It’s unlikely that anyone will ever look back at an exam period with fond memories.

Chances are, most people remember exams as a blur of long nights spent cramming, minimal sleep and extreme stress.

But alas, it doesn’t need to be this way!

No, we’re sorry, you can’t skip exams:

but you can give yourself the best chance for success by rewriting, memorising and reciting our five top tips for exam preparation.

Follow these five rules and you’ll be totally prepped for exam time!

Bring the right mindset on game day. Build confidence early.

In the words of Michael Jordan:

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

Whether you feel you’re going to pass with flying colours or whether you think you’re in for an uphill battle, you must put in 100% at all times.

The mindset with which you approach your exam preparation and your exam can have a dramatic influence on your results.

Mentally preparing for an exam is just as important as the study and academic preparation you put in beforehand.

Pre-exam, try not to be over confident or overly pessimistic, always remain grounded and realistic and try to avoid coffee and energy drinks; calm focus is best.

Tip: When you enter your exam, try to answer a few questions that you’re confident in early. This will help to build your assurance, eradicate any pre-exam nerves and set you up for a stellar performance.

Keep your eye on the prize – in this case, it’s the time

Sitting an exam is like running a marathon, it’s long, it’s exhausting, it can be absolutely overwhelming and in order to beat your personal best, you have to be aware of the time.

Before you begin the exam, know how many questions you need to complete and how much time there is provided for each.

Try to spend only the time you’ve provided yourself to answer each question, even if you feel you could address the question for much longer.

Making sure you complete each question will provide you with more marks than if you answer only half the questions thoroughly.

Always keep an eye on the clock.

If you’re stumped on a question, move on.

If you get stumped on a tough question early, don’t let it ruin your time management strategy or your confidence.

Move on to the next question and come back to it later.

The longer you spend stumped on one tough question may lead you to miss out on two to three easy marks later in the exam.

Sticking with our marathon analogy, you might hit a wall, but you must keep moving forward!

Read each question slowly and then re-read it again (even slower) before answering

Read. Each. Question. Slowly.

This is so important and easily the single most underrated strategy in sitting an exam.

It’s common practice for exams to deliberately word questions that could catch you out if you’re not paying attention to the detail of the language or the diagram.

If you’re not careful, easy marks can slip through your fingers.

Always, ALWAYS, read slowly and make sure you understand exactly what you’re being asking before you answer.

Don’t be complacent.

Overlooking a multiple choice question and marking the wrong box, misreading the time of your exam and rocking up an hour late, or forgetting your textbook for an open book exam are all common and easily avoidable mistakes.

At any stage of the exam, pre, during and post:

try not to become complacent, give the exam your full respect.

While you may find that some questions are actually easy, if you become too relaxed answering the “easy” questions, it could ruin your exam technique moving forward.

Stay alert, come prepared and take each question on its merit. Don’t be the next exam horror story!

Good Luck!

How to use smartphones and tablets to boost your child’s education

Maybe your child’s a genius…

…and they’ve already taught themselves Mandarin AND learnt all the words to Shakespeare’s Othello. Backwards. At only 5 years old.

Maybe they’re hiding it from you because they don’t want to “freak you out.”

And yes, sure, maybe they’d also like to stall the inevitability of going to a traditional school, and chores, and adult this-n-thats for as long as possible.

Selfish little rascal.

There’s only ONE way to know for sure though – give them a tablet with educational content on it. Or better yet, sign them up to Think Digital Academy and let their online learning begin.

Before the 1990s, we had Education 1.0. The edge of millenniums passed under the sign of Education 2.0. Nowadays, we are entering the era of Education 3.0, marked by the revolutionary combination of the internet and the mobile. Our children are being affected by these changes above everyone else.

They start to operate mobile gadgets, use educational apps and visit learning websites even before being able to walk. Only yesterday they were prohibited from using their hi-tech gadgets in classrooms; today schools hand out smartphones and tablet, and use online learning programs for a broad range of subjects.

