grade ontneem nie. Ons infasering is dus nie per graad nie, maar volgens vrywillige deelname. (Met ons benadering kry ons ook dadelik al ons onderwysers betrokke, iets wat andersins dalk meer tyd sou neem!)
Ons glo dat hierdie oorskakeling vir die leerders maklik en natuurlik gaan kom. Hulle word groot met selfone en die tablette werk eintlik maar net soos selfone, met moontlik 'n nuwe app of twee om aan gewoond te raak. 

Wat die onderwysers aanbetref, weet ons ook dat party makliker by die nuwe tegnologie gaan aanpas, terwyl ander langer gaan neem om dit optimaal te gebruik. Gelukkig is al ons onderwysers reeds gemaklik met rekenaars en dataprojektors en is hulle opgewonde oor die nuwe hulpmiddels wat nou tot hulle beskikking is.

Ons weet dat ons 'n paar unieke besluite moes neem, maar ons glo dat die roete wat ons gaan volg, die beste is vir ons skool en al ons leerders!

Who to buy from

During the presentation to our parents, Techbook presented some of their products, including some suitable tablets. We believe that they are trustworthy, they have a lot of experience dealing with schools and we know they have good deals, some of which include added extras like protective covers and power packs (battery banks). An added advantage is their support scheme. Please go to their website (follow the link above) for more details.

At the same time, we have to stress that it has always been our policy to support local businesses as far as possible.

Quite a few of the local businesses have approached us with special deals and some of these provided advertisements that were distributed with the reports at the end of the year. Please approach your favourite computer shop and hear what they have to offer!

The following could be used as a little checklist while you make you decision:

  • Does the device offered have the basic minimum specifications? (See the previous post or the booklet that can be downloaded.)
  • What kind of warranty is included?
  • What kind of support can I expect? 
  • How soon will this supplier be able to help me if the device should break?
Good luck with your decision!

When to buy tablets

As you may have seen in the previous post, we hope to have everything ready for the learners to start on 1 February. This means that learners do not have to have the tablets (or laptops) ready on the first day of school (13 January), but we would advise parents to start doing some serious investigation into what to buy and to make sure that the tablet / device is available within the first week or so.

Also be warned that there will probably be quite a rush at the suppliers, so please buy earlier rather than later!

Some updates

For those of you who are just as excited about the e-learning project as we are and want to know how things are progressing, a few updates:

During the school holidays so far, the technicians from BNIT have made good progress with the installation of the cables and other infrastructure elements that are needed. They are currently on holiday but will start working again on 4 January.

The teachers will have their most important training sessions on 11 and 12 January.

At this stage it is difficult to say exactly when everything will be up and running for the learners, but we aim for 1 February.

Thank you to those readers who have posted some questions. I apologize for the delay in answering, but it's still holiday...;) The following posts should provide some useful answers.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Work on Wifi network started

Good news for all of us who are so exited about the new developments: The technicians from BNIT, our networking providers, have started with the installation of our Wifi network.

This is a huge undertaking which will involve the provision of more than 30 wireless access points, switches, cabinets and probably kilometres of cables. They will be working through most of the school holiday and hope to finish early in January!

We wish them well!

Monday, 30 November 2015

Mobile viewer?

Good news to all lovers of mobile communication: This blog will be viewed in a mobile compatible format if you use your smartphone to catch up with the latest developments!

The easiest way to see this on your mobile device is simply to type "e-wg.blogspot" (without the quotation marks!) into you browser, and there it is!

The only drawback is that the links and other information in the sidebars are not available in the mobile version, so you may have to revert to the big old box occasionally!

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Devices

The school will follow a BYOD (bring your own device) policy, which means that learners will be able to bring any device that answers to the basic criteria. The following devices (with minimum specifications) will be allowed:

  • Android: Android 4.4 or 5 (KitKat or Lollipop), Quad core CPU at 1.2 GHz, 16 GB internal storage space, 1 GB RAM, 6 hour battery life;
  • Apple: iPad 3 and up, iPad Mini or iPad Air;
  • Windows: Tablet or laptop or hybrid device with Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, with at least 16 GB internal storage.

Devices should not have screens smaller than 7”, measured diagonally across the screen.  A screen size of 10” is recommended. The use of protective covers and suitable bags is also recommended.