The aim of the iBox programme is to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning with the goal to produce competent and knowledgeable engineers, doctors and chartered accountants in South Africa. (Image: Bebeto Matthews)
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Melissa Jane Cook
It’s a common sight: the iPad, the iPod, the iPhone, digital devices that hang out of students’ pockets and headphones dangling out of their ears. In keeping with the itheme, Sangari has come up with an educational device that encourages interactivity and is almost as popular as eating an apple.
According to Sangari, its iBox digital portable device transforms any classroom into an interactive space. A durable teaching tool, it offers new levels of curriculum exploration, interactivity and proficiency to the 21st century teacher. The Sangari iBox combines the advances made in computer driven systems, with high-tech presentation facilities, giving teachers an invaluable teaching resource.
Sangari South Africa developed programmes in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or Stem areas, and supplies educational solutions and services to schools, colleges, universities and industrial training centres.
The aim of the iBox programme is to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning with the goal to produce competent and knowledgeable engineers, doctors and chartered accountants in South Africa.
Philip Robinson, the product and sales manager at Sangari South Africa, explains: “At a time when education is suffering, resources are thinly spread and costs are escalating, teachers find themselves forced to teach subjects that are not their specialisation and for which they are not properly equipped.
“There has been a move from ‘teacher-centric’ to ‘learner-centric’ education in an attempt to combat this challenge. It has been researched that learner-driven teaching systems result in greater learner involvement and meaningful classroom interaction.”
The portable iBox offers a solution that turns any urban or rural classroom into an interactive teaching and learning environment. The compact unit can be stored in a safe place, and because it is portable, can be used in almost any environment.
The magic box
They say dynamite comes in small packages and at just the size of a suitcase, the iBox incorporates a projector, laptop, and built-in speakers. When used with its response clickers and mobile interactive whiteboard, the classroom transforms into a multimedia ICT solution for effective and efficient teaching and learning.
Driven by software designed to cover the national curriculum, the iBox projects class notes and other important information about the topics on to a classroom screen. Using a handheld tablet and electronic pen, teachers are able to include additional notes and illustrations which are instantly highlighted for the pupils to see.
The content of the iBox is useful for keeping in line with the curriculum timeline as well as supporting teachers with less knowledge and experience of the given topic. The response clickers are a supplementary component of the iBox. These devices, which look like remote controls, allow teachers to pose questions during the lesson and pupils’ responses are gathered in real-time with a click of a button.
The clicker feature provides immediate feedback and is used to assess the students’ understanding of the lesson. Information from the clicker enables the teacher to identify gaps in learning and revise the lesson accordingly.
Watch how the Sangari iBox and Learner Response Clicker System works:
The iBox and clickers are being used by the Gauteng Department of Education. Gauta Legoete, the department’s co-ordinator for District 8 in Sedibeng West, says the 2009 pass rate in his district was 28%, this improved to 68% in 2013 – which Legoete attributes directly to the use of the iBox and clickers.
“Overall, the iBox has enabled teachers to be better prepared. The clickers used by learners to answer questions takes an enormous load off teachers having to mark test papers after hours and keeps teachers in touch with each learner’s progress,” he says.
In terms of science learning, the Sangari Active Sciences division has developed mobile apparatus kits, curriculum-aligned workbooks, and software for primary and secondary school programmes. These resources were developed to enable teachers and pupils to engage with and learn science anywhere. They are used in government and private schools throughout the country.
“The mobile laboratory encourages and inspires teachers and learners to gain practical experience through curriculum-aligned experiments. Each portable laboratory includes equipment to enable learners to work independently or in groups,” Robinson explains.
Compared to setting up a traditional laboratory, the mobile laboratory is cost effective and is designed to store chemicals and apparatus safely. Practical experiments make use of small quantities of chemicals, resulting in less wastage and easy disposal. Little storage space is needed and the unit is lockable.
Included in the Sangari Active Sciences Mobile Lab are practical workbooks that explain the assembly of the apparatus and guide pupils through the investigation. They are able to work through the questions and are guided to make scientific claims built on their evidence. The assessment questions are aligned to the outcomes of the lesson and ensure higher-order thinking skills.
The origins of interaction
The e-learning directorate in the Gauteng Department of Education procured nine Sangari South Africa iBoxes for underperforming schools in Johannesburg Central, Sedibeng West and Ekurhuleni South districts. Their provision is in accordance with the 2014 Strategic Plan and the e-Learning Strategic Goal to “move ICTs into the classroom”.
The selected schools are from a list of those deemed to be underperforming, with pass rates being below 40% in accounting, mathematics, physical sciences and English first additional language. The iBoxes, with content in mathematics, physical sciences and life sciences, was intended to provide these schools with additional materials to support learning in those primary subjects and to allow teachers and pupils to experience innovative technologies at school.
Sangari South Africa
Sangari is a supplier of educational resources to schools, colleges, universities and industrial training centres. These resources cover equipment and training for science and technology at school level and technical and engineering programmes at colleges and universities.
The company also partners with educational institutions to provide services to third parties. This gives it the ability to develop and run training programmes custom made for its clients in the fields of science, engineering and management.