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My journey with eLearning

My eLearning journey has proven an insightful, interesting, and quite a learning venture despite how brief it may seem.

As a teacher moving into head office to join the WCED Head Office eLearning directorate as the Technology Project manager, the transition was huge. At school, my main concern was the learners in my classroom and in the school, however, at Head Office, we serve all the learners and all the schools in the province. Challenging indeed, yet knowing that the difference you make can impact the lives of so many learners was the motivation that kept me going, especially with the enormous pressures placed on eLearning during the lockdown.

Having worked in the different environments within the WCED, enabled me to gain a holistic understanding of the department and its various objectives. One objective is clear within all the WCED components…What we do, we do in the best interest of our learners. The WCED mantra of “… providing quality education for every child, in every classroom, in every school” are not merely words but intent and action we practised daily. Working with all the schools in the province, I have become acutely aware of the ICT environments at the schools and their initiatives to integrate the use of ICT. Being a part of the eLearning engine room and observing how various portfolios integrate, I can now better advise my teachers not only within Computer Applications Technology (CAT) curriculum but also with the integration and adoption of ICT in teaching and learning.

Though working at Head Office was amazing, I always had the burning desire to work closer with schools and assist teachers at the school level. As a CAT subject advisor, I now have the opportunity to do that. eLearning and the use of ICT are vital to education and preparing learners for the technological world that awaits after school. It is a sad day when a learner enters a university or the world of work after school with no computer or digital literacy skills. Various efforts have been made by the Directorate eLearning to create an enabling environment for learners to be able to use ICT for learning purposes. It is my duty as a now-CAT Subject Advisor to ensure that not only the CAT learners, but as many learners as possible have the opportunity to engage and utilise the provisioned technology for its intended purpose. There are still many learners and teachers who steer away from technology and would rather prefer pen and paper over the use of a computer. A mind shift is needed and CAT is one of the vital subjects that can contribute to the adoption of eLearning.

Change starts with YOU!

Many teachers perceive eLearning and the integration of ICT as an additional effort or an administrative burden. eLearning should not be seen as an addition to the curriculum but rather as an integral part of teaching and learning and it starts from the top. School management should start to integrate and adopt ICT in their daily engagements. Staff should gradually be introduced to the various elements of eLearning until they have fully integrated and internalized the use of ICT for teaching and learning. There are endless benefits for teachers and learners that might only be revealed once they have embraced eLearning.

Change is needed to unleash hidden potential:

  • It starts with management. Once principals and their management teams have embraced eLearning as the way forward, it will filter through to their staff.

  • One teacher at a time. As soon as the eLearning sensation is ignited in one teacher, it will spread to the rest.

  • Start simple, eLearning can be done easily. Start small and build upon the skills developed. Try not to stagnate, just keep pushing forward and learning.

  • Change can be difficult, so keep reflecting, and keep shifting your mindset. Remind yourself that as a teacher and human being, you have the power and capacity to adapt, grow and evolve.

  • One important lesson I have learnt during these transitions in my life is the importance of good relations. Relationship currency is the most valuable commodity. Maintaining good relationships with colleagues might be the best value you take from a workplace.

Don’t be afraid to say YES. YES… every opportunity has its challenges, YES…nothing comes easy, BUT ALSO YES… you can achieve whatever you want to if you tell yourself… YES, I CAN!


Yours in Education 

Thaabit Ismail

CAT Advisor (Overberg Education District)

Western Cape Education Department

Thaabit Ismail was employed as an educator by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) for 10 years. He further pursued his career as Project Manager in the eLearning Department and now holds the position as Computer Applications Technology(CAT) Subject Advisor in the Overberg Education District. He is primarily responsible for managing CAT in the district and providing teachers with curriculum support. His passion for teaching and improving the lives of children was his inspiration to study in the field of Education and graduated in 2019 with a Masters Degree in Education from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. His research interests are in the South African Education system, academic motivation, the role of education in impoverished communities and technology as a means to enhance teaching and learning.

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