Google launches tech education kits

School desks. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
School desks. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town – Google on Wednesday announced a boost for education with its Expeditions Pioneer programme.

The search giant will in 2016 supply kits for schools children that comprise a smartphones, tablet and router for teachers to run the programme that allows leaners to explore ancient sites.

“To help teachers learn how to use Expeditions, we’ll be visiting thousands of schools around the world and bringing the kit for teachers to use in their classes for the day,” wrote David Quaid, software engineer for Google Expeditions on the official blog.

The programme will launch in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand and the US first and teachers can choose from a library of places to visit, including Mars and the Great Wall of China. Teachers have to sing up to the website for a chance to be included in the programme.

Google has partnered with multiple organisations to produce the set of educational software, and is also pushing the technology as a driver to motivate children to career choices.

Teacher training

“We’re also working with the Starfish Foundation to help students explore future careers by showing them a virtual day in the life of professionals including a veterinarian and computer scientist,” said Quaid.

Tech rival Apple also has an education programme running in South Africa where iPads are used in schools in a drive to build digital education strategies.

"Our partner schools, through the use of Apple technology, are creating learning environments that truly engage and motivate this generation of students,” said Michelle Lissoos, managing director of ThinkAhead Education Solutions, a division of Core Group recently.

In Gauteng, the provincial government is set to spend R17bn in a mass tablet in education rollout for the province.

However, education programmes often rely on teachers to implement them and up to half of any technology education budget should be focused on training educators.

"Training, training and then some more training of teachers, as well as education department officials.  The major reason for under-utilisation (or in many cases, non-use) of technology in schools is the lack of understanding on the part of teachers of the way in which technology is to be employed in the classroom," Kobus Van Wyk, head of e-Learning at Mustek told Fin24.


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