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How Wi-Fi boosts education

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Technology and Wi-Fi access are a prerequisite for a 21st century education system and many schools across Africa are embracing devices like tablets and eBooks, says BRUCE PITSO, regional manager for South Africa at Ruckus Wireless.

The importance of using technology and Wi-Fi as an enabler and tool to help overcome educational challenges in developing countries cannot be overlooked, say industry experts.

Bruce Pitso, regional manager for South Africa at Ruckus Wireless, says Africa is well-positioned to take advantage of improved connectivity in a continuously evolving digital landscape. “Internationally technology and Wi-Fi access has become a prerequisite for a 21st century education system and over the past 12 months, we have seen many schools and education departments locally embracing tablets, eBooks, and internet access to provide students with a richer learning experience. The growth in tablet adoption is not only restricted to private schools but happening in public schools in cities and rural areas alike.”

An example of this is how MSC Business College is moving away from a traditional classroom model and utilising a blended approach that gives students the best of both worlds. From the beginning of this year, every student registering for full-time courses received a new tablet.

“These tablets have been loaded with an electronic learning platform that supplements what is being done in the classroom. With 19 campuses across South Africa, this forms part of an ongoing drive to equip our students with the best education delivery method possible,” says Anthony Gewer, Divisional Head of MSC Enterprise Solutions.

But he is quick to point out that tablets will not substitute face-to-face learning, in fact, the idea is to encourage self-study. Students will have access to the curriculum on their tablets to go through it before they come to class. This enables the lecturer and students to spend more time on concepts that may be confusing or that they may need further elaboration on – offering an integrated learning system.

“Using technology should always be complimentary to what is happening at a college or school. There still needs to be real-world engagement with tablets and internet connectivity enhancing that,” he says.

Ruckus agrees that it should never be just about the technology, but instead what it enables the school to do with it. “In our experience, embracing tools such as tablets and Internet access at schools mean learners not only benefit from increased access to quality information, but helps teachers utilise multimedia to illustrate difficult concepts that might not otherwise be understood,” says Pitso.

Technology also encourages further teacher/parent engagement, where parents can email teachers and get responses within a much quicker timeframe instead of waiting for a parent’s evening which occurs on a quarterly basis on average.

Recent World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness results show that South Africa has moved up from its initial position due to our ICT capabilities. And as ICT permeates further into sectors we are likely to see competitiveness from an infrastructure perspective increase further. This is proof that technology in the schooling system is certainly beneficial, but requires further collective industry efforts and cannot be left to schools and parents to drive.

Internationally, Wi-Fi is predicted to reach 99% of all campuses by 2016 where IT resources and access is very high on the list of differentiations between schools and campuses. In fact, according to a college student poll – 75% of students said that Wi-Fi access helps them to get better grades and 44% use Wi-Fi to get a head start on assignments before a class ends.

Using a Wi-Fi network at a school provides the additional benefit of the teachers being able to control what sites the learners have access to and what can be downloaded on their tablets. This mitigates any concerns by parents that illicit content could be viewed or that learners will have to be responsible for their own 3G connectivity to be part of the new learning experience.

“Many schools actually recommend that parents do not get tablets with 3G capabilities or request those SIMs to be removed before the learner comes to school. They are better able to manage the educational experience from their own Wi-Fi network and avoid any potential data bill shocks that some parents are concerned about,” adds Pitso.

The classroom of the future is arriving sooner than many are expecting in South Africa and the rest of the continent. But, Pitso believes, if technology and connectivity are adopted in responsible ways the benefits outweigh any concerns that there might be.

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As selfie cameras rise, so must selfie etiquette

Selfies were once a sign of narcissism or self-obsession. Now they are the new normal, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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You can blame Oxford Dictionaries for making the “selfie” respectable. After all, being named Word of the Year, as it was in 2013, does tend to soften some of the self-consciousness in this most self-conscious of actions.

Once seen as a symbol of narcissism and self-obsession, it is now the new normal, to the extent that most smartphones are sold on the basis of the front camera. Or, as that feature is now almost universally named by manufacturers, the “selfie camera”.

I was one of the hold-outs, having a near-allergy to the selfie. I still resist, but succumb more often than I would like. The reason for continued resistance is that it remains a big leap from the word becoming respectable to the action itself shedding its narcissistic image. 

For most, it’s already happened, and for that you can blame Ellen DeGeneres. She  choreographed the most famous group selfie yet at the 2014 Oscars, when she roped a bunch of actors into a group selfie, using the then-new Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone. Her tweet of the photo became what was then the most retweeted posting ever on Twitter, and was estimated to have been worth a million dollars in marketing value to Samsung.

