Retired teacher’s textbook goes digital

2012-02-06 00:00

TWO years after retiring from teaching Tony Hambly is still a presence in the classroom thanks to being one of the authors of the Grade 10 geography text book published by Via Afrika. But Hambly, a former teacher at Treverton College and the Maritzburg Christian School, also finds himself at the cutting edge of educational technology as the text book is also available as an eBook.

“If you buy a pupil’s text book with it you get a CD of the whole book in electronic form,” says Hambly­. “This comes with various enhancements, for example, if you click on one of the ‘hotspots’, you can watch a video on subjects such as global warming or the greenhouse effect.”

There are a variety of other features that allow the user to zoom in to the text and illustrative material­, underline or highlight text, as well add comments and notes. The eBook can also be projected onto a screen in the classroom.

Via Afrika is the first to publish eBooks with enhancements and additional materials on this scale based on the new curriculum.

“In the past there have been PDF versions of books, but these are the first proper complete ebooks,” says Michael Goodman, national publishing manager for Via Afrika.

The enhancements are a key feature.

“Authors suggest where they might be appropiate and we also have educational experts who read through the books and suggest the logical places for enhancements,” says Goodman.

“With maths and science it is an opportunity to take into account a poor classroom environment and improve on it,” says Goodman. “But other subjects also benefit. For example, in the Afrikaans literature eBook­ there is a reading of the poem, Raka, with accompanying visuals. So there is plenty of scope to provide additional information.”

Via Afrika, which has Grade 10 text books on the shelves and in the classrooms, is currently developing books for Grade 11.

“Eventually we will have a complete range of eBooks­ for Grade 4 through to Grade 12,” says Goodman.

The text book comes with a free eBook with four to six enhancements. But you can also purchase a fully enhanced version with 50 to 60 enhancements.

As well as the text book there is an accompanying guide for teachers. “This spells out the lessons,” says Hambly, “when in the term they should be taught and the times allocated for subjects, it provides questions and answers and explains them. There is also a CD with exam and test questions as well as other resources.

“In many ways the teacher’s guide was more difficult to write,” says Hambly. “I constantly had to think ‘how would I teach this’?”

Fortunately, Hambly was able to draw on 46 years of teaching experience.

“At my advanced stage of life I find it exciting being in the forefront of educational technology.”

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