Thursday, 25 February 2016

Study tips for students

The world of tertiary study is very different to what you were used to the school classroom. For one thing, you will be required at university or college to use more of your own initiative and find additional sources to supplement the information you are given in lectures or seminars. You will have to work more independently than you may be used to, without the same level of guidance you received at school.

Here are a few tips to help you adjust to your new world of study.

Time management

This is something you'll want to develop and refine as soon as possible. From now on, in both your studies and your future career, time management will be an important skill to have.

One of the best ways to manage your time is to plan your schedule for each day in advance. Every day, create a list of things that you need to do, and a list of the things that you want to do. Obviously the first list will be more urgent, but it's important that you also plan leisure time and other activities in order to create a balanced lifestyle.

Next comes the really important part – prioritising your list. Work out the importance of each item, and then work through them from most important to least important.

Make sure that you allocate enough time to accomplish each task – you'll find that you get better at this the more you practise.

Be organised

It's much easier to work efficiently and get things done if you are organised. Organise the place where you study by yourself. Organise all your books, files and papers from the very start, so that you always know where to find items that you need. You'll waste a lot of time otherwise, searching for things.

Take regular breaks

There's a reason why lectures only last for a certain amount of time – they're based on the optimum concentration and information absorption levels that the average person has.

The same goes for you when you study alone. Work for about 45 minutes at a time, with short breaks in-between. This will help to keep your mind fresh and your concentration levels as high as possible.

While it may feel "wrong" to take all of these breaks, especially if you are under pressure, you will find that you are able to focus better this way, rather than studying for extended uninterrupted periods.

Look after yourself

It's not for nothing that there is the truism: healthy body, healthy mind. You can keep your brain working in top condition by eating healthily and getting enough of the right nutrition. Try to eat low GI foods as these will help to keep your blood sugar levels balanced.

Get enough sleep. We know that there are many reasons to lose sleep when you're studying at university or college – from workload to partying. Nonetheless, try to get enough regular sleep, as you'll function far better if you are properly rested.

Exercise regularly. Physical exercise stimulates the brain and helps to relax the body so that it is better able to deal with stress. You'll also find that you can concentrate better and have more mental stamina.

Let's start a conversation. Let me know what you think here or connect with me on Twitter (@EduloanSA)

Thursday, 18 February 2016

The importance of technology in the workplace

The importance of technology in the workplace

It's not an overstatement to say that technology has completely changed the world of work over the last decade, and even the last five years. Simply by listing some of the most important recent technology developments we can easily appreciate just how far-reaching these changes have been.


Technology has transformed the business world

Of course the overarching technology that has revolutionised business communications is the Internet. However, there are other developments that we can identify:
  • Voice over IP (VoIP) and video conferencing
    These allow personnel from widely distributed or remote locations to communicate with each other, hold meetings and collaborate.

  • Cloud computing
    The cloud is more than just a technology. It is an entire business paradigm that is changing almost every aspect of how we do business – from the IT infrastructure that we use, to where and how we store and access our data.

  • Mobile technology and devices
    Mobile devices have become fully integrated into the business world. Smartphones and tablets have made it possible for people to work while on the move, running apps that use data from a centrally accessible location.

  • The Internet of Everything
    RFID cards can be inserted into a multitude of devices, allowing them to communicate with each other. For example, the latest soft drink vending machines allow one to communicate with them via a smartphone to customise flavours.


What does this mean for you as a student?

Technology has had such an impact that, no matter what subject you want to study or what career you wish to follow, you have to make sure that you are tech-savvy.

Technology now almost completely drives the business world. It underpins the operations of all companies, and provides the majority of the tools that everyone uses in the workplace. Most job interviews will include an assessment of your technological abilities – for example, which Microsoft suites you are familiar with, or which smartphone applications you would use to perform your work.

So it's very important that you know how to use the technology and tools that apply to your chosen field.

In fact, you should start becoming familiar with technology as early as possible during your education. In previous articles on this blog I've highlighted the ways in which different types of technology can help in the classroom. If your school has access to these technologies, then by using them you are already preparing yourself for the world of work.

Certainly, by the time you reach university or college, you should be using technology as much as you can, even if it's only for assignments or research.

At the same time, it's an unfortunate fact of the current climate that not everyone can afford some of the basic technology required in the modern study and work environment – like laptops or tablets.


We can help you access the technology you need

Eduloan, as the education specialist, has partnered with DG Stores to give you access to technology, in the form of affordable finance options on items such as laptops and tablets.

The process is easy and convenient. You can simply go to our online store, select what you need, and apply for finance at the same time. There are no forms to fill in by hand, no deposits to pay, and no hidden costs. Once your technology loan is approved, your device will be delivered to you.

This is another way in which we unlock potential - by providing access to the technology that enables education. It's part of how we help people to fulfil their dreams and aspirations, and be productive members of our communities and society. Let's start a conversation. Let me know what you think here or connect with me on Twitter (@EduloanSA)

Thursday, 11 February 2016


5 good reasons to get a further education

There are some obvious reasons why getting a further education is an excellent idea. As a society we tend to focus on the ones related to career advancement, but there are plenty of other benefits that we can identify.

