Pass rates have jumped from 26 percent to 100 percent in some rural South African high school classrooms thanks to a video-learning initiative between The University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, The Free State Department of Education and Sonic Foundry, Inc., provider of video content management and webcasting solutions.
The university’s ICT Innovation in School Education Department (ICTISE) provides support on core subjects such as mathematics , physical science, life science, economics, accounting and geography — to 60 at risk rural high schools in the Free State Province in preparation for their final exit exams.
To combat a potential lack of qualified teachers, highly qualified teachers who have received 100 percent pass rate from around the Free State province record lectures in the ICTISE studio using Mediasite. The schools receive three hours of webcasts each day, as well as preparation and support for Grade 12 exams and revision. Teaching development training programs are also provided.
“Some of the rural schools have access to very little or no technology so the teacher cannot show the students, for example, the use of a digital map in geography,” said Sarietjie Musgrave, Head of ICTISE at the university. “Sometimes our expert teachers bring students to our studio on campus and use them in the broadcast.”
Whenever possible, the webcasts are live to increase interaction between teachers in the studio and students in the rural high school classrooms. All the lessons are also available on-demand.
In addition to supporting students, the University of the Free State uses Mediasite to train teachers and school administrators on how to integrate technology into their classrooms. The university has prepared lessons on how to use document cameras, how to integrate the Internet into teaching and learning and many other topics the rural schools teachers have expressed interest in. The university also uses Mediasite to record lectures at its main campus in Bloemfontein for students in satellite campuses to view.
“We find Mediasite very easy to use and it’s very easy to train these schools to use the technology, despite their lack of information and communications technology skills. Mediasite hits all the right buttons: easy to use; great customer support; it’s clean and clutter-free and it’s easy to interact with,” Musgrave said. “All these things together make Mediasite the perfect solution for us.”
“Online video-based learning is one of the fastest growing trends in education and allows for quick and cost-effective communication between experts and students. It’s rewarding to support University of the Free State as they push the boundaries of classroom technology to connect rural high schools to highly-renowned experts – something that would have been very challenging even a few years ago,” said Gary Weis, chief executive officer of Sonic Foundry. “It’s exciting for us to be a part of this collaboration to enhance student achievement in South Africa, and realize a shared vision of education for everyone.”