Ironically, it was Samsung’s up-and-coming challenger, Huawei, that came up with a new word for this type of selfie: the “groufie”. Thanks to an 8 Megapixel front camera on the new Huawei Ascend P7 camera that year which took the highest quality selfies – and groufies – possible on a smartphone at the time.

It didn’t end there, and selfies and groufies have morphed into variations like selfscapes (selfie in a landscape), skyfies (selfies from the air, using remote controlled devices) and jerkies (selfies to make an idiot out of yourself). I invented all of those on the fly, so it’s easy to imagine a new word emerging for every type of selfie.

Continue reading about selfie improvements through the years.

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Mickey’s 90th for SA

Disney Africa announced the local launch of the Mickey the True Original campaign, joining the global festivities honouring 9 decades of Mickey Mouse, his heritage, personality and status as a pop-culture icon.

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As 18 November 2018 marks 90 years since his first appearance in Steamboat Willie in November 1928, a series of world-wide celebrations will be taking place this year and South Africa is no different.

The campaign will come to life with engaging content and events that embrace Mickey’s impact on the past, present and future. The local festivities kick off in earnest this month, leading up to Mickey’s 90th anniversary on 18 November 2018 and beyond:

  • An exclusive local design project where ten highly talented South African artists will apply their own inspiration and artistic interpretation on 6-foot Mickey Mouse statues.
  • Once revealed to the public, the statues will form part of the Mickey the True Original South African Exhibition, inspired by Mickey’s status as a ‘true original’ and his global impact on popular culture. The exhibition will travel to 3 cities and delight fans and families alike as they journey with Mickey over the years. Featuring 4 sections highlighting Mickey’s innovation, his evolution, influence on fashion and also pop culture, the exhibition is in collaboration with Samsung and Edgars, and will visit:

o   Sandton City, Centre Court: 28 September – 14 October

o   Gateway Theatre of Shopping, Expo Explore Court: 19 October – 11 November

o   Canal Walk Shopping Centre. Centre Court: 16 November – 26 November

  • Samsung continues their collaboration with Disney as they honour Mickey’s 90th anniversary nationally at all Samsung and Edgars Stores. Entitled Unlocking the Imagination, fans are encouraged to visit these stores, take a selfie with a giant Mickey plush toy using their Samsung Galaxy Note9 and stand a chance to win not only a giant Mickey plush, but also an international family trip. Visit www.Samsung.com for more information
  • Mickey’s 90th Spectacular, a two-hour prime-time special, will be screened on M-Net 101 later this year. The elegant affair will feature star-studded musical performances, moving tributes and never-before-seen short films. Superstars from music, film and television will join the birthday fun for the internationally beloved character.
  • In addition, look out for special programming on Mickey’s birthday (18 November) across Disney Channel (DStv, Channel 303), Disney XD (DStv, Channel 304) and Disney Junior (DStv, Channel 309).
  • In retailers, Edgars will be stocking a complete collection of trendy fashion, accessories and footwear for the whole family, inspired entirely by Mickey Mouse.
  • Mickey will be the central theme of an in-store campaign nationwide this November and December, with brand new products, apparel, toys, as well as titles from Disney Publishing Worldwide, including books, arts & crafts and comics
  • Discovery Vitality and Disney are celebrating healthy, happy families this festive season by offering helpful and exciting tips and tricks on how to eat nutritious, yet delicious, foods, all inspired by Mickey. There’s also a trip to Disneyland Paris up for grabs. Log on to www.discovery.co.za/vitality for information.
  • And much more – check the press for updates

“Binding generations together more than any other animated character, Mickey Mouse is the “True Original” who reminds people of all ages of the benefits of laughter, optimism and hope,” says Christine Service, Senior Vice President and Country Manager of The Walt Disney Company Africa. “With his universal appeal and ability to emotionally connect with generations all over the world, no other character quite occupies a similar space in the hearts and minds of a global fan base and we are thrilled to be sharing these local festivities.”

Mickey’s birthday is celebrated in honour of the release of his first theatrical film, Steamboat Willie, on 18th November 1928, at the Colony Theatre in New York City. Since then, he has starred in more than 100 cartoons and can currently be seen on Disney Channel (DStv, Channel 303) in the Mickey Mouse cartoon series and on Disney Junior (DStv, Channel 309) in Mickey and the Roadster Racers.

South African fans are encouraged to share their Mickey Mouse moments on social media using the hashtag#Mickey90Africa.

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