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Education, Training & Development

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5 Ways to a better year

Many of us have made new years resolutions by now. If not, it’s probably safe to say that all of us, at least have a desire to either achieve more the coming year, or simply live a better life. Here are 5 ways that could lead to you having a better year. 

1. Be a leader and take on added responsibility.  
Everyone is a leader in some way or the other. You are a leader if you have a younger brother or sister. Consider the colleague who always ask you for your opinion, or a neighbor asking you for advice. Embrace your leadership role because there is a family, a community, and an organisation looking to you for guidance, wisdom and courage.

2. Attend a new course and continuously look for other ways to grow.
With access to the internet, you can do a free online course to broaden your knowledge. Also  identify community organisations/non-profits that provide training opportunities. Also, never forget to learn from your friends, parents, neighbors  and colleagues. They possess a wealth of knowledge and wisdom.

3. Do something for others.
We are designed to be part of an ecosystem of support. In essence, as I recently heard on radio; “All of us are gravitating towards acceptance.” We want to be accepted by others and to belong. The year ahead could be a great year to purposely seek out opportunities to do something special for someone.

4. Start a business or take on a new job.
For some this is a scary thought, for very obvious reasons. Years ago, my mentor told me that the easiest way to commit, is by calculating the risk upfront. Know how much you can afford to lose, and make your attempt. Others have risked. And many of them had all the odds against them, but were rewarded for their courage and faith.

5. Become more innovative in your current job.
Businesses usually focus on innovation to come up with better products, services and processes. They also innovate to ensure sustainability. Likewise,  you and I, may also innovate in our jobs. Find ways to improve on the things that you struggled with last year. Call on a friend for help, and try without fear of failure, different approaches to your tasks.

So, these are the 5 things that could be extremely useful for having a better year. Is there anything else that you will focus on?  

The things that matter

I decided to ask some of my team mates at RLabs what they think are important aspects in education.  Over the last 5 years RLabs has  trained over 8 000 persons from the Cape Flats, in areas such as Social Media and Management. A common understanding is that many persons enroll in courses in order to improve their chances of finding employment. And so I wanted to find out what the community experience at the RLabs Academy. My team mates gave me their feedback which I summarized in 7 key aspects. These aspects  tend to be overlooked, even though it appears to be critical for the holistic development and future accomplishments of a person.

education facts

  1. Education builds confidence (Inter-personal growth);
  2. It serves as a place of safety for some;
  3. Provides an environment for change and growth;
  4. Provides acceptance to those feeling out of place;
  5. Gives a network of friends and contacts;
  6.  Affirms and promotes self-worth;
  7. Provides a space where persons can escape reality and the pressures of life.

Now I am the first to admit that we can easily focus on sharing knowledge and getting a targeted number of students to graduate. After considering the above feedback from my team mates, it clearly shows that the actual education experience and process, is so much more important, than the number of students that you actually graduate. The more meaningful the experience students have, the greater the chance for learning, personal growth, and future success. What do you think is important in education?

Education: Hope, not Despair

Higher Education in South Africa has been under the spotlight over the past two weeks. The media highlighted the increasing demand for tertiary education vs. the incapacity of institutions of higher learning to accommodate the youth. Many youth were turned away, possibly becoming disappointed and despaired.

My involvement in student enrollment at the college where I teach impacted me deeply and caused me to write this short piece. It’s a brief reflection on my personal experiences and observations. Hundreds of youth came to the college to enroll for vocational and other courses. I met many new faces and enjoyed the opportunity to assist and guide parents and students through the registration process.

I have seen worry in the eyes of parents and students when they scramble to submit outstanding documents to secure their place at the college. A mother said to me; “She (her daughter) was already disappointed by other colleges that rejected her application.” As the mother said that; I noticed the tears flowing from her daughter’s eyes and down her cheeks. Being affected by the desperation from this mother and daughter, I asked my colleague to commit that they would enroll the girl and grant her the opportunity to gather outstanding documents.

This experience and others, made me think about the role institutions of learning play in society. I can possibly mention many roles; however, the one I wish to highlight is the role of giving hope. Hope presents opportunity, not limitations. It presents love, and not despair.

Check out some remarkable stories of hope around Cape Town.

“2012”, Yes!

Tomorrow will be my first day back at work after a four week long holiday. The moment of truth has arrived and I am excited to get back to working again.

My time off has been great with family and friends who made each moment special. So, why am I so excited about the year ahead?  As an educator, I believe that the Further Education and Training (FET) sector in South Africa has a window of opportunity to make a massive impact on student’s lives during 2012. One of the things that excites me is the passion of some of my colleagues and friends to make a difference. Another factor is the technology that becomes freely available for the use by educators and students. Google Applications isImage a simple example of tools available to the education sector.

Last year I have slowly introduced aspects of google apps into the classroom and have seen the potential.

Some of my goals for this year are:

1. Empower my colleagues to use google apps and other tools.

2. Empower students to utilise google apps when doing projects.

3. Look for meaningful ways to increase students’ learning experience.

Enter that space where students engage.

After a busy day at work, I am reflecting on what I did and many conversations with colleagues and students. Some words that strongly come to mind is engage, influence and learn. Working as an educator in the college sector is an awesome privilege. In itself, every teacher or lecturer is presented with an opportunity or space to positively influence and shape the lives of others. This space has however become a lot more interesting due to the many tools students use to engage with peers. Smartphones and the use of Instant messaging and social media platforms have shaped the way this engagement space appear to educators. For some it is a whole new world with a completely different set of rules and a new kind of “language”. Learning to learn how to enter that “unknown” space seem to be the biggest challenge for some. It is however inevitable that the only way to effectively engage and influence learners, is by entering that space where they engage, and shape from the inside. Become a part of that space, speak their language, make it yours and positively influence.

Practical steps to use Cloud Computing when teaching College students.

Many educators find it difficult to use technology to teach their learners. This could, amongst others, be  attributed to their lack of resources-or-skills.  However, some might have the technology skills, but still lack the knowledge on how to utilise those skills to teach their learners. And even if educators are able to use technology to teach, their ability to transfer those same skills to the learner is of more importance.

Recently, I found myself frustrated when learners continuosly demanded my attention to review the project work they have completed. I realised that instead of walking from one group of students to another, I could teach learners how to store their documents on the cloud. And what better way to start by introducing them to Google Documents.

These were the steps I followed:

1. Help and make sure that a group leader has a Gmail account and email the project to them.

2. When students have completed a piece of their project, show them how to save that piece of work on Google Documents, instead of on the computer.

3. Show them how to share that document with me (coach/educator).

4. Review the work on Google Documents and email them feedback. Alternatively have face-to-face meeting with the group to clarify and guide.

The above tips have been a starting point for me, and I know that more must still be done. Considering the development in cloud computing and its role in the business world, we as educators have to equip ourselves and our learners before they enter the business world.

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