Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Towards the Realization of an ICT Education Living Lab-The TechTeachers.Co.Za Success Story

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Towards the Realization of an ICT Education Living Lab-The TechTeachers.Co.Za Success Story

Article excerpt

Introduction

ICT related education in South Africa underwent various changes in its long history as part of the South African secondary school curriculum. This willingness to renew and change was evident as the South African Department of Basic education recently embarked on a re-circulation process for all school curricula (de Jager, 2011). The current South African ICT curriculum consists of two subjects, namely, Computer Applications Technology (CAT) and Information Technology (IT). Africa in general and South Africa specifically face a myriad of challenges within the educational sector (Teferra & Altbachl, 2004; Welch, 2002). The country is continuously seeking and new and innovative ways of providing solutions to educational communities (Ford & Leinonen, 2009). Over recent years the Living Lab concept and the adoption of living labs has grown globally with similar interests in Southern Africa and Africa. One approach supported by the researchers and proven in practice is the establishment and creation of Living Labs to support community oriented activities, which include education (cf. Avellis, Agrimi, Di Ciano, Grasso, & Surico, 2015; Buitendag, Wassermann & Pretorius, 2013)

The Subjects CAT and IT

CAT and IT are two elective FET school subjects which form part of the FET phase of the South African secondary school curriculum. Each subject in the South African curriculum is described in an official policy document called 'The Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS)' (DoE, n.d.). The CAPS for CAT describes the subject as follows: "Computer Applications Technology is the study of the integrated components of a computer system (hardware and software) and the practical techniques for their efficient use and application to solve everyday problems. The solutions to problems are designed, managed and processed via end-user applications and communicated using appropriate information and communication technologies (ICTs). ICTs are the combination of networks, hardware and software as well as the means of communication, collaboration and engagement that enable the processing, management and exchange of data, information and knowledge" (DoE, 2010a).

IT is described as "Information Technology is the study of the various interrelated physical and nonphysical technologies used for the capturing of data, the processing of data into useful information and the management, presentation and dissemination of data. Information Technology studies the activities that deal with the solution of problems through logical and computational thinking. It includes the physical and non-physical components for the electronic transmission, access, and manipulation of data and information" (DoE, 2010b).

Each of the two subjects stresses and promotes the application of logical thinking as well as computational thinking in the development of solutions for everyday problems in real world environments. The subject CAT focuses on the creation of solutions which are designed, managed, and processed via end-user applications. The subject IT promotes the use of a programming language and subsequent programming constructs in the development of solutions utilizing a high level programming language, i.e., Delphi or Java.

CAT and IT Teacher Support

Each provincial education department employs subject advisors whose primary task is to support the various educators in an applicable district with subject related matters. The subject advisors are supposed to help with the knowledge support requirements of the individual educator as required (Legotlo et al., 2002, p. 117). In addition, subject advisors are also tasked with providing some content specific training, and advice on best practices. Depending on the education domain this is often not the case, and many advisors face an array of problems and challenges which are often in line with that of the teachers. This fact is often stressed on forums and open communities and workshops. …

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