Saide Current Awareness
29 May 2023


Distance Education

  • Closing the loop in distance education using generative AI  Source: TEDxTalks Dr. Ashwin Gopinath an Assistant Professor at MIT, working at the intersection of CMOS nanofabrication, molecular self-assembly, biology and machine learning, delivers a talk on using 'educational videos as well as other videos and to use them as seeds to train tailored chatbots so that individuals can not only watch the videos but also talk to it in near real-time to emulate the feeling of really connecting with the content."
  • Report of 5th IDEA Monthly Online Virtual Meeting Source: Academic Papers Blog A blog post on highlights of the Indian Distance Education Association Virtual meeting which was entitled “Generative AI and Implications for Open Online and Distance Education” and  keynote delivered by Dr Ramesh Sharma, Director, HRDC, Dr Ambedkar University, New Delhi, who is a well known scholar in the field of Open Distance Learning.  


Education: South Africa 

  • Gauteng Department of Education announces 2023/24 budget plans Source: IOL Gauteng MEC of Education Matome Chiloane has revealed priorities that the department will focus on for the 2023/24 medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) and consolidate on their five-year strategic plan.
  • EFF slams Nzimande’s failure to ensure university graduates are employable Source: SABCNews The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in Parliament has lambasted Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande for what they say is his failure to ensure more university graduates are capable of being employable in the job market.
  • See the Language and Literacies section for SA news that dominated feeds in the past week 


Language and Literacies

  • JET responds to the 2021 PIRLS results Source: JET Education Services Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), an international comparative study directed by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. PIRLS assesses and compares the reading performance of pupils in their fourth year of formal schooling across participating countries
  • Sign language is set to become South Africa’s 12th official language after a long fight for recognition Source: The Conversation Sign language is on its way to become the 12th official language in South Africa after parliament recently agreed to amend the constitution to this end. The move will bring to fruition three decades of a struggle to empower the country’s deaf community. An official language has legal status in a state and serves as the language of administration (conducting day-to-day state business). Theo du Plessis, an emeritus professor of South African Sign Language and Deaf Studies, shares his insights.
  • Inside a cold container in Nelson Mandela Bay, ‘Preposition Bear’ and ‘Granny Squad’ are on duty to help children read Source: Daily Maverick It’s an icy morning at the Shine Literacy Centre, which is run from a container in Gqeberha’s Walmer Township. But ‘Preposition Bear’, a large teddy bear with a pink hula hoop around his tummy, is already on duty.
  • Why are learners reading worse in African languages? A response from the Department of Basic Education Source: Daily Maverick The Covid-19 pandemic was a temporary shock to the education of a generation of children. It was not reflective of a general decline in the functioning of the school system, so there is no reason South Africa should not return to its pre-pandemic trend of improvement.
  • South Africa’s 10 year-olds are struggling to read – it can be fixed Source: The Conversation More than 80% of South Africa’s grade 4 pupils – who are on average nine or 10 years old – cannot read for meaning. That means they can’t answer basic questions about or draw inferences from a text they’re reading. This worrying statistic emerged from the 2021 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), which were released by the country’s basic education minister, Angie Motshekga, on 16 May.
    The Conversation Africa asked Karen Roux, a specialist in reading literacy and development of equivalent assessments, to unpack the results.


Open Education and Open Educational Resources


Post Schooling


Skills and Employment 

  • NWU invites community partners to join network of experts Source: IT Web  The North-West University (NWU) appreciates the essential work of non-profit organisations (NPOs) and their impact on support provided to surrounding communities. The university extends an invitation to all its existing community partners, as well as all other local NPOs – including schools, faith-based and local government organisations – to register for the Community Stakeholder Forum meeting. This exciting new forum aims to build capacity in communities through a network of expertise and collective community involvement. 
  • Airbnb empowers emerging tourism entrepreneurs Source: IT Web Airbnb has provided financial support of R2 million to the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ’s) School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH), to assist emerging tourism entrepreneurs from previously-disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue their studies.
  • Nursing students in limbo as Gauteng health can’t absorb them Source: TimesLive More than 100 nursing students who were given bursaries by the Gauteng department of health (GDoH) say they are in limbo as the department does not have funds to place them for community service and absorb them for employment.
    The students from the Gauteng College of Nursing R. 171 programme began their studies in 2020 and were given bursaries by the department. They were the first group in the three-year nursing programme after it was introduced in 2020


Teaching and Learning- Local and Global


Technology Enhanced Learning

  • AI-Powered Learning Design Dr. Phillipa Hardmans latest blog post on How AI is transforming the velocity & effectiveness of learning experience design
  • Will AI Transform Educational Standards of Evidence? Source: Psychology Today  Dangers of equivocal scientific evidence for rapid AI innovations and policies.
  • Creating Community in Your Online Course Source: ASC Distance Education A compilation of  resources to help with creating community in virtual learning spaces. Topics include pedagogical strategies, best practices for virtual learning tools, and student collaboration and discussion
  • ChatGPT and other generative AI could foster science denial and misunderstanding – here’s how you can be on alert Source: The Conversation The authors of “Science Denial: Why It Happens and What to Do About It,” are concerned about how generative AI may blur the boundaries between truth and fiction for those seeking authoritative scientific information.
  • Swotknot Introduces SwotBuddy, Aka “Winky,” Integrated ChatGPT Learning Assistant Source: Technology Today Scrappy startup Swotknot, ignites global interest with linked to its ChapGPT enabled learning site and integrated WhatsAppp, study buddy “Winky”  Swotknot, a new online educational platform launched its integrated ChatGPT AI learning and study assistant, SwotBuddy.
    This small start up saw the opportunity to add value to students and educators alike while also recognizing that learning doesn’t always have to be serious to be effective. This philosophy and commitment to education allows Swotknot to play with new technologies in ways that old school educational sites just can’t.


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