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Time to disrupt one-size-fits-all education

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Director at Top Dog Education, CLAUDIA SWARTZBERG, describes how it creates digital content that learners can study in their own time, and at their own pace.

We’re living in exciting times – there’s no doubt about that. Innovation and advancement are radically changing the way we live, work, and access information. So much so, in fact, that if you were to transport someone from just 50 years ago into our modern world, they’d have a hard time making sense of just about anything.

But one thing hasn’t changed in 50 years, or even 100, for that matter. Our one-size-fits-all, low-tech and pre-digital educational systems have stubbornly endured for far too long, contributing to an education crisis that is far from an exclusively South African problem. All recent research shows that learners have much to gain from digital learning and a more personalised approach to their educational development.

As a   young learner, I struggled academically in primary school myself, but was lucky enough to have a very patient father who would take it upon himself to tutor me and explain concepts in a way that made sense to me – in other words, he personalised my learning. This was a turning point that sparked my passion for academics and turned me into a top performer in my class. The only problem is that not every parent has the time or know-how to help their kids in the same way, and our teachers already have their hands full as it is.

Along with my brother, Ryan, we founded Top Dog Education with the dream of giving every South African learner easy and affordable access to the kind of learning personalisation that helped them thrive – and the internet was the natural choice to help them achieve their goal. With a team of programmers, educational psychologists and expert teachers, they set about creating engaging, affordable digital content that learners can study in their own time, and at their own pace, in order to supplement the material and concepts they are being taught in school.

But the real magic of Top Dog Education is more subtle than flashy tutorials and a slick website. The system differs from similar products in the market in its application of technology, with ingenious solutions so seamlessly built into the platform, that it’s as good as having a tutor right by your side. The underlying system for all Top Dog products is deep performance analysis of each individual. Based on this continual analysis, each student gets a personal improvement path to follow, which adapts and grows with the student over time.

Our program doesn’t just feed you material. As you work through it, it is actively tracking your unique strengths and weaknesses with deep analysis, getting to know your individual learning style, and creating an educational experience that is built just for you.

The result? An assisted learning tool that is perfectly aligned to current South African curricula, presented in such a way that students are more engaged by the materials than ever, and are motivated to reach goals and milestones they have set for themselves.

It was Albert Einstein who once famously said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Top Dog Education represents a giant leap forward in recognising that everybody requires a different approach in order to learn to their fullest potential, providing learners with the freedom and flexibility to achieve outstanding improvement in their own style, and at their own pace.

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TikTok looks for SA talent

The fast-rising short-video platform has launched a #PickMe campaign to discover local stars.

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TikTok, which claims to be the world’s leading destination for short-form videos, launches its first PickMe campaign, an effort to discover creative talents and provide a stage to express themselves in South Africa. Starting March 1, TikTok kicked off a month-long search through participants’ 15-second videos under hashtag #PickMe.

TikTok says it is committed to investing in South Africa and discovering the local talents. The PickMe campaign is supported by its local partners like Huawei, MTV Base and Digify Africa.

Local stars, including comedian and singer Lasizwe and singer Nadia Jaftha, have joined the campaign and called for users to show their talents on TikTok.

There are 5 categories of video shooting in the campaign, namely dance, acting, comedy, singing and cosmetics. Participants need to shoot a 15-second video using TikTok using #PickMe and tag @tiktok_africa to participate in the challenge. The finalists will be selected based on their video performance. The most popular and talented participants will have the chance to win prizes like Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphones, a day at MTV Base, and a once-off-presenter opportunity and attendance at an intensive video production workshop delivered by Digify Africa.

“TikTok has definitely evolved into something that everyone loves and uses. It’s given creators a space to create more unique content and also help the creator gain a whole new kind of fan base, ” says Preven Reddy, Imbewu The Seed TV-star and Megazone radio host who is also a TikTok user.

Says TikTok video creator Mihlali Nxanga: “As a young South African working towards being in the entertainment industry, TikTok has given me the platform to grow my following tremendously. Within 6 months, my fan base has grown by a whopping 90 000, and not only from South Africa, but the whole world. For me, TikTok is not just a content platform, it is a global community.”

The campaign will wrap up on March 31. The list of the finalist will be announced in the app and on official Instagram @tiktok_southafrica. For more information, please visit the TikTok app.

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Rugby fan experience transformed by digital platform

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The South African Rugby Federation has embraced digitalisation as a key enabler of its strategic aspirations. It has worked with Accenture to transform fan engagement for Springbok supporters with the launch of a digital fan platform.

“Digital technology and social media have transformed how modern fans watch, support and engage with their favourite teams,” says SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux. “To maintain our relevance amid this new market dynamic, and grow our fan base, we’ve acknowledged the vital need to digitally transform our organisation.”

Wayne Hull, managing director for Accenture Digital in Africa, says: “SA Rugby’s ambition to pivot to a more fan-centric strategy requires digital design, content, platforms and insights because modern consumers, including loyal Springbok supporters, engage predominantly via mobile digital channels and expect hyper-personalised experiences.”

Accenture Digital’s development process started with quantitative and qualitative research, which informed the user experience (UX) design guidelines and content strategy for the digital fan engagement platform.

“To know what fans want, we needed to understand the fans themselves,” says Hull. “The Accenture Digital team mined the research data and identified multiple fan ‘personas’, which all have different content consumption, platform functionality and engagement preferences.”

The platform development team focused on three critical elements to meet these requirements – the customer experience (CX), the engagement engine and cloud-based deployment.

“To deliver a memorable and engaging CX, Accenture Digital leveraged leading digital experience software,” says Hull. “The result is a fully integrated and responsive platform that creates seamless, personalised digital fan experiences across SA Rugby’s content, commerce and digital marketing initiatives in a manner that makes fans feel recognised and connected to the players and the game.”

The new platform will serve as the first point of call for any rugby fan who wants to get their data fix with exclusive statistics, analytics and insights. The platform’s content style will include more visual elements – videos and images – with more concise articles that are easier to digest, in accordance with evolving content consumption preferences on mobile screens. This will complement long-form thought leadership and insight pieces. 

In addition, fans will enjoy exclusive access to player-related content, such as behind-the-scenes footage and game and training performance stats. SA Rugby will also benefit from the ability to track comments and mentions via the Sitecore analytics platform Accenture Digital implemented, to respond and engage in the conversations Springbok fans are having on social media about the game, the teams or the players.

To do this, SA Rugby required a consolidated view of the customer. However, data resided in disparate sites across ticketing providers and SA Rugby’s e-commerce and online magazine databases. This information will be consolidated into the CRM system, with multiple integration points available to leverage this data.

The CRM system’s functionality will help to reveal insights such as fan communication preferences and their likes and dislikes, which will place hyper-relevance at the core of SA Rugby’s fan experience and engagement strategy.

 The final element in the platform development was cloud deployment, which allows fans to access the platform from any device that has an internet connection. The platform is hosted within the Microsoft Azure environment, which is stable, secure and fully redundant. It gives SA Rugby the flexibility to manage the platform themselves, with the option to integrate or scale additional functionality down the line.

Based on the outcome, Hull believes that Accenture Digital has successfully reimagined, built and delivered a world-class, modern and mobile-friendly digital fan platform that creates a fun, immersive and engaging experience for fans.

“It’s a major step towards helping SA Rugby realise its ambition to become a fan-centric, forward-looking and nimble organisation, and we look forward to building and developing the platform further with the team as their digital fan engagement requirements evolve,” says Hull

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