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How connected classrooms can unlock learners’ potential

Internet access is a lot like oxygen these days – we can’t seem to live without it. Learners, parents and educators would probably agree, as the internet has made learning so much easier, effective, and engaging through access to educational resources online.

 “The connected classroom can change the face of education in South Africa, giving learners across the country access to the same learning opportunities and quality of education,” says Lianne Williams, Marketing Director at Vuma. “Ensuring every learner not only has access to the internet in these spaces but that they are also empowered to make the best use of the world of resources it opens up to them is crucial in changing the educational landscape in South Africa for the better.”

 The benefits of a connectivity-enabled classroom are countless, from being able to access millions of learning resources to finding a community in the learning space. Here are a few more ways the internet can transform learning both within and outside the classroom.

 Keeping learners and educators in touch

 When learners have trouble understanding a math equation or need help with a tricky science concept in their homework, they may be tempted to give up figuring it out altogether. Having a WhatsApp group or access to any other instant messaging app with their peers and teachers helps them work through challenges on the spot, overcome potential disruptions and continue learning.

 The school of YouTube 

YouTube videos can be a great source of information for learners, especially those who find it easier to grasp information audio-visually. For educators, YouTube and other online video platforms can serve as supplements to lesson plans, helping learners engage with new subjects and concepts.

 Making learning fun and engaging

 The traditional classroom of yester-year required children to sit quietly and read from their textbooks. Today, we know that the most impactful learning happens when learners are able to see subjects come to life and are able to relate what’s being taught to what they are familiar with. Digital tools such as animation, popular memes and GIFs, virtual games, music and more are now more commonly used to aid learners in their educational journeys.

 Supporting differently abled learners

 Learners with learning, hearing, visual, and physical disabilities require special educational resources, and educators can support these needs by making more extensive use of online resources that are designed especially for these circumstances. For example, online learning resources that incorporate sign language and graphics for the hearing impaired, audiobooks for the visually impaired, and alternative teaching methods for those with learning disabilities are just some examples of what educators can use to supplement classroom learning. The anytime, anywhere nature of the internet also means that those with physical disabilities, who may find it difficult to attend classes or even have to miss school, can attend online classes from home or watch recordings of lessons in their own time.

Learning in your own language

 For learners who struggle to learn in English medium classes, learning can be an isolating and frustrating experience. Having access to translation apps, online dictionaries, peer forums and even multi-vernacular learning materials online can help break down language barriers and make the learning process much smoother.

 “Internet access provides South African schools and learners with the tools they need to unlock their own potential and empower themselves and their communities to achieve those bright, bold futures they deserve. As Vuma continues to work towards connecting as many classrooms to free fibre as possible through our Fibre to Schools programme, which has connected over 780 schools to date, our vision to transform the landscape of education and opportunity in the country remains as strong as ever,” concludes Williams.

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