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Insight from Business Day Focus 4.0

The Business Day Focus 4.0 Conference held at the beginning of March this year, aimed at exploring the implications of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) on our economy and society.
The presence of leading Hi-tech companies’ CEOs as keynote speakers and in panel discussions illustrated the importance of this topic to the business world.

Below are my three main takes from the conference:

1. It is not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when” we adapt to the 4IR

According to MD Tech Accenture, Kirstan Sita, 85% of South African companies are vulnerable to future disruption (Accenture research).
One of the reasons companies fail is if they missed, or not responded fast enough, to changes in the market (Prof Bran Armstrong, Wits Business School). The more we delay our adopting to changes, the more we widen the gap.
The challenges of poor infrastructure development and the need for cities to work collaboratively towards the creation of smart cities was alerted by Liquid Telecom CEO Reshaad Sha.
It was reiterated that government has to elevate infrastructure as high priority and enable connectivity (survival need) in an equal distributed manner.

2. Technology is neutral. It is what we do with it that matters

Alison Jacobson from the Field Institute, argued that before looking at digital strategy of the business one needs to look at the business strategy and the specific needs of the business through the customers’ needs. “Do you understand your customers? Only then deploy the technology”. Competitiveness in the market and creating the competitive advantage has to be customer-centric.
Devina Maharaj from Digital Investec Bank recommended “Understand the needs first, than plug the gap with the relevant tech solution”.
According to Prof Brian, there are many reasons to automate. Machines have many advantages over human being. If the first and second industrial revolutions were about ‘machines enhancing power’ the third and fourth industrial revolutions are about ‘machines enhancing human brain power’. We need to stay alert in the wake of the ‘digital vortex’ upon us and be ahead of it.

3. Range of skills are needed for the future workforce

Assaf Luxembourg, Business Development Consultant from Israel, noted that ‘technology changes fast, but culture changes are slower’. He then recommended that each individual see himself/ herself as a ‘business unit’, as the ‘CEO of themselves’ and seek to promote oneself. Adjusting to the dynamic nature of the market he says, is to think as entrepreneur and not as employee (even if you are one).
Dr Tashmia Ismail-Saville, CEO of YES, said that tech skills can be easily taught, the need is to create mechanisms to ensure that resources are available to the youth in all communities as in some of them access is limited.
The real skill needed to adjust to 4IR as noted by Alison are the abilities to identify the problem and use critical problem solving and team work.
We should ask, ‘how do we become the best version of ourselves by using technology’ and plan for our career to ensure relevance for the future.

Be ahead of the 'Digital Vortex'
Be ahead of the ‘Digital Vortex’

Technology integration

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A definition of technology can be taken from any technology curriculum, but what it means to each individual is dependent on ones understanding of technology.

The National Curriculum Statement of South Africa  defines technology as follows: “the use of knowledge, skills and resources to meet people’s needs and wants by developing practical solutions to problems while considering social and environmental factors. “. A definition that follows by Learning outcomes and assessment criteria’s with guidelines for teaching the subject in integrated manner in the foundation phase and as a subject on its own as from Grades 4-9.

Based on three years project that ORT SA conducted at schools in Johannesburg working with teachers in the integration of the subject of technology from Grade R to Grade 7 here are three lessons learnt about good technology integration:

To ensure good technology integration, the following RSA should take place:

1.       Relevancy

2.       Skills

3.       Assessment

 

1.   Relevancy

In Technology we provide solutions to needs, wants or problems.

Have a technology project dealing with REAL needs and REAL problems.

Example: Designing toys to a needy crèche / playschool in your area.

Case study: King David Linksfield Primary Grade 6 learners designed mechanical toys to Mai Mai crèche.  An underprivileged crèche situated in the city of Johannesburg in the midst of a sangoma  village.

Grade 6 learners were invited to the crèche to hand out their handmade toys to the infants at the crèche. It was a truly fascinating experience for both King David learners and the Mai Mai children. The Sangomas from the Mai Mai Village put on a traditional show where they displayed their individual culture. This was then followed by a guided tour of the Mai Mai village.

The King David students and the kids from the crèche bonded instantly. Tiny tots were being passed from person to person for cuddles, interactive games were played, high fives were given all round, counting lessons, and storytelling was the order of the day.

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Grade 6, 12 years old learners have had such a sacred experience that went beyond the technology project and gave a whole different meaning to their school work.

 

2.       Skills

To ensure good integration is taking place, we have to ensure that learners gain skills and knowledge in technology.  Knowledge includes technological design (Design process) using indigenous knowledge and the environment. It covers the three core areas of: Structures, Electrical and mechanical systems and control and Processing of materials. 

To achieve the above when most teachers do not specialize in Technology, the following is adviced:

·         Technology Coordinator at the school ensure that all outcomes and assessment criteria are achieved in each grade

·         Collaborative work amongst the different subject teachers

·         Outsourcing expertise. Example – by inviting Lego experts, food technology experts or by visiting factories or technology labs

 

3.       Assessment

Assessment is the ultimate proof for good integration.

I believe that in order for it to take place a structured syllabus needs to be provided or designed by teachers prior to the beginning of the year.

Please comment: How do you ensure proper assessment is takingg place when integrating technology?