Long gone are the days when kids began their education with some crayons and paper. LIRON SEGEV takes a look at how children in the Netherlands are beginning their education using an iPad when enrolling in one of the thirteen Steve Jobs Schools.
Like most people, my schooling education began with a large box of Crayola colouring pens and paper. But if you live in the Netherlands, that is considered so ‚”old-school‚”, as today’s education begins with an iPad.
If you live in the Netherlands, then you have the opportunity to send your child to one of thirteen Steve Jobs Schools that don’t allow pen or paper at school as everything is conducted on the iPad.
The schools operate according to the principles of the O4NT foundation (Education for a New Era) where the program aims at promoting the child’s individual talents and developing skills for the new tech savvy world. These skills include information processing, collaboration and developing a critical, problem-solving and creative mind.
Each child is given an iPad and has access to the virtual school. When the kids are in the physical school building, the children will move around the various ‚’subject rooms’ according to their individual schedule (we used to call it a Timetable). For example the language room, maths room, creative lab, gym or technology lab. They also attend planned activities that they have pre-registered for. Using the iPad and the school software the children are also able to maintain their own portfolio, documenting their progress and achievements.
Parents can follow exactly what their child has been doing during the day via a separate app.
Even the notion of school hours is challenged and vacations will be very flexible once the O4NT method is completely implemented. Because the ‚’virtual school’ is available on an iPad all the time, parents are free to book their vacation at a convenient time and to determine what their child’s school hours will be. School and out-of-school care are seamlessly integrated.
There are also no traditional classroom levels such as Grade 1 and Grade 2. Only groups of children grouped by age. Kids aged 4 7 are in one group and kids aged 8 12 in another.
This technological approach has major impact on the role of the teacher. In the O4NT approach, teachers will no longer simply convey knowledge to a group of children: they will be transformed into coaches that support children with their individual and group projects. Because educational apps are used for basic skills, the learning process can be completely adapted to the individual child’s learning speed and style.
The Tools of the Teaching Trade
In order to this School to operate and achieve its goals, software apps have been developed by or in collaboration with O4NT:
sCoolSpace is a virtual schoolyard where children can meet each other and their coaches digitally. All children design their own avatar, made up from a photograph of their face and a number of special elements. A small circle below the avatar indicates whether or not they are physically present in the school building at that particular time. Students can communicate with each other via instant messaging or by video using Facetime or Skype. The kids can also display their creative work on the ‚’Wall of Fame’ which is used as an exhibition space for digital creations.
TikTik sCoolTool automatically keeps track of the student’s calendar so that teachers and parents can see what their children are doing at school. It automatically logs the student’s presence when they arrive at school with their tablet and will display their schedule. Children can also create their own activities such as presentations and invite others to attend. Students can then share their achievements with each other and with the teacher through their personal portfolio which contains the results of group projects. This means that photographs, videos, presentations and screen shots, as well as additional reports, are always available in the digital archives.
sCoolProjects is used to work on research projects and other assignments in small groups, supported by a coach.
iDesk Learning Tracker allows the teachers and parents (and publishers) to follow the results their children achieved using educational apps.
DigiTalenten will annually report on what the student’s digital life looks like and what IT skills children have mastered.
Symbaloo is used for sharing and distributing knowledge, within the school as well as between schools and O4NT.
By now some parents reading this are having heart-failure but when you see your 2 year old use your iPad way before they can read and write, you realise that today’s children are adapting to technology much faster than any generation before so surely the schooling system needs to be adapting too. If today’s kids are learning through technology then this method of learning plays right to their strength and will undoughtidly set them up for what the tech world has to throw at them.
Malcolm Gladwell refers to to 10 000 hours in his book the Tipping Point. This is the amount of hours that someone usually has if they excel in their chosen field. This type of schooling system that identifies and nurtures the individual child’s talents will surely contribute massively to the child’s 10 000 quota of excellence.
* Liron Segev is also known as The Techie Guy. You can read his blog athttp://www.thetechieguy.com or follow him on Twitter on @Liron_Segev
Triggerfish launches free digital learning Academy online
Platform designed for anyone wanting to understand more about career opportunities in animation.
Triggerfish, in partnership with Goethe-Institut and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, has launched Triggerfish Academy, a free digital learning platform for anyone wanting to understand more about the career opportunities and how to get started in the field of animation.
The website features 25 free video tutorials, quizzes and animation exercises introducing animation as a career and the principles of storytelling, storyboarding and animation, as well as several additional resources to help guide aspiring animators into a career in animation.
“The South African animation industry is growing – and so is the demand for skilled animators globally,” said Noemie Njangiru, head of Culture and Development at Goethe-Institut Johannesburg, pointing to the success of recent Triggerfish projects like the Oscar-nominated Revolting Rhymes; Mama K’s Team 4, recently announced by Netflix as their first original animated series from Africa; and this year’s New York Children’s Festival and Shanghai International Film and TV Festival winner Zog.
Njangiru also highlighted the opportunities for animation outside the traditional film industry, within fields like advertising, app and web design, architecture, engineering, gaming, industrial design, medicine, and the motor industry, not to mention growth sectors like augmented reality and virtual reality.
