To Rethink Digital in SA, we need to Reinvent Education

african-kids-with-tabThe Opportunities

The next big frontier for technology is not Silicon Valley, but Africa. This is the belief of many tech-fundies, who also believe that Africa is on the brink of a major technology revolution. Where many technologies have reached saturation points in other parts of the world, Africa is just getting started. And many believe that from a political and economic perspective, no other African country is better poised to become the technology gateway to Africa than South Africa. But there are challenges.

The Challenges

It is no secret that South Africa is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to Information Technology. It is true that there are a few interspersed glimmers of hope here and there, but by and large, we’re struggling to meet our own technology needs, let alone helping to solve Africa’s needs.

No doubt, there are many reasons for this situation, but I firmly believe that the root of the problem is the poor state of education in this country, particularly in the field of Information Technology. A comparison of the quality of IT graduates in this country with those in countries like the USA, Kenya and India will clearly show that something is amiss in our education system.

We simply cannot progress as country technologically if we are not producing a constant supply of young graduates with the right IT skills; skills that are relevant, up-to-date and in tune with South Africa’s technological needs, skills that will allow them to compete at a global level. It is the young IT graduates who are driving the digital economies in other countries like the USA, and it is them that will do so in South Africa.

Not that South Africa does not have talent; on the contrary, we have an abundance of talent, but we are failing to harness it. From the youngest kids at primary schools, to the students at universities; from the bustling cities to the remotest of rural areas, SA is brimming with talent, but the big question is, how do we harness this talent? How do we get more kids, especially girls (sadly, females make up about 12% to 15% of SA’s IT workforce!) into technology? Not only that, but how do we train them to be among the best in the world? Is this even possible? I believe that it is possible, but the solution is not an easy one.

The Solution

What South Africa needs, and needs urgently to play catch-up in the IT field, is a major overhaul in the education system. We do not need incremental improvements, not even major improvements; we need nothing short of reinventing the entire system. This has to be done in two ways:

  1. Change what is taught
  2. Change how it is being taught

What is needed from a content point of view are relevant, up-to-date courses that are in tune with global and local market needs. This is easier said than done, given the rapid pace of change in the IT industry.

Added to that, we need to change the way we approach IT education for two reasons: one, IT is a practical subject that needs to be approached in a practical way and two, students these days do not particularly fond of thick, voluminous textbooks full of theory – they want to get down to coding asap.

Anything less than these, and South Africa will be right where it is in ten years!

IT varsity celebrates Nelson Mandela Day 2014!

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IT varsity celebrated Mandela Day 2014 by hosting Free Internet Classes for the community at The Workshop Shopping Centre in Durban Central. This was a truly amazing experience as we got to contribute to the social development of the community.

For many of us that use the internet on a regular basis, we tend to forget that there are many people out there who haven’t got the chance to experience the world wide web as much we have. It was a heart-warming moment to see how enthralled and determined members of the community were when they were learning the basics of browsing, using different search engines, searching for YouTube videos and even creating their very own email accounts!

Members of the community at The Workshop Shopping Centre for the Mandela Day Free Internet Classes.

Members of the community at The Workshop Shopping Centre for the Mandela Day Free Internet Classes.

It was an honour and a privilege for IT varsity to partake in the Mandela Day Programme and give back to our community. IT varsity looks forward to continuously giving back more to community and to help empower more individuals to join the world of Information Technology.

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IT varsity – as proudly South African as can be!

Jim

Here’s to Mr Nelson Mandela; the father of our nation and one of the world’s greatest leaders who always believed that education was the key to success..

Click here to view more pictures of IT varsity celebrating Mandela Day.

Computer Science Tuition Workshops at IT varsity

 

poster-img-computer-scienceAttention all 2nd and 3rd year Computer Science students! IT varsity is hosting Computer Science Tuition Workshops during August and September 2014!

Need extra tuitions in any of your Computer Science modules?

IT varsity’s skilled lecturers are here to help YOU prepare for your final exams!

Check out the schedule below:

compsci_schedule

Important Note: Your tuition fee needs to be paid at your registration period before the tuition commences. There will be 2 modules covered each week per the session unless otherwise stated. Feel free to register for the module most appropriate to you.

Contact us now for more information or to simply book your seat!

Free Java Tuitions for Grade 11 and Grade 12 Learners

java-img-tuitionsCalling all Grade 11 and Grade 12 IT learners! IT varsity is hosting FREE Java Tuitions every Saturday during August and September 2014!

Having trouble understanding anything or everything about Java?

IT varsity’s skilled lecturers are here to help YOU prepare for your final exams!

Check out the schedule below:

java-tuitions

Contact us now for more information or to simply sign up!

