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A different drum - convergence of education, information and education
©Intelligence Magazine
November 1995
by Shirley Fairall
"K-Net looks at your way of learning. I think that's what helps us learn."
Natalie Mat (13) 1995
Graphic project by Natalie Mat (13) 1995

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"You have to make learning appealing and that's the map that the convergence of technology and education are creating for the future."  Jil Hrdliczka
Hrdliczka - and the new age classroom

A different drum

The convergence of education, information and education is leading to a new way of teaching. Jil Hrdliczka gave lessons to Shirley Fairall.

If you ask Jil Hrdliczka about he convergence of education, information and entertainment, be prepared for a few hours of education yourself.

As the founder and managing director of K.Net, Hrdliczka is formidable on the subject of applying information technology tools and entertainment to education.

Hrdliczka started K.Net in December last year after nine years with the Damelin Education Group, seven as a director. Hrdliczka set up the Damelin Computer School and very quickly built it into South Africa's premier computer education facility.

She describes K.Net as a technology network where kids from three learn to make computers work for them. It's a description she's thought through.

"Kids and teenagers love using information technology as a tool to achieve their aims. The concept of multimedia - sound, animation and graphics - has moved us into a new era of education. Multimedia provides all the elements the learning process needs: ease, challenge, reward, repetition, association, retention, deduction, experience, stimulation, speed, adventure ... Above all, it makes learning fun and it makes learning lateral.

"K.Net takes full advantage of every one of these elements. Because the K.Net system teaches kids to use computers as tools and because the love to have such power at their command, much of what they learn is assimilated almost by accident. 

"Kids have no fear of technology. A kid may be learning about a topic which doesn't excite him but the technology excites him and it doesn't take long before the multimedia experience makes the topic come alive.

"The educational value of computer games is not lost on Hrdliczka either. "Most of the games on the market today force kids to work out a strategy before they can advance to the next level. Strategic games require creativity and pattern recognition, yet most kids never even realise that's what they're learning while they play. What other medium actually teaches kids strategy?"

She says this applies to educational software too. "Take an encyclopedia such as Microsoft Encarta. Because the package is based on a comprehensive cross-reference database, you can approach a topic from many different viewpoints, each of which teaches you something different along the way. You come across so much interesting information presented in so many fascinating ways. It's a much more lateral experience than opening a book.

"For example, if you looked up Wales you would see the flag, hear the national anthem, and learn about the country's population, history, politics, religious make up, etc. You would see the culture through such details such as the types of homes the Welsh live in. All of these details are experiences which make the subject come alive. What's more, the experience is instant."

Hrdliczka says that edutainment and infotainment are the words which have real meaning today. "It's not a coincidence that entertainment features in both these words. It's simply a practical manifestation of the convergence of education, information and entertainment. It is human nature that we all learn and retain more when we are entertained and enjoying ourselves."

And this, she says, is going to alter the nature of education forever. "Teachers are going to need to understand how to use multimedia technology, the implications of its place in education and how to harness it.

"One of the major implications is that multimedia has provided the tools for people to retrieve responsibility for their own development. This hasn't even begun to be dealt with yet. In the past, when information was not as easily accessible to individuals as it is today, you had to be an academic or a bookworm to achieve. Now things are different. Teachers of the future will be facilitators."

Hrdliczka believes you can't force learning. You have to make it appealing and that's the map that the convergence of technology and education are creating for the future.

"Undirected, a kid won't necessarily learn anything even if he sits in front of multimedia programs all day. Our role is to direct and focus the multimedia learning process. The concept goes way beyond computerising lesson plans."

Hrdliczka shows me a quote from 13 year old Nathalie Mat to illustrate the point. "K.Net is not like school where you will do everything the way the teacher says. K.Net looks at your way of learning. I think that's what helps us learn."

 
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Date of update: 18 February 2009