Learning together, working together
In conversation with ...
 
Release date 1999
   
Jil Hrdliczka
Managing Director

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In conversation with .... Jil
You recently established a knowledge exchange programme with leading educators in top Australian schools. How will this benefit the learners in South Africa and Australia?
"Let me start off with an introduction to our visit to Australia.

Knowledge Network visited Australia to establish a relationship / partnership with leading Australian schools and to gather information about how children and teenagers around the world are being equipped with the skills they need for life in the information / knowledge age. The information gathered will be presented at an international conference in 2000.

I met with leading educators in Australia and we have established a knowledge exchange programme between learners and educators in top Australian schools and  Knowledge Network Partner Schools in South Africa.

The knowledge exchange programme forms a small part of the International Associate Schools Programme.

Young people leaving school today are entering a business environment which involves digital communication and negotiation. Further, many young people will work in groups / teams spanning different countries. These young people may never meet their team members, except via email, net meetings and video conferencing.

It is therefore important that these young people are equipped with the skills - computer and life skills - needed to cope in this type of business environment.

In addition, they will need to be able to manage knowledge relating to different projects / tasks in different countries with different laws, different social structures and environments, different values, business rules, understanding / interpretation of international languages and business etiquette.

The only way to equip these young people effectively is to establish a learning environment which simulates the real business world they are set to inherit - to develop them for their role as knowledge workers in a knowledge age."

What does the programme involve?
"Communication between learners and educators, participation as team players in joint projects involving learners from different countries, (collaborative working), working together with learners in the same country on projects for learners in other countries, international competitions, participation in international conferences (live and via video conferencing), participation in local and international technology-related events."
How do you see this being implemented in schools in South African and Australia? What time frames are you looking at?
The implementation will take place in different phases. The first phase, which involved the selection of associate schools in Australia, took place in November 1999.

Working with the educators in Australia was inspiring, they played an important role in assisting us in establishing a connection between Australian and South African schools in a relatively short time. Schools in Australia are in the process of being partnered with schools in South Africa.

Phase 2 involves establishing structured, directed and focused  communication between the learners and educators in schools that have been selected as partners in the programme. Partners have been selected based on their technology and ethos. Phase 2 also involves the introduction of international competitions and events.

Phase 3 involves joint projects and conferences. The implementation of all three phases should be completed by mid-year."

What was your impression of the Australian learning environment? 
"I was inspired by the learning environment in Australia. It was a privilege to spend time with the principals, educators and learners in the various schools in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. The uniqueness of the learning environment in each of the schools and campus-like 'vibe' was impressive.

Very young learners displayed a confidence, maturity, responsibility, respect and pride which I have not experienced in all the schools I have visited.

In some South African schools, confidence, responsibility, and respect for each other and the learning environment is still being developed. This needs to be developed fairly quickly if learners want to be successful in a world without borders.

Although learning opportunities exist on the Internet for learners to acquire skills and knowledge on their own, educators, a new approach to learning and interaction with people as well as technology will ultimately determine how today's learners are equipped emotionally, spiritually and mentally for success in life. The role of educators/mentors in the development of creativity, lateral thinking, logic, life skills and in building confidence in learners should never be underestimated."

Some schools have linked up as sister schools across countries. From our research, not all joint projects have been successful or have continued over a long period. How do you see your programme changing this?
"The infrastructure to support a knowledge exchange programme and the development of knowledge workers is key to the success of the programme.

Communication, negotiation, meeting the needs of the educators and learners involved, and the dissemination of information is often neglected. A programme such as this takes many people out of their comfort zone and this needs to be approached with a sensitivity and understanding of the current needs, fears and ideas of those involved.

The loss of focus, direction and motivation to take individual projects to completion in an agreed time frame appears to have been a difficulty in some of the failed projects we have researched.

Our role is to manage the programme, ensure that all projects / events are learner-centred and involve educators in the different schools.

The infrastructure we have established for this programme takes care of the problems you have addressed."

 

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Date of update: 14 July 2010            Individual page updates: 14 July 2010