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