The course was created by Tim Argall, currently the animation director on Triggerfish’s third feature film, Seal Team. He’s roped in many of the South African animation industry’s brightest stars, from Malcolm Wope, character designer on Mama K’s Team 4, and Annike Pienaar, now working at Illumination in Paris on Sing 2, to Daniel Snaddon, co-director of the multi-award-winning BBC adaptations Stick Man and Zog, and Faghrie Coenraad, lead dressing and finaling artist on the Oscar-nominated Revolting Rhymes, as well as Triggerfish head of production Mike Buckland. The featured talent share not just their skills but also their stories, from how they broke the news they wanted to be animators to their parents, to common myths about the animation industry.
“As kids, animation is part of our lives, so we don’t really think about the idea that animation is actually somebody’s job,” said Argall. “When I was a kid, I loved animation and I loved to draw. I remember when I was about 12, I thought: ‘I really want to see my drawings come to life. I want to be an animator.’ But I had no idea where to even begin.”
Triggerfish Academy is his attempt to make it easier for the next generation of African animators: an accessible starter kit for anyone considering a career in animation.
“By the end of working through this course, you’ll have all the background you need to know whether animation is a good choice for your career,” said Njangiru.
Aspiring animators can also use Triggerfish Academyto learn how to write and animate their own short story, then post their animation on the Academy’s Facebook group for feedback and advice from professional animators.
Triggerfish Academy is set up so that youth can play with it directly, but it’s also been designed to double as an activity plan for teachers, NGOs and after school programmes to use. Schools, organisations and other animation studios who are interested in using it can contact Triggerfish for additional free classroom resources.
Triggerfish Academy is just one of a number of Triggerfish initiatives to train and diversify the next generation of African animators, like sponsoring bursaries to The Animation School; the Mama K’s Team 4 Writers Lab with Netflix; the pan-African Triggerfish Story Lab, supported by The Walt Disney Company and the Department of Trade and Industry; Animate Africa webinars; Draw For Life; and the Triggerfish Foundation schools outreach programme. For more information, visit www.triggerfish.com/academy.
Dell aims to unlock tech for start-ups
The upcoming Dell Technologies Forum in Johannesburg will show that cost and scale are no longer barriers for a mid-size businesses to adopt enterprise-grade tech
Today’s medium-sized companies enjoy reinvigorated access to business technology. The powerful systems that raised the game of enterprises are now also open to smaller, agile, start-up and niche businesses.
“When you look at medium and start-up businesses, those companies have very similar needs to a large company, but not necessarily the internal resources to always pull it off,” said Sabine Dedering, Regional Sales Director at Dell Technologies South Africa. “Dell Technologies worldwide has a lot of focus on the medium business. This includes South Africa, where we established a dedicated medium business team about a year ago.”
Medium-sized businesses – internationally defined as those typically between 100 and 1,000 IT users – do not necessarily have smaller IT footprints than their enterprise peers. Some manage large and complicated accounts or service enormous user-bases among their customers. In the big picture, they deal with the same complex market demands that the large players do, but until recently often had to make do with much less in access to technology due to constrained resources such as limited IT teams and budgets.
This balance shifted dramatically with the advent of cloud, scalable services and hyper-converged infrastructure. Yet despite the doors opening, the traditional gatekeepers – other vendors and their partners – still habitually focus on enterprise players. It undermines the new possibilities technology can offer to medium businesses, a world that often marchesto the beat of its own drums.
“These are not small customers,” said Dedering. “Sometimes they are market leaders in a specific niche. But they don’t have thousands of people. You get your traditional companies that may have a few hundred employees. They provide a certain service on a regional basis or in a niche market and might never grow much beyond that because that’s what they do really well.”
Everyday everyone faces the same thing: Challenges. With support from Dell Technologies, those Medium business and start-up customers can prevent work disruptions, streamline operations, and increase productivity, using scalable, fast technology optimised for the way their business works.
Ambitions to use modern enterprise-grade technologies can be purely functional, such as hunting for efficiencies and streamlining processes. But they can also include the adoption of emerging technologies such as machine learning, mobile workforces, predictive analytics, real-time data, Internet of Things (IoT), automation and active business continuity. These capabilities are available because their services are able to fit the mould of the business, instead of traditional monolithic technology systems that dictate cost and availability.
Accessing tech’s best
But just because the technology is more accessible doesn’t make its adoption seamless. That still requires a business-first view and as such a reliable partner. As mentioned earlier, too many vendor ecosystems obsess over large enterprises. But Dell Technologies has seen the demand from medium businesses and is actively meeting them on their terms.
This can be put to the test: there will be a stand dedicated to medium businesses at the upcoming Dell Technologies Forum in Johannesburg. Visitors will be able to meet Sabine Dedering and her team:
“First and foremost, we will have a chat and understand their business requirements. Then we will connect them with the experts at the Forum and showcase the different technologies available that could be relevant to them. For us, the main focus will be to understand our medium business customers, understand their business and how our expertise can help transform their business. We explore what types of services we can wrap around their requirements to make it easier for them to leverage technology the way other bigger companies may be.”
Finance is part of this conversation: Dell Technologies is pioneering a number of finance models that are very flexible and customised around customers’ cash flow.
Medium-sized businesses don’t need different technologies than what enterprises use. Nor are they excluded anymore: the barriers of costs, complexity and scale have collapsedto open the market, aligning to the limited resources that medium-sized companies have to manage. Every business has its own unique requirements.
* Dedering and her team will be at the Medium Business stand, hosted at the Dell Technologies Forum on 27 June, at the Sandton Convention Centre. Attendance is free but attendees must register beforehand at https://www.delltechnologies.com/en-za/events/forum2019/Johannesburg/index.htm.