Digital literacy front and centre on World Teachers’ Day

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Local online safety and media literacy organisation MySociaLife has introduced an online learning programme to provide teachers with digital literacy skills, as World Teachers’ Day is commemorated today.

Over the last 18 months, many educators have been forced to grapple with a new and overwhelming online learning landscape. The new ‘teach the teachers‘ course will help them navigate the challenges and opportunities of a life increasingly spent online, while learning how to impart their knowledge to pupils, according to MySociaLife.

Co-convened in partnership with the International Labour Organisation, UNICEF and Education International, World Teachers' Day is observed every year on 5 October to honour teachers. It seeks to consider issues related to teachers and teaching, focusing on appreciation, assessment and changes required for teachers to execute their duties.

The pandemic has seen technology and education become increasingly integrated in the schooling system across the globe, as governments announced COVID-19-induced lockdowns.

The Department of Basic Education is reportedly looking into regulations and policies it can follow to open online public schools and introduce a switch-up from traditional brick-and-mortar schools to online schooling.

However, according to MySociaLife, most teachers do not feel adequately equipped to deal with the diverse aspects of a digital learning life, and many feel it’s a vast online landscape to understand, while others admit to being overwhelmed during an uncertain and difficult period.

The 75-minute online course uses a web-based ‘log in and learn’ approach to reveal what's happening regarding social media, apps, learning trends, learning tools, cyber security, scams, mental health and essential privacy settings.

From this foundation, educators can approach their students with a greater understanding and deeper interest to find what excites them in the digital space.

Dean McCoubrey, founder of MySociaLife, notes: “We know the majority of teens and pre-teens are online more, so how are we guiding them to look behind the right doors with that screen time? While social media, apps and games are entertaining, there are also amazing websites, learning apps and resources to help educate, inspire and even make money from.

“It’s evident there is a digital skills gap in our country already. We have to start earlier to mentor students in finding multiple interests in this rapidly-evolving world of technology. Jobs will be fiercely contested and relevant skills will be central. It’s a little like retirement; the earlier you start and the better the guidance, the returns will be greater,” notes McCoubrey.

The programme explains the different dimensions of life online for pupils between grades four to six and also grades seven to 11. It looks at the typical failings of schools around the digital and social media landscape; how to build a better digital culture in the classroom and on campus; and latest trends around social and learning apps, gaming, cyber bullying, fake news, and privacy and security issues.

Meanwhile, multifunctional printing devices company Konica Minolta South Africa says in light of World Teachers’ Day, it will expand its Konica Minolta Mobile Library footprint across more provinces, to provide greater access to resources, learning materials and a developed IT infrastructure for pupils and teachers.

The mobile library has, since its inception in 2012, created a platform for young learners in Gauteng, with access to a variety of books, digital literacy resources, computers and printers. It assists young minds with the completion of their homework, while providing a safe sanctuary for ongoing studies and reading.

The mobile library will be expanded to KwaZulu-Natal, with plans to establish it in other provinces.

“We remain strongly committed to our ongoing literacy efforts across SA, as we believe every child should have the right to easily access reading materials,” says Marc Pillay, CEO of Konica Minolta South Africa.

“The youth are pivotal to the success of our country, and through our Konica Minolta Mobile Library, we are able to directly connect students with opportunities that can create brighter futures.”

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