Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Six years of Patience, Resilience and Networking to keep Mpumalanga ICT CLUB Standing

"It’s not what you achieve that defines your success in your career, but what you overcome” said Ms Nomusa Keninda during the interview. She and her members of the Mpumalanga ICT Club  celebrated the six years anniversary of the club on the 12 May 2020. The celebration was hosted on the Online Zoom Cloud for the first time because of the lockdown period regulated to combat the spread of Coronavirus in the country.

Mpumalanga ICT Club started in 2014, when Ms Keninda was attached to Anglo American Science Centre at Landau in eMalahleni. She was a Career Guidance Coordinator appointed by the Mpumalanga Department of Education. Her hard work at the centre at that time earned her trip to Belgium to attend and present an international paper in the Science Centre World Summit in 2014. The paper was co-authored by Prof. Collence T Chisita of Zimbabwe who unfortunately couldn’t go to Belgium, titled ‘Revitalizing Science Centres in Africa in the Age of ICT: Case of Zimbabwe and South Africa’

Shortly after the trip, she conceptualised the birth of Mpumalanga ICT Club. The club was formally launched on the 18 October 2014, at Edward Matyeka Primary School. She became the founder and the chairperson of the club. Alongside were the executive members of the club, Karabo Mashabela, Bheki Mbatha, Phumzile Ndhlovu, and Ntombizodwa Gininda. “It wasn’t easy as that but it was worthier when I look back from today” Keninda said.

Under her stewardship, the club hosted numerous initiatives that introduced teachers, learners and youth of eMalahleni into ICT skills. “Our remarkable appearance was in 2016 on the SABC 404 channel, Network News when SABC broadcasted our training event at Maloma Primary School. Again, last year when I was in Paris, France attending the Microsoft Education Exchange Global Summit, SABC MorningLive news interviewed me” said Nomusa.

Nomusa presented workshops in and outside the country putting the club on the international map. “Yes, last year, in Pretoria, during the Africa Play Conference, I presented a paper based on the initiative adopted by the club ‘DigiGirlz are everywhere’ aimed at empowering young girls into Coding skills and Career Guidance”. Africa Play Conference was the first conference to be hosted in Africa and she did it with passion. “I had an opportunity to meet the father and the founder of Scratch Team Mitchel Resnick. Scratch is a programming software that the club is using to introduce learners into Coding skills.

“I was also called to present a motivational speech and Coding training to teachers in the 365Edu Events Conference under the theme ‘Mpumalanga ICT Club on Spotlight’ by the founder of the 365Edu Event organisation, the late Mark Duncan based in Dubai in 2018 in Durban and Cape Town” Keninda related.

The club couldn’t have survived without the strong network that Nomusa has built. She has been a member of the South African Association of Science and Technology Centres and SchoolnetSA where she met mentors who helped her to grow the club’s brand. Like she says, “It’s what you overcome that defines your success”.

The impact of the club has gone unnoticed as many teachers and learners in Nkangala district who continue to attend ICT trainings offered by the club are using the skills personally and in their classrooms. Last year Bheki Mbatha of Zacheus Malaza Secondary competed provincially after scooping a District Award for using technology in the classroom from the National Teaching Award Scheme.

“My wishes are to see the club standing the test of times from the shift presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, and seeing it tapping from the online remote trainings agenda”. I know, it would demand lot of creativity, innovations, collaboration and funding to keep the club for the next generation. The club offers digital learning skills for teachers, learners and the youth in and around Mpumalanga province. When asked about future initiatives and collaborations, Nomusa has this to say, “We want to support students studying online and to take away fears from those who have intentions to study online in future. Definitely, the Covid-19 has stretched our thinking and we see universities and other institutions offering dual programmes (offline or online remote courses) as open options for students.

Nomusa Keninda is the Founder of the Mpumalanga ICT Club, e-Learning Specialist, Motivational Speaker and a Master of Education in ICT student at University of Johannesburg.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Jump in or fall by the wayside.

Every business, sport, entertainment,  you can name them including education were forced into new environments since the Coronavirus outbreak which led to the stand still of normal traditional activities around the globe called Lockdown.

South Africans schools were also forced to closed down just before the official school closure on the 18 March 2020 leaving the department of basic education and other sectors to amend their schools or activity calendar for the year. Big Easter church gatherings were also forced to worship individually at home.

Coronavirus is a deadly flu like symptoms disease which started in China and spread all over the globe. The mighty continent of Africa was slowly becoming affected on daily basis with a rapid increase of infected people. South Africa, my birth country had a number of infections that rise day by day with others succumbing their lives. Coronavirus has also taught us that handwashing hygiene can no longer be ignored.

