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On Tuesday the Deputy Minister of Communications, Stella Tembisa Ndabeni, delivered a speech on  “Building ICT infrastructure for South Africa’s advancement in the knowledge and digital economy”. See the report on this speech at BussinesTech.

There was a quote that got my attention: “It is high time that we use these [social] networks for development. For example, teachers can ensure that their learners take interest in [homework] through posting the questions on their Facebook, Twitter or MXit pages, where [a] majority of learners are found.” This is a fantastically informed statement and very encouraging.  Especially in light of the fact that New York has moved to make it illegal for teachers to be connected to their students on social networks.Social platforms have great potential for helping to develop our struggling education system. Through social interaction students around the country, indeed the world, can interact and share on curriculum, projects or lessons.Consider a classroom in rural KZN connected to a classroom in America or Europe or Australia or even throughout the province – sharing and collaborating.  It is now long established that collaboration is vital for success in business.  Through social classrooms a culture of collaboration can be instilled very early on.  Additionally an understanding of and integration with the social web from a young age will go along away in preparing children for the world they will inherit when they leave school.

Of course, for this to fully work we will need abundant and cheap bandwidth which is on its way through the many undersea cables connecting Africa to the highspeed connected world.

In addition the hardware will need to be provided.  Even this is not that far out of reach with falling hardware prices as I wrote about in October last year.

There is a long way to go but I am encouraged that our Department of Communications has at least put this on the table.

Your thoughts on using social media in education? Let me know in the comments.

Picture: Sujin Jetkasettakorn