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Deidre Hulett, Group IT Manager for the Ashton International Colleges Group

My story starts at Seaforth College in Ballito

We opened our doors with 62 pupils in 2002. Every day we enrolled new pupils. We needed a learning programme that would allow pupils to work in their lesson, and not worry about having missed the lessons or term’s work beforehand.

We had 7 teachers, none of which were confident in saving their own files, yet the Head expected these teachers to deliver computer literacy confidently to the pupils, while having fun!

Having previously worked with the founder and Managing Director of Knowledge Network, while we were at Damelin Computer School, I called her for advice. Within a month, we were up & running on the Knowledge Network® Progressive Learning Programme.

The progressive learning programme is an age appropriate, project-based programme supported by a learning methodology (ILAMM®), lesson plans, educational software and training for teachers.

It can be used with most computer systems and tablets.

From Grd 04 – Grd 12, the programme also includes marking schedules, skills assessments, year-end assessments, plus certificates of successful completion for those who score 70%.

The purpose of the learning programme is for learners to learn how to use computer technology as a tool for school work, for life and learning. This includes using smart phones and tablets – devices of the day.

School and social issues such as plagiarism, copyright infringement, standard of research content, cyberbulling, staying safe online and maintaining a positive online image are also covered well and with results.

Another cool aspect of the programme is the e-learning extensions for every lesson – these can be done using books, magazines or the Internet.

E-Learning extensions complement government curriculums for the grades and learning areas but are sufficiently different to keep kids interested and excited about the topics.

A much-loved e-learning extension question for one of the space projects is – What does space smell like?

E-Learning extensions provide kids with extra general knowledge, extra vocab and extra fun things to do which benefit them generally at school and at home.

My kids loved the programme. They were able to use their knowledge to achieve something, make something and use their knowledge to do work (for my son using his knowledge from the Knowledge Network programme to score higher points in other learning areas was a huge bonus!).

Kids get to achieve something instead of only using the computer for games.

We currently run the programme from Gr 00, through Grades 1 – 3, 4 – 7, ending this year after grades 8 & 9.

I have personally taught Knowledge Network® to grades 00 – 12 in our school. The Grade 12 KN In-school programme makes kids workplace-ready or varsity-ready.

Last year’s exam for Grd 12 was a management report including a table of contents, figures, references, charts, research, presentation slides, opinions and conclusions.

For kids not doing CAT, the Knowledge Network In-school diploma is a critical component for survival at varsity and getting into the workplace.

Our school has now grown to 1121 pupils. Since we became Ashton International College Ballito, we have employed 3 teachers to work with me.

Teachers love this programme. It gives them structure, freedom to use their own ideas while maintaining a sound educational base.

Kids love it so the whole programme becomes self-energising.

The biggest plus of all is that all teachers with interest and a good attitude can do this.

All lessons are delivered using a proprietary learning methodology that enables:

Accelerated learning, with the simultaneous development of: IT skills, Creativity, Lateral thinking & learning, Logic, Problem-solving ability, Life skills, Coping skills, Listening, Concentration, Memory skills, Memory skills, Research, Research, Planning, Time management

Each teacher who is going to present the Knowledge Network progressive learning programme is required to attend the compulsory integrated learning and mentoring methodology. This is part of the fees that the schools pay to Knowledge Network.

Teaching training events are generally held 6 times during the year which reduces lesson prep time. This ensures that the teacher is confident to deliver the lessons and that Knowledge Network is happy that the teachers can handle the content in their school information technology infrastructures and learners can achieve the highest possible standard.

All pupils from Grade 4 – 12 write an external examination, and this is to ensure the standards are met in each grade each year, and that there is progression from one grade to another.

One of our past Mums, whose two children left our school, due to being relocated, even took up the challenge with Knowledge Network to train her two children on the Knowledge Network Progressive Learning Programme as their new school did not offer this.

The highlight of the week at Ashton International College in Ballito for pupils from grade 4 – 7 is the Knowledge Network-based Club Session.

On Thursday a 10 year old girl’s dad came to fetch her 20 minutes early – she went on her hands and knees begging him to wait another 20 minutes. Such is the enjoyment of a Knowledge Network lesson at the Ashton Campuses.

While teaching on Wednesday, I was watching each pupil at work in my Grade 8 lesson. They have had just 4 hours of lessons this year, as we see them only once a week.

Each screen showed a different project outcome. Each pupil was expressing their own creativity, but within the parameters of the project brief for that session, and each was working at their own pace, managing their own time and applying new skills taught at the start of the lesson. Every pupil was engrossed in their own work.

In closing, what I want to suggest to all of the heads here today is this:

Identify a passionate teacher, who will drive this programme in your school. Give Knowledge Network a call to engage with them.

I manage this programme in our school.

I have Ashton teachers who report to me and I deliver the KZN-based integrated learning methodology courses.

I am passionate about this programme because it works.

We have used it for 13 years at Ashton. As Group IT Manager for the Ashton Group, I introduced this last year to our school in Benoni.

All of our Ashton pupils from Grd 00 to 8 at our Ballito and Benoni Campuses are able to use computers and devices as a tool for learning.

It is thanks to Knowledge Network for enabling this for me, the teachers who work to me, the parents who see their kids’ achievements and the learners at Ashton International Colleges.

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