Technology giant partners with UCT

30 Jun 2014 - 12:30

Pictured above: architects drawing of the new ETILAB space which has been funded by INTEL Corporation

The UCT School of Education and INTEL South Africa Corporation have embarked on a collaborative partnership to support the University of Cape Town’s Educational Technology Inquiry Lab. Vice President of INTEL Corporation, John Davies travelled from the company’s headquarters in California to attend the launch event, which took place at the university on 26 June 2014.

Established in 2013, the Educational Technology Inquiry Lab (ETILAB) is an initiative of the UCT School of Education designed to facilitate inquiry into educational technology research and pedagogies. ETILAB creates a space for educators and academics to explore best practices in e-learning techniques and to prototype innovative teaching methods for the classrooms of the future. The research hub brings together postgraduate students, academics and educators from across South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world to address the challenges facing education, identifying ways in which low-cost technology can be integrated into teaching solutions to suit local conditions. ETILAB is the brainchild of Professor Dick Ng’ambi (UCT School of Education) who also convenes the postgraduate programme in Educational Technology, which he pioneered in 2007. This new initiative opens doors to educators who are not privileged to attend formal training in teaching with technologies but who want to learn ‘without being taught, and have fun whilst doing so’. 

Pictured left: visitors admire the new innovation space located in the Humanities Building

INTEL Corporation is the world’s largest semiconductor computer chip manufacturer and the inventor of microprocessors used in most personal computers today. The partnership with ETILAB will ensure access to state-of-art technologies for researchers and educators who can ‘play’ with and develop understandings of teaching with these technologies. Described as an education technology ‘sandpit’, the notion of ‘play’ is fundamental to the ethos of ETILAB.  According to Dick, one of the key challenges facing educators in general and teachers in particular is that they do not have time to ‘play’ with technologies and consequently, their understanding of devices is severely limited. For instance, he says that one of the reasons educators do not teach with mobile phones is because they do not understand what and how to do so. “It is difficult to teach with a device which one hardly understands, and understanding is a precursor to innovative pedagogy. This understanding of technologies does not happen in lecture theaters or during a class session, it happens before the class and only technologies that educators are confident about end up being used for teaching. ETILAB fulfills this need” says Dick.

Pictured left: Puleng Makhoalibe (Humanities IT Manager) chats with John Davies (VP,INTEL Corporation)

Thanks to the partnership with INTEL South Africa, UCT’s ETILAB will now be equipped with cutting edge technologies that have the potential to impact the scholarship of teaching and learning across Africa and beyond. Speaking at the launch, Faculty of Humanities IT Manager Puleng Makhoalibe thanked INTEL Corporation for providing a space for creativity and innovation. “Today we are not just launching a computer lab but we are launching academic freedom of experimentation, the freedom to play, to create, to innovate and to make mistakes. I invite thought-leaders, academics and educators nation-wide to utilise this technology sandpit to innovate their pedagogy through technology “ said Puleng.

Future plans for ETILAB include extending the knowledge to a wider forum or community of educators so that new ideas can be incubated and more practitioners can be stimulated. The partnership will ensure that UCT School of Education remains a centre of excellence in educational technology research on the continent.