Ultimately, the most prominent features of Education 3.0 are:

  1. online learning lets you study anything, anywhere or on the go;
  2. wide adoption of technology;
  3. low costs – there are hundreds of cheap handheld devices and free learning resources;
  4. eliminated boundaries between disciplines, institutions, and nations;
  5. students are partly teachers as the teaching is done teacher to student, student to student, student to teacher.

As a result, education nowadays becomes something that modern children literally walk around with in their pocket. Parents must not stand aside from this fundamental shift. They should learn how to use technology to their kids’ benefit, including boosting their education.

Technology can help your child be a better learner. Embrace the fact that iPads and tablets are part of our lives and that we should harness it to assist in our children’s education now, while inevitably waiting for the next amazing technology to improve upon these devices.

Download and print the infographic.

And don’t forget to try out our free two week trial.

Yes, you read right, we’re South Africa’s two time award-winning virtual school of the year, for two years in a row.

So if you’re genuinely tempted to change your kids’ school, we wouldn’t be too surprised.

As far as schools go, we’re pretty good, and although we don’t like to brag too much, facts are facts.

Here are just a few reasons as to why you’ll love us as much as our students do.

1. Pre-recorded lessons

All our lessons have been recorded and taught by subject matter experts and masters in their fields. These lessons can be accessed from anywhere at any time, provided you have a stable internet connection. Lessons can also be viewed “offline” on our Think Digital Academy App which is available on the Google Play App Store.

2. Printable study notes

All subjects across all grades have printable PDF summaries which can be used as study notes in preparation for your assessments.

3. Memos

Each lesson contains one or more activities which have to be completed either online or in your workbooks. Memos have been provided for all the lesson activities which enables you to check and mark your own work.

4. Assessments and feedback

Assessments are completed once all the content for the term has been successfully completed and covered. Students in Grades/Stages R-9 will receive instant feedback on their assessment once it has been completed and a copy of the assessment is emailed directly to the parent or tutor. This is a useful tool which enables parents/tutors to easily identify and remedy any areas of concern.

5. Weekly e-mailed reports

A weekly report is mailed to the parent or the tutor of the student every Monday morning. This report details all of the student’s activity on the system during the preceding week. The report will include useful information such as which lessons the student has viewed, which have been completed, what scores were achieved in the lesson quizzes, how long the student spent on each lesson etc.

6. Quarterly reports

Students are able to download and print their final reports at the end of each term. Once all four terms have successfully been completed, a final report displaying results for each term can be printed.

Our reports are recognised and accepted by all government and private schools, globally.

Students who receive the National Senior Certificate (NSC) certificate, can apply at their prospective universities, provided they meet the minimum entry requirements. Similarly, students who receive the British International certificates for GCSE and AS levels, can also apply at their perspective universities locally and abroad, provided they meet the minimum entry requirements. We encourage all parents and students to do their homework as to what the entry requirements are for the various university facilities, so as to select the correct combination of subjects when making their final subject choices in Grade 10 or GCSE level.

7. Online tutors and student success coaches

Students who opt for the “With Tutor Support” option upon registration, will have access to a panel of online tutors on their dashboards. These tutors can be contacted between 8:00 and 16:30, Monday to Friday and will respond within 15 minutes. Tutors can be consulted for any content related or general questions. This does not include one on one virtual tutoring, but does include assistance via images, videos, additional resources or text explanation. All students can contact a panel of success coaches for any kind of assistance relating to their content or portal.

8. Student forum

The Forum allows students to interact virtually with other students in their grade. Students are able to communicate in real-time, on their portals.

9. Live tutorials by industry experts and lecturers

We’re very excited to launch our new live tutorials in September 2021. FET students will have the opportunity to join a live tutorial for various subjects. A schedule outlining what subject and which lesson will be covered can be viewed on their online calendars.

A successful school-going student should spend at least 2-3 hours a day studying and doing homework.

And they probably would, if things like Fortnite and Facebook and TikTok and YouTube and Candy Crush didn’t keep getting in the way.

We’re not saying this will fix that problem.

But it’s a step in the right direction.

Try out our free two week trial and see for yourself.

Welcome to the future

If it sounds like we’re excