Posted on May 17, 2009 · Posted in Siyavula

The objective of the Siyavula project is to ensure that educators have access to educational resources that comprehensively cover the South African curriculum which they can use, adapt, contextualise, print, and distribute as needed. Furthermore, the resources must form a sustainable, living body of material that continues to grow as technology, curriculum and contexts change. Communities of practice of teachers are the most effective means for achieving the long-term sustainability of the content as well as being an effective form of professional development.

Siyavula has partnered with the Connexions project to provide a web-platform that can be used for supporting communities of teachers. The platform supports content uploading, individual and collaborative editing and vetting and has been extended by Siyavula to support curriculum alignment, discussion forums, templates, and subjects.

A comprehensive set of workbooks and teacher’s guides covering grades R-9 for all learning areas in English and Afrikaans have been acquired as well as the material developed by the Free High School Science Texts project covering grades 10-12 Mathematics and Physical Science. This material has been uploaded to the Connexions platform where it will form the nucleus around which communities can form.

A community intervention is underway to support the formation of groups of educators that, over time, will evolve into fully-fledged communities of practice. The intervention supports the use of Connexions as a platform for the acquisition, enhancement and collaborative development of content as well as a platform for community discussion. These communities will enhance, extend and add to the existing material, ensuring that the body of material is sustainable.

About the Author

Mark Horner is the CEO of Siyavula Education, a social enterprise working in the school sector in South Africa. While working as the Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow for Open and Collaborative Resources, Mark was able to transform the Free High School Science Texts (FHSST) project, which he co-founded, into Siyavula Education. In this process, openly-licensed, collaboratively authored textbooks have been printed and distributed nationally in South Africa. Working at the intersection of community, openness and technology; Mark intends to leverage this success to make Siyavula an innovative, technology provider in education that works effectively as part of the education community to ensure better learning opportunities for all. A recent notable event being the delivery of Siyavula's textbooks over Mxit, the most popular mobile chat solution in South Africa. Mark has a PhD in physics from the University of Cape Town and conducted his research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California on the results from the STAR experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. His work is carried out in the belief that the liberation of information and support of education in South Africa will lead to a peaceful and prosperous future for all South Africans.