Video conferencing has been an integral part of our business world for the better part of two decades. We are finally seeing high-definition video being adopted in scale by organisations and delivering very strong return on investment performance and productivity gains.
In Botswana the availability of high quality bandwidth at an affordable price through the likes of Bofinet is a major factor in adoption of high definition video conferencing together with the drop in pricing of the Video Conferencing equipment. Video has also played an important role in higher education, particularly in the university sector – but we haven’t seen it widely used in primary and secondary education networks until quite recently.
This past weekend at the WITD event at Thamaga Dimension Data Botswana demonstrated a Video Conferencing solution pilot that would be carried out in a number of schools in Southern Botswana before it is expanded to the rest of the country if successful. The solution is such that several schools are connected simultaneously via video and tutoring lessons delivered to pupils from a single point thus making it very cost effective while exposing the learners to the benefits of technology.
Declining pass rates in secondary schools country wide and in particular the subjects of Mathematics, Science and English created the platform to pilot the advantages of video conferencing technology as a teaching tool. The technology is used to complement the class room teacher based teachings and foster a learning community for students who would typically require additional tutoring in the subjects mentioned above.
Video conferencing will be a fantastic form of professional development for staff and an ideal way for students to interact with their peers attempting the same course from other schools. The connected schools will give the students a chance not only to compare themselves with students from other schools but also an opportunity to form working friendships and to help and support each other. The technology will enable the students to develop a support network with other schools in the region/nationally and may make the students more competitive.
The video conferencing technology will offer teachers the ability to learn other techniques of teaching and the ability to experiment using new technologies such as using the camera on a whiteboard or using PowerPoint presentations.
Dimension Data is very enthusiastic about the future use of the technology. I think it is a powerful resource that should be utilised among schools to enable students to interact with others from different schools, enable students to experience other teaching methods from various teachers, and also for teachers themselves to learn from other teachers.
The video conferencing enables this to happen very easily!!!PS: The Video Conferencing solution to the schools, dubbed Dimension Data Saturday School E-Learning programme internally, is part of the Dimension Data Heads, Heart and Hands (CSI) program and is offered at no cost to the schools. *Duncan Pie is the Managing Director at Dimension Data Botswana/Zambia.