E-learning courses 'need effective management'
E-learning could be a solution to some of the education problems experienced by South Africa, although a number of issues will have to be dealt with first. This is according to Kobus Van Wyk, head of e-learning initiatives at Mustek, who claimed online learning has a place in classrooms, but will have to be effectively managed. He pointed out that historically, knowledge was accumulated "in a linear way". "Nowadays, young people are bombarded with information from all directions," the specialist continued, arguing the purpose of teaching should be to help them to understand this data and make sense of it. Previously, Mr Van Wyk led the Khanya scheme in the Western Cape. This was a pilot initiative, which involved rolling out computer-assisted learning and teaching tools to all the academic establishments managed by the region's Department of Education. It was first established in April 2001 in order to explore alternatives to traditional classroom education, with the state noting skilled tutors were leaving the profession, while fewer people were becoming involved in teaching and the Aids epidemic was "starting to take a toll amongst educators". As a result of this scheme, 22,000 teachers were trained in e-learning, while 150,000 computers were fitted in schools. Mr Van Wyk explained the project taught him several things, including that there has to be a secure and safe environment for learning, in which infrastructure is protected. Teachers have to be provided with "ongoing training and support,", while the right hardware should be installed, appropriate academic materials ought to be made available and delivery organisations must not overspend on equipment, the expert added. "Computer skills are now a minimum requirement in the world of work," he added, noting online learning means these talents are imparted "as a byproduct". "The important thing is equipping young people to cope in a rapidly changing world," Mr Van Wyk continued, claiming this is impossible without using computers to assist in academia.