Equip leaders for the future with Turnitin

While Turnitin is a familiar anti-plagiarism tool within the tertiary education sector, it also has its role to play within secondary education. Using Turnitin at this level helps to cultivate literacy skills in learners, while providing the necessary tools that support best practice. In essence, Turnitin sets learners up for success in school and beyond. Bishops Diocesan College recently implemented Turnitin at their school. We checked in with them to learn how Turnitin is helping to equip leaders for the future.

Bishops ICT Programme

A few years ago, Bishops  College adopted a one-on-one laptop programme. This involves Grades 9 through to 12, where each boy is required to bring a working laptop to class daily. All users have access to a robust network and wifi for internet access. The boys also have access to all teaching content and resources through a customised LMS.

Why implement Turnitin

Turnitin was implemented into the school’s ICT Programme to address the frequency of internal plagiarism amongst the boys, i.e. copying assignments from one year to the next and across classes. Bishops is rolling implementation out in phases.  The initial focus involves concentrating on Grades 10 to 12, specifically in Life Orientation and Business Studies.

Features and benefits of Turnitin

The school is using Turnitin to educate Bishop’s boys about plagiarism. Teachers guide them on how Turnitin can be used to generate similarity reports while teaching them the necessary skills to cite their assignments correctly. Alongside this, the programme is guiding them through research processes, internet research skills, and the ethics around plagiarism.

Feedback from Bishops

“We are about to get our Grade 12 boys to submit their final LO assignments through Turnitin and have no doubt that the benefits of Turnitin will become very apparent to both boys and teachers alike. We believe that we would be doing our boys an injustice by not introducing them to Turnitin before university and feel obliged to equip them properly for their tertiary education.”

Ultimately, Turnitin is about more than plagiarism. Through a process of constant feedback, Turnitin helps improve writing skills, while fostering critical thinking skills and creative writing skills. As a result, students gain confidence in their authentic writing style, equipping them for their future.

Find out more here.

 

Are our schools preparing our learners for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The 1st of December marks the start of a quick countdown to the end of the year. For the Matrics of 2018, it also means the start of a new beginning. As Matric exam papers are being marked, many are waiting for the results to see where the next year will take them. While others already know where and what they will be studying, barring a big dip in their marks, many have no idea what they will do tomorrow. But the burning question is, are the learners of today prepared for what their future holds? Have they learnt the necessary skills to be prepared for the 4th Industrial revolution and the new skills and challenges the workplace would bring?

Key to the 4th Industrial Revolution is the reality that the youth of today will no longer start a career path and grow in one role. In fact, futurists predict that roles will change regularly. With automation and robotics redefining the need for humans in the workplace, individuals will have to adjust and find manners to be of value – in ways that machines cannot.

Graham Brown-Martin, the author of Learning {Re}imagined, explains that there are three key areas where humans are, and always will be, superior to machines. These key characteristics include creative endeavours, social interaction and physical dexterity & mobility. The question, therefore, is whether our schools are preparing our youth to apply these key characteristics in the workplace one day, along with the digital skills needed to face the future. This seems far removed from the rigid schooling system where the testing of knowledge is based on one-way learning and repetition.

According to Glenn Gillis, MD of Sea Monster, our schools have been using the right buzzwords when it comes to preparing South Africa for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  But in reality, where a large percentage of schools do not even have access to basic sanitary facilities, it is difficult to see how these schools will have the tools to achieve what is needed.

It is quite evident that great changes are needed to improve our Education system so that we can have learners who leave matric with the skills they need to face the future. Starting with bridging the gap between schools, but even more so changing perspectives on what teaching means.

As Mr Gillis explains, it is teaching and learning that is unique to humans too. It is the personal nature of the interaction between teacher and learner – where a teacher can speak to a learner’s talents, encourage his/her strengths and skills and adjust to a learner’s unique learning needs. In his book Future Shock (1970), Alvin Toffler states that, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”.

