Pre service and in service teachers need to be introduced, taught about, with and through ICTS. But the problems of access make implementation of this goal difficult. I’ve counted phone numbers, fax, email addresses etc of schools in the KZN Midlands region. Out of the 506 schools
- 96% have mobile numbers,
- 74% have landlines,
- 45% have fax,
- 19% have email &
- 3% have websites.
Worrying that 25% schools that do not have a telephone. But heartening that only 4% are beyond reach of ICTS (thanks Martin Cooper).
Implications for ICT
What does access to ICT in KZN mean for our intentions to use the Internet with teachers. Time to abandon the desktop and move onto mobile? The above statistics make it clear. There are limited opportunities for a teacher to use an office bound computer and access the internet via landline or broadband connection.But it’s not helpful to see this as a choice between two platforms. The university has plenty facilities. Intenet Cafes and Public Intenet Terminals allow users to use a computer. Desktop space, and mobile space are not in competition, they are converging. A desktop offers the user a better interface and superior processing power. Mobiles offers users ubiquitous access.
Social Media and Learning
Restricted ICT opportunities mean that teachers will not be able to use ICTs for information transfer. But they can use ICTs for commincations. Within social media field, the most popular web sites are those that allow ICT users to connect with other ICT users are Facebook and Twitter. Both work on multiple platforms.
- Twitter enables direct and immediate communication
- Structured interface that is easy to navigate
- Hard to explain it’s use.
- People don’t understand why you would want to Twit
- The 140 characters restriction is an inherent constraints that limits the time investment required to benefit from the site
- Encourages you to connect with people beyond your social circle
- Twitter is not SMS enabled in South Africa
- Facebook is feature-rich and offers a range of communication tools.
- The range of customisations makes the interface confusing
- Easy to explain its use.
- People can grasp the use of connecting to friends and family using facebook
- Understanding comes fairly quickly with an explanation
- Sustained investment of time is necessary to reap the benefits
- Encourages you to connect within a social circle
- Vodacom subscribers can use SMS to post and receive updates to Facebook
Interactivity or Access – Which way to go
So if pre service and in service teachers in KZN are to go mobile, and use social media to connect with each other and their instructors, then which direction should we follow. The differences between Twitter and Facebook are significant. If access is the key criteria then Facebook is winning the battle in this part of the world. Facebook is working hard to reposition itself for the mobile field. The FB barrier to entry is lower than Twitter (at least in my South African experience).
If interactivity is the key measurement of suitability, then Twitter is the route for KZN teachers. The ability within Twitter to quickly follow and gather followers allows teachers and their instructors to set up an active network rapidly.
Comparisons between the two applications could be inappropriate. Perhaps the question shouldn’t be an either or choice. Twitter is good if you are looking for active conversations amongst your users. Busy people have time to enter 140 characters into their twitter account. Facebook and its customisations allow the user new flexibility. This flexibility can even allow you to you to SMS to Facebook and automatically transfer the SMS to Twitter. But it’s time to let the users speak. I’m posting this to my question to my Twitter account and my Facebook page.