It can be the basis of a lifelong career

If you have a passion for a subject and want to make it a career, this is where it all really starts. Secondary schooling will have equipped you with the basics; after that, everything becomes more specialised. So a tertiary education is the first step in your real career path.

You can begin this journey any time you like, although the sooner the better, as this will give you a longer career. For those who haven't been able to afford further education or who haven't known what they want to do with their lives until now, it's never too late to start in pursuit of your life's ambitions.

It can expand your career

If you have already qualified and started your career, this doesn't mean that there isn't room for further study. It's always important to remain current in your career and to keep developing personally. Further education can be the key to this. The more well-rounded your education, the richer your career will be.

For instance, if you have a marketing degree, you can do a further branding or digital media course, which will ensure that you are up to date in your field of interest, and give you an additional qualification that you can use to advance your career. Similarly, if you have a nursing qualification you can supplement it by doing a course in nutrition.

You might be surprised at the wide choice available for you to supplement and advance your career. In fact, many colleges and other further education providers have curricula known as "career courses". These are specifically designed to give you additional tertiary education after you have started your career. To illustrate, one of the main further education colleges in the country offers career courses ranging from human resources management and IT, to multimedia studies, hospitality, tourism and business administration.

It broadens your horizons

A tertiary education can expose you to new points of view in your chosen area of interest, different perspectives on life in general, and all kind of new ideas, concepts and opportunities.

This is particularly true if you come from a small town or community. Universities and colleges are melting pots of thoughts and ideas, giving you the opportunity to greatly expand your own world view.

Take every opportunity to do this. Not only will your life be forever enriched; you will also become a better-rounded, interesting person.

It teaches you to think more critically

This is possibly the most important thing that you should learn during your further studies. Any good course or lecturer will ensure that, while they are teaching you about a subject, they also teach you how to think about that subject. How to evaluate theories and ideas on the subject, to find their merits or their weaknesses.

It's a skill that will serve you well in all areas to which you need to apply your mind in life, not only in your studies and career. Internet technology has caused a huge increase in the amount of information to which we are exposed, and it's very important for each of us to have the ability to process and evaluate that information critically.

It lets you build networks

Whatever your interests, you're virtually guaranteed to find like-minded people at your place of study. This is especially true of large institutions with big campuses, like the major universities. So it's an excellent place to form new relationships around these interests, which can often last a lifetime.

Of course this networking isn't confined to hobbies and interests. Many of the people with whom you study will go on to take up the same career as you do, making the campus an ideal place to form solid relationships that will stand you in very good stead once you enter the workplace or start your own business.

It's good for you

Plenty of studies have shown that the more educated you are, the greater your life satisfaction and the better your general health. Other interesting benefits are that more educated people have also been shown to live longer, are more likely to vote and are more socially mobile.

All of which boils down to one thing: if you get the opportunity to improve your education, take it.

Let's start a conversation. Let me know what you think here or connect with me on Twitter (@EduloanSA)

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Teaching the teachers about technology


I've spoken a lot right here about the importance of technology in education, and how it can help to facilitate learning and bring effective teaching to learners in the more remote areas. How it can be harnessed in a variety of ways to improve the quality and reach of education in South Africa. 

All this is very promising. However, if we are able to use technology appropriately and effectively in the process of educating our children, we first need to make sure that our teachers are thoroughly familiar and comfortable with the technologies and teaching methods themselves.

Training teachers to use technology

In order for teachers to deploy technology, they need training in it. What we often lose sight of when we think about all the potential that technology holds for education, is that there is still a significant human element involved. No matter what technology is used, someone still needs to do the actual teaching, as well as provide learners with the necessary support when using the technology. At least until we invent teacher robots.

So while we are already seeing the deployment of technology in South African classrooms, this has to be combined with comprehensive teacher training, not only in the use of the technology, but in how to teach learners to use it.

Education experts believe that there is a vast amount of teacher training that has to occur before we will be able to reap the full benefits of technology in the classroom.

A change in orientation

In many cases before we can get to the point of actually beginning teacher training in technology, we need to overcome existing hesitancies and attitudes, and sometimes even fear of technology. There is often a technophobic reaction among people who are not familiar with it. This is usually caused by a lack of previous exposure.

In South Africa we need to face the challenge of teachers themselves being completely unfamiliar with technology and having a resistance to implementing it in the classroom. This resistance isn't due to them being anti-technology; it's simply that they are unsure of it and don't feel comfortable using it. It's this orientation that first needs to be changed, so that teachers can fully embrace the technology that they will be using.

Creating relevance

The most fundamental thing to establish when training teachers in the use of technology is relevance. Much of the resistance to technology adoption comes from a lack of appreciation of its relevance to the day-to-day business of teaching. We need to assist teachers to grasp this relevance – to their subjects and to their teaching methods.

We need to clearly show teachers how technology can improve their teaching and create better learner performance. This can only be done using face-to-face training, where a human experience is combined with technology.

Once teachers fully appreciate the relevance of technology to their work, and the many ways in which it can help them, they will be in a much better position to employ technology in their classrooms.

Let's start a conversation. Let me know what you think here or connect with me on Twitter (@EduloanSA)