Perhaps what we need to understand most of the role our schools need to play in preparing learners for the future, is the importance of developing their emotional intelligence. Shaping their minds to understand how to acquire new skills and apply these skills, how to solve problems creatively and how to unlearn or relearn when they need to.

Sources:

https://www.weforum.org/about/jobs-and-the-fourth-industrial-revolution

https://medium.com/learning-re-imagined/education-and-the-fourth-industrial-revolution-cd6bcd7256a3

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2018-11-26-sas-education-system-needs-a-radical-overhaul-for-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/?utm_source=homepagify

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How dashboards help you – one decision at a time

In 2018 data is worth gold. Data is the key to making informed decisions, instead of going with your gut only, we now have statistics and information that can guide our most important goals and plans for the future. This is especially true for higher education institutions. But data is only valuable when analysed. Otherwise, it is just a series of meaningless numbers and letters.

So why do some institutions still not harness the data they collect to make the most optimal decisions? The answer is simple – processes! No matter how seamlessly data is collected, if information systems do not have processes that automate data interpretation, analytics and reporting remains cumbersome and often avoided or reduced to underwhelming results. This is where dashboards come in…they literally can help you one decision at a time.

Dashboards are nothing more than data visualisation tools. But when customised and configured to show the data, metrics or Key Performance Indicators you need, they become so much more!

One source

Dashboards combine all data into one source of information.  Rather than trying to pull up information from 100s of different exported spreadsheets, with the right information system and dashboard you have the ability to integrate different data sheets and analyse trends. What this means in practice, is that compiling reports has suddenly become easier and more efficient at the same time. Looking through high volumes of data on spreadsheets and trying to find trends to report on could take months, but now you can use dashboards to pull together information and spot trends within a shorter space of time.

On real-time

Dashboards do not have to wait for you to instruct on pulling reports. You can schedule for daily reports to be compiled and visualise data for you. Regular reports mean you stay in touch with real-time information. This not only saves you time but minimises the chance for human error when it comes to making decisions.

It’s in the details

With spreadsheets, it is challenging to set up filters so that you can effectively drill down to underlying information. With layers and layers of complex data, you may be relieved to find that dashboards can work from one detailed layer at a time. Choose how much detail you want to see at a time and pinpoint if and why any data looks strange.

In short, if your institution has evolved to using Information Management Systems, but you do not have configurable dashboards that help you visualise your information – it is time to change. No matter what system you are using, dashboards could save you time, money and ultimately can make the difference in how accurately you interpret and apply the data at hand.

Academia SIS offers a Student Information System with dynamic, adaptable dashboards that can be configured to suit your analytic needs.

Contact us for innovative technological solutions that enable your institution to excel.

How to streamline your examination processes

Exams are stressful for students! But probably even more so for lecturers and staff members.  For examinations to run smoothly, there are processes that need to be followed. Several channels of communication are pulled into these processes, and ultimately, there should be a central point where these processes are managed. If any of the links in the chain is broken, examinations will be disrupted. An automated examination process can streamline examination management, ensuring efficient processes.

Student Information Systems like Academia SIS, offer an examination module that covers all the activities relevant to examination management. It covers the enrollment process, examination forms, eases the processing of results and even prints out certificates. With analytical features, the examination module also generates statistical reports. The module helps with setting up an exam table too and allows for the creation of test papers and even handles logistics like allocating invigilators to specific exams and venues.

The best part of Academia’s examination module is that it is not an isolated feature. As this is part of the SIS, the module links to the student database, which means it becomes seamless to pull up any information regarding the student. Simply by filling out an identification number on the enrolment form, examination results are directly connected to the student’s profile.

This module offers a  systemic workflow for managing examinations from start to finish. It literally offers help from pre-examination setup to assessment and marks to pulling up different reports.