Game Review: Adera

AderaAdera is an episodic adventure game in which you play as the heroine, Jane Sinclair.  Take on the challenge by solving puzzles, playing minigames, and collecting items to use to get past obstacles.  Uncover the mystery of Adera and explore a beautiful lost world.

This game so far has four complete episodes with the fifth and final instalment to be available soon.

From episode 1, we find Jane being crash landed on the Atacama Desert in search of her grandfather.  Eventually, she learns more about her grandfather’s role in the ancient city and discovers hidden powers.

While the first episode is free, the rest of the episodes you will have to purchase to play.  Adera is available on the Windows Store as an Xbox game which you can still play on your Windows 8 computers without a Xbox console.

To know more about the game, check out this crazy, funny video:

 

Tech Review: Oculus Rift

Oculus RiftWant to know what it feels like to be in Star Trek’s holodeck?

Oculus Rift is a new virtual reality (VR) headset designed specifically for video games.  This truly immersive VR headset has an incredibly wide field of view with high resolution display and ultra-low latency head tracking that provides you the experience of feeling like you’ve stepped inside your game world.  Oculus Rift takes 3D gaming to the next level.

Unfortunately, this most wanted gaming device is not yet available on the consumer market.  That is only because the Oculus team are working tirelessly along with many game developers to make the consumer versions even more impressive.

For further developer information the Oculus Rift and its technical specifications, check out the Kickstarter project.

Here are some cool videos to check out:

Oculus Rift Skyrim

Oculus Rift Scary

Reversed Learning

10247318_551539308298006_1910289725964882530_nWhen I first started at IT varsity I had learned a new term, “reverse learning”.  Without realising, I had found out I have been practicing this for a long time.

While studying at UNISA, I was struggling with a module I needed to pass for my degree, Advanced Programming.  I put a notice on the Unisa Osprey site for group study.  I ended up with two other students in Durban struggling with the same.  When we met up I eventually realised that as I was teaching I was learning more at the same time.  As I applied this practice in my lectures, I realised my students were understanding better and paying more attention by this interaction.

Reversed learning is a “give and take” situation.  I teach my students, then I give my students the opportunity to do the same.  In this way, studying by teaching fellow classmates helps one to understand better what they are teaching.

At IT varsity, we lecturer’s don’t just give a lecture and be done for the day.  We expect feedback from our students so we know they understand what we’ve just taught.  In the next instance, we throw a ‘bone’ to our students and encourage them to do a lesson.  By doing our lectures this way, our students are not only being motivated but also understanding what they are discussing at the same time.

 

A 74-Year-Old Man Creates Beautiful Works Of Art Using Excel Spreadsheets

horiuchi-excel-artI have to confess: we’ve been teaching Excel for many years now, and helping people do different things with it, but never in our wildest imagination did we think of this: Tatsuo Horiuchi, a 74-year-old man from an area in Japan called Nagano Prefecture, has discovered how to make stunning works of art using Excel spreadsheets.

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Free Internet Classes at IT varsity

globe-internetTrue story: an associate of IT varsity recently went to a library in a Durban suburb and noticed that even though there was a computer with an internet connection at the library, no one was using it. This was despite the fact that there were a number of students doing research at the library.

She decided to approach a couple of the students and inquire why they were not using the computer to do their research. The response form the students was shocking, to say the least: they did not know how to use the Internet!

Shocking as this may seem to those of us who have the privilege of being connected 24/7, this is a sad reality in South Africa. The vast majority of the population does not know how to use computers and the Internet.

In a world where technology is moving at an amazing pace and the Internet is changing the way we look at business, work, shopping and communication, this is a situation that is highly detrimental not just to the individuals but to the economy of the country: we’re going to get left far behind if something is not done about it.

The staff and students of IT varsity decided to do our part to help alleviate this situation by offering free Internet classes to the public. We realised that the July holidays are around the corner, and that there would be scores of school kids around with nothing much to do, so it would be an ideal opportunity to bring them in for classes.

But the classes are not just for school kids – everyone is welcome, young and not-so-young; so if you are really interested in learning about the Internet, and were afraid to ask someone to show you the ropes or you couldn’t afford computer classes, then this one is for you! And to make things easier, we’re hosting the classes at five different venues on different days. See the programme below (please note that the dates and venues may change):

Date Venue
30 June, 1,2 July IT varsity City Campus
3,4,5 July Chatsworth Centre
7,8 July Chatsworth Centre
9,10,11,12 July Phoenix Plaza
14,15 July IT varsity City Campus
16,17,18 July The Workshop

 

The duration of the class will be 3 hours. There will be 2 classes per day: 9am until 12pm and 12mp until 3pm.

To get more information about the free Internet classes or to book your place, please contact us.

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