The quest to produce our own technological icons like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and make Zimbabwe the technological powerhouse not just of Africa but of the world lies in implementing e-learning at the kindergarten age. “Catch them young” is the catch word. That is the gist of this column. This column will work towards promoting and encouraging across the board extensive use of e-learning in schools for the benefit of teachers and learners through well researched informative articles.
The column will tackle the subject from two intertwined angles which are e-learning as in computer education and e-learning as a learning aid all in the hope of helping teachers to come up with the best product that can compete at the global stage.
Computer education is very important to children as it facilitates growth of several facets of child development.
These include intelligence (IQ), emotional intelligence (EQ), fluid intelligence and novelty, hand eye co-ordination, skills development, mathematical abilities, social development, among others.
These are the basic skills that breed programmers and graphic designers. In the long term children who become skilled in computer operation at tender age will be easy to empower with life surviving skills as computers are now part and parcel of our every days lives.
Their economic future will be secured. Zimbabwe might have an agriculture based economy but it’s a fact that technology now transcends into all fields. Farmers worldwide have computerised their operations from weather forecasts, planting to financial management.
The implementation of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) biased curriculum by the ministry of primary and secondary education at Early Childhood Development level which is starting 2017 is a step in the right direction.
The current ECD syllabus clearly states a child should be able to name basic computer components, switch on and off a computer, select computer programmes using keyboard and mouse, use computer to play games, draw, paint and print, identify and match colours on the
computer, make patterns on the computer, observe safety when operating equipment, among other activities.
However, few schools are implementing this noble initiative. Researches, point that of the ECD centres that claim to offer computer studies 90 percent are just paying lip service as a marketing gimmick. In most cases computer lessons are limited to naming of computer parts.
A further 5 percent offer haphazard computer games without any consideration of what the syllabus recommends. No proper planning, teaching and evaluation is carried out. Nothing is mentioned in the child’s progress report.
Although computer education is vital and justifiable, there are several factors that affect the acceptance and teaching of computer education in ECD centres.
These include, the age group, resources, lack of trained teachers, scarcity of information and age appropriate programmes.
On e-learning as a learning aid, it has been scientifically proved that children learn using their senses. In learning it is generally assumed that sense of sight accounts for about 75 percent, hearing 13 percent and others senses account for the remainder.
Simply put a child who watches a video of trumpeting elephant gets a clearer and lasting image than a child who has seen a still picture of an elephant. Why? Reason is simple – it is because there is combination of both audio and visual element. It is easier for the child to then imitate how the elephant walks, eat, drinks water or trumpet.
E-learning helps children to develop holistically what we call PIES. Physically there is hand eye co-ordination and fine motor skills (finger dexterity as they control mouse and type on keyboard) Intellectually clear images are formed and Improves their problem solving capabilities through games and puzzles.
Emotionally e-learning motivates and helps them to develop persistence in working, gives them joy when winning, challenges them to soldier on. Socially e-learning helps children Interaction and cooperation among the children through turns taking.
Feedback: Shepherd Chimururi (Executive Director — Dzidzo Inhaka Audio Visual Learning); Mobile – 0772 608 276 Tel: 04 749 302; e-mail: [email protected], [email protected]; website: www.dzidzoinhaka.co.zw