 

Image Source: Academia ERP – Examination Management Module

When your examination processes are automated, you streamline all functions, saving you time and energy. It also reduces the need to duplicate work and prevents errors. The automation process allows you to monitor a student’s progress more efficiently, which improves learning outcomes. Through simplifying the exam process, there are less manual processes, as well as less paper! And not only is the process simplified, but it is also more secure – with settings that authorise unique users to access certain levels, meaning sensitive information data is protected.

Interested? Contact us for a demo on the Academia’s various modules and learn how this SIS can streamline your processes.

How to prepare students for the 21st Century workplace

In 2018, we can safely say we are no longer on the brink of a technological revolution, but part of it. Known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, this is the new industrial era where technologies fuse to blur the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres. What this means for the future of today’s’ graduates is uncertain. What roles will they need to fulfil and how will their studies equip them for the unknown? 

While there is no one correct answer, there are ways to prepare today’s students for the 21st Century Workplace.  In the learning environment this would include developing the core skills students will need to adjust to the new workforce challenges, known as the four C’s: Communication (acquire the skill to explain ideas), Critical Thinking (learn how to solve problems), Creativity (applied thinking that is outside the box) and Collaboration (understanding how to work with others effectively).  

But besides developing these skills, there should be practical support for the transition from graduating to working. Jeff Selingo is an expert on the topic of preparing students for this new dynamic work working environment.  Author of the New York Times best-selling book “There is life after college,’ Jeff Sellingo was a keynote speaker at Symplicity’s CSM Symposium this year. Here he shared very specific points on how to prepare students for the 21st Century workforce. His recommendations for preparing students for jobs of the future included increasing access to employment opportunities, provision of hands-on vocational training and helping students to develop a career narrative. A more in-depth discussion of these points follows below: 

Increase accessibility to career services from the start 

“We really need, as institutions, to start treating career services as the next big student amenity. We need to treat it like we do student success and retention efforts, and spend the amount of money and effort on it that we’ve done on student retention over the last couple of years.” 

Students attend a higher education institute to get a job one day. This means it is essential that career centers at these institutions guide students toward the careers that will be fulfilling. For students to get a better idea of what type of job they would enjoy, they need to gain experience in various fields. It is also important for students to learn how to sell their strengths in the best way possible, to potential employers. Career services are the perfect resource for career guidance, resume building, internships, job opportunities, and salary expectations. If students learn to identify their needs early on in their studies, they can start making the right decisions sooner, achieving their goals faster. 

Provide hands-on vocational training

“It’s not about picking a career at that young age but it’s about exposing students to the options available to them and the pathways that lead to those jobs. That’s the key to integrating career planning from day one.” 

While a formal education will always be the main focus for higher learning institutions, it is important to expose students to multiple skills before they enter the workforce. This should not just be part of their qualification requirements, adding credits to modules to tick off, but also about gaining knowledge from real-life situations. Yes, students can follow a syllabus and complete hands-on tasks to pass, but learning from day-to-day experiences should be a stand-alone exercise with no credit awards. Career planning at an early age is extremely important, so students are exposed to what suits them and what doesn’t. 

 Help students develop their career narratives

“We need to help students craft their story so that they are able to articulate their skills and how these could transfer to a job.” 

CV’s are important, but being able to elaborate on what those bulleted items on a CV in an interview situation are crucial. Students should know how to share more about their work experiences, explain what skills they’ve developed and how they can apply those skills to the position they are applying for. A candidate should be able to tell their own personal story, explaining where they come from and where they see themselves in five years. 

Symplicity CSM can help career centers at higher institutions achieve these goals. Symplicity CSM offers the tools to connect skilled students with potential employers. It further gives departments the ability f to ‘talk’ to each other and ultimately helps students find value and relevance in their studies and increases the employment success rate of institutions.  

Want to understand how Symplicity CSM can work for your institution? Get in touch with us for a demonstration. 