Jumping into new ways of doing things is no longer a matter of choice now, it is a matter of sustainability and survival. On daily basis there is a spring and marathon of new technologies targeting Education and businesses to provide remote online services to their target audiences.  In Education, teachers especially in public schools were anxiously worried how they will reconnect with their learners due to their lack of online computer skills. At the same time, learners too especially grade 12 were no longer so sure about their future.

The Department of Basic Education together with provincial departments published lists of Online tools for teachers to use to reconnect with their learners and start online remote learning such as Classdojo, Edmodo, Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Seesaw, Moodle, Radio Stations and Television channels etc. Questions remain, are teachers capable of navigating and making choices amongst the online tools to use without any necessary guidelines, the cost of Data involve in using the tools, the stability of network in some areas which can affect the bandwidth, the online safety for learners who can accidentally go to inappropriate material online, the ability of parents to assist their kids online, all these issues can negatively affect the good course of continuing with learning at a distance.

It is a matter of jumping in or fall by the wayside to all of us. After reading some good work compiled by educationists around the globe giving guidance on what to do under this difficult time of Pandemic in Education.  They reminded me of the importance of Maslow's hierarchy of needs that Safety and Physiological needs come first than Bloom's Taxonomy. I was comforted and advise teachers and learners not to be anxious, their wellbeing and safety is paramount now and beyond lockdown. They should do what they can to keep their connections with their fellow learners and engage with their peers for positive feedbacks.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Video on the chalkboard, disrupted the norm in the classroom

Sometimes other things happens for a good
course but this one was unexpected but it happened. "Video on the chalkboard".
Three DigiGirlz Launched at Thembisile Hani Municipality, KwaMhlanga. 

Mr. OJ Molopo with DigiGirlz 
It can be a very daunting task to organize a digital learning event in a school with no devices and connectivity but it is possible. Phanagela Primary School is in the deep remote rural area of Mpumalanga in South Africa, at KwaMhlanga known as former KwaNdebele area. This area is best understood by those who know the history of South Africa during the Apartheid era where a group areas act was passed to place black people in homelands separating them according to culture and ethnicity. KwaNdebele for the Ndebele speaking natives.

Although Phanagela Primary School did not have devices for learners to practically learn Coding, learners were excited to learn about Positive Personal Branding and Careers in Computer Sciences. "The girls learnt about setting themselves apart from the rest, be resilient and the power of networking with people that positively contribute to their vision" said Mr. Oupa Molopo well known as OJ at the school. He is also a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert 2019. These girls showed an interest in this workshop and attended in numbers.
Ms. Maile & Keninda
Coding Twins 
Ms. Lelo Maile, the deputy principal of Moloto Primary School coordinated three groups of girls from her neighborhood and ensure that the girls are exposed to Computer Science Education. "The Computer lab was full to capacity and the girls enjoyed the Hour of Code Minecraft Adventurer, they couldn't stop until they all reach puzzle 14 to receive their certificates" said Ms. Maile with excitement.
We are looking forward to involve more schools in this area in future. Mpumalanga ICT CLUB is spreading its branches to reach out to all schools in Mpumalanga and thanks to those diligent teachers.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Feel it, its here...Africa Code Week 2019

Karabo, Nomusa & Duduzile 
Learners from DM Motsaosele Secondary School and Coronation Secondary School will never be the same after attending the Africa Code Week 2019 event hosted by the Mpumalanga ICT CLUB at Witbank Campus, Nkangala TVET College on the 5th October 2019.

"Our children are excited to learn new skills that help them to vision their future" said Ms. Keninda- Founder of the Mpumalanga ICT CLUB and an eLearning Specialist. Coding skills assist learners to understand the importance of learning Mathematics and Science so that they can venture into Computer Science Careers and the new jobs that never existed before because of the Forth Industrial Revolution. 

Zacheaus Malaza Sec.
The Africa Code Week event is initiated by SAP organization and supported by Google.  The aim is to introduce Coding skills to children and youth in Africa.  37 countries in Africa participate in the celebration and is targeting to reach 6million children from the 4 to 18 October 2019.

Two learners from Coronation Secondary School rendered an informative dialogue about their understanding about the Forth Industrial Revolution, an era where lots of jobs become obsolete in the job market due to advanced technology. The banking sector is mostly affected because people use internet or cellphone banking. "We also learnt about the first launch of the Robot Teacher in India from Ms Keninda" said Ms Phindile Skosana, teacher from DM Motsaosele. 
The following schools in eMalahleni will also host the Africa Code Week: Vuma Combined School, Ilanga Secondary, Hlanguphala Primary School, Witbank High and Zacheaus Malaza Secondary School.