Key benefits of a cloud-based SIS 

Deciding on a Student Information System is no small feat. While it can change management processes for the better, there are various factors to take into consideration. The system helps institutions manage student data – from registering students to documenting grading and assessments and communicating across the board. The system also provides a central point where all information is collected and processed.  

One of the major questions institutions have is whether to store this information/data on an institutional server or in the cloud. With security being a concern no the one hand, as well as ‘space’ to store data. While hosting on a local server may seem like the ‘safer’ options, there are various advantages to opting for a cloud host. According to Serosoft Solutions, 62% of the higher education IT leaders say cloud is vital to their institutional future competitiveness and reduced cost with an average saving of 21%. Here are a few key benefits of a cloud-based SIS.  

Virtual Space 

A big advantage of hosting data with a cloud service provider is space. Access to more space means that institutions can handle higher volumes of inquiries and admissions. This reflects directly on the performance of the institution. 

Saving Costs 

From an operational perspective, there are clear financial benefits to host data on a cloud-based server.  From the outset, opting for a SIS based hosted on a cloud server saves an institution in capital expenses, from equipment cost to human resources, as well as on-premises deployment. Institutions can also save on infrastructure costs, as storage of servers requires a specific environment and security. Servers may also require on-site visits by IT technicians, maintenance and on-site upgrades. The cloud allows for easy access to upgrades, is instantly scalable and users can be added or removed as needed at the click of a few buttons.

Security 

While the perception could be there that the cloud is not as secure as a server room, it has actually become the better option when it comes to security. Security used to mean locking a server room or implementing long passwords, but today it means protecting data 24/7. Using a reputable cloud-based service provider warrants better security. Each aspect of a SIS needs to be protected with a holistic approach to minimise natural, human or technical disruptions. With the cloud-based server, these considerations are a given. 

Ease of access 

The cloud allows for immediate sharing of information and operating systems across the institution. It offers instant visibility, a standardised administrative process and the opportunity to roll out any changes across the board immediately.  

From user experience, institutions have had challenges with regards to data maintenance or management on their own data center. That is why a cloud server with data backup offers a solution that can benefit an institution on every level. Academia SIS offers the option of cloud base operations and therefore Institutions are able to optimise the application of their resources, increase productivity and profitability.  

Why not contact us today to learn how Academia SIS can help your institution save time and resources, increase the security of data and enable efficiency – whether through cloud-based servers or optimised integration with your LMS.   

 

Cultural diversity and online learning

South Africa is home to a diversity of cultures and languages. It is this heritage that creates both the richness and complexity within our country. With 11 official languages, the Education sector is greatly influenced by our diversity. Our cultures influence the patterns of education. But with such a massive range of cultures, the question is how do we overcome barriers that come with cultural diversity when it comes to teaching. Certainly, language is only one aspect of these barriers.

With the gradual shift to blended and online education, the technology could potentially play a role to proactively overcome some of these challenges.

Collaborative learning

While learning online does not always allow for physical interaction, there is an opportunity for social interaction that should not be ignored. In fact, when implemented proactively, online collaboration can bring students together and help them overcome barriers.

To promote collaboration, plan classes so that learners must contribute to the eClassroom environment. Also, make use of collaborative tools and have learners work in groups to study together.

Familiarisation

The nature of eLearning means learners from different backgrounds and different learning environments may end up on the same course. This means the way learners learn will vary, exposure to course material will differ and assessment style could also be different. A good way to overcome these different approaches is to offer practice exams or mock assessments. Create a set of mock exams so that learners can familiarise themselves with different styles. This offers exposure to different styles of learning and creates a common ground for learners to interact with each other.

Language barriers

With 11 official languages, South Africa’s learning institutions often deal with language barriers. While online classes or group discussions may be difficult to follow while live, online platforms have recordings. These recordings mean students can access lectures or talks after the live event and listen to parts that they struggled with. With study groups set up, learners also can discuss the points they missed or struggled to interpret. So, while online courses are usually delivered in one preferred or official language, there are opportunities for learners to overcome language barriers through repetition or support.

eCulture

Different backgrounds and cultures determine one’s values and experiences. Stepping out from cultural comfort zones opens one up to learn about other cultures and in doing so cross boundaries. But learning online calls for a new cultural adjustment. A virtual learning environment with different rules, values, and terms – adjusting to an eCulture. While this cultural adjustment could be seen as a barrier, adjusting offers an opportunity for learners to apply their analytical intelligence and creates a space for a common interest.

While diverse cultures could create barriers to eLearning, there are also opportunities for learners to overcome these barriers, adjust and learn new experiences. The best way to achieve this is to fully utilise collaboration opportunities by using the online learning tools available efficiently.

Let us help you find and implement the correct tools for your online and blended learning courses.

Staffroom: Making life a little easier for those who inspire

“There is nothing wrong, with getting it wrong…you learn so much more through the process.” Wendy Horn, Global Teacher Prize Nominee 2018 

Inspiration comes in all shapes and forms. Many of us would agree that we had that one teacher who influenced us to set life goals and achieve our best. That one teacher who made us pursue our tertiary studies or who pushed us to achieve more than we knew we could in school. And for many, Wendy Horn is this teacher. It is therefore no wonder that this school principal and science teacher from Protea Heights Academy, was recently nominated for the Global Teacher Prize (February 2018). This means Wendy Horn is recognised as one of the top 50 teachers in the world! 

Speaking about her passion, Wendy explains that educators can “shape the future.” For Wendy, being a teacher is a calling, “when you stand in front of that class, those children must be your everything.” She adds that “the school, through the innovative use of technology, is preparing learners to be creative problem solvers that will be able to make a positive contribution to society in the future.” As part of their strategy and digital toolkit, Protea Heights Academy uses Staffroom Software. We asked her to share her experience with Staffroom Software: 

How would you explain to a friend what Staffroom Sofware does? 

“It makes data sharing, reporting and communication easy. It also cuts down on the workload of educators and administrators.” 

What were your processes like before using Staffroom Software? 

“Time-consuming and cumbersome. We also found errors creeping into the data and the processing of data was frustrating!” 

How does Staffroom Software improve your processes? 

“The product saves time. We are able to work from any place that has an internet connection. It also speeds up processes, allows us to collaborate and share data seamlessly.” 

Is Staffroom Software worth the investment? 

Yes, we save time! It makes the workload less per educator. We can communicate easily with parents and learners. Staffroom allows us to share data so that we can analyse our performance and suggest suitable intervention strategies.  We also cut down on the use of paper and files and can share information effortlessly. The digital archive allows us to store marks, reports and learner information which means we can share these documents with every staff member, as well as parents. Without Staffroom I would ‘freak out’ – it would be as if we were back in the dark ages and would mean more work!” 

Define teacher and learner success?

Wendy’s approach to teaching is not about imparting knowledge only. Wendy explains, “We are preparing our learners for the fourth Industrial revolution, which means learners will have many jobs as they progress through their lives…” She humbly adds, “Children don’t need teachers for information, for that they have Google. They need us to teach them skills and to guide them.” This is why Wendy believes it is important to teach learners how to problem solve.  

According to Wendy, Staffroom Software adds to the success of her team, “it adds to our brand in that we communicate with parents effectively. It allows educators to work smartly and saves time. The product allows easy and effective data analysis. It just makes the admin a little bit easier – which in turn means we can use our time more efficiently.” 

We are proud to know that Protea Heights Academy has found a digital solution in Staffroom Software! One that makes inspirational teachers like Wendy Horn’s life a little easier!  

Interested in learning more? Contact us for a demo or learn more here

Student Information Systems: Simple solutions to complex problems 

Student Information Systems: Offering simple solutions to complex problems 

The birth of the Internet set the course for the technological advances that we see unfolding today. Not only has technology leapt in development, it is also completely intermingled with every practicality of our lives. It is therefore not surprising that these changes have had an immense impact on the Education Sector. One of the changes we’ve seen over the past decade is a shift to automation of management of Institutions.  

The ease of communication along with access to valuable information has become the heart of management for most institutions. This means SIS is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for most 21st Century Education Institutions.

Student information systems like Academia help institutions manage various departments, sub-departments and even multi-locational institutions successfully. Here are some areas where Academia can offer simple solutions to complex problems. 

Goodbye to manual paperwork 

Manual paperwork is a given when it comes to managing an institution. Administrative staff spend most of their time on repetitive and time-consuming tasks. With an SIS, these tasks are automated, making it easier. It also saves valuable time and makes the process more seamless. 

Registration made simple 

Automation of registration means that students no longer queue on registration day. Students can now pay fees, enrol for courses and process registration via an online system.  

Smooth Admissions  

An SIS allows institutions to manage the entire admission process, start to finish. With an automated system, institutions can manage campaigns, handle enquiries, send out follow-ups and reach admission targets efficiently. 

Manage and evaluate courses 

Create and manage course material for different programmes via the SIS. Define lesson plans for courses, map faculties to different courses and assign topics to faculties. Homework assignments, examinations and evaluation are all tasks that can easily be managed while using minimal resources. 

Communicate with ease 

Easily communicate between users with internal notifications, e-mails and SMS. Connect students, teachers and administrative staff with a central communication system. 

Manage big data and student info

Student information is available at the touch of a button. With real-time monitoring, management can track student activities from attendance to performance. The automated process makes it easy to manage student profiles.

Collect and manage fees 

Collecting fees is no easy task.  All students do not have the same fee structures and keeping track of payments manually can be cumbersome. An automated system means it is easy to keep track of fees efficiently. At the touch of a button, the history of payments and information on outstanding fees are available. Management can immediately see what needs to be paid and what services are owed to students.

Real-Time Decision Making

Access to data in real-time means management can make an informed decision, with reporting that processes big data to manageable information sets.

Interested to see how Academia SIS can simplify your Institutions complex problems? Visit our website to learn more or book a demo.

Celebrating women in Education: Clare Reilly 

A group of women demonstrating during the march on 9 August 1956. Image: Twitter 

South Africa celebrated its first National Women’s Day in 1995. This day was declared a holiday as part of the remembrance of all women who united as one voice on 9 August 1956. Their motivation? To protest the norm, to speak up against injustice and to show the power of joining hands to do so. Today we celebrate this day in remembrance of these brave women, but also all brave women who have made a difference and are still contributing to positive change in our society.  

With Women’s Day in mind, we are celebrating women in Education. Those who strive to make a difference through their work within the Education sector. Through their daily contributions, they inspire us to be the best we can be, no holds barred. And where better to start than at home! Eiffel Corp’s Sales and Marketing Manager and creative brain of our team – Clare Reilly. 

Clare Reilly – Sales and Marketing Manager at Eiffel Corp

Clare has been with Eiffel Corp for half a decade! Motivated by her interest in the world of educational technology, she ventured into unchartered territory to learn about and understand the impact of technology on education.  

She found her passion in the opportunities Education offers in reaching one’s potential, “Education is the door to opportunity, without this foundation a person will never know what they are capable of and can achieve.” 

While working within the digital world, Clare enjoys working with people, especially meeting new people and teaching them about this fascinating sector. Driving thought leadership through Eiffel Corp resonates with her, with the hope of making a “small” difference in the world. 

And this difference is clearly visible through the impact of Eiffel Corp’s products has had on the clients Clare has worked with over the years. “In my time I have seen numerous lecturers and teachers become champions in the digital learning sector and engaging students in ways they never thought possible.” 

As a woman in a leadership role, Clare believes it should be a priority to empower and teach young girls of today. 

“We need to band together support and empower one another. Education is a gift that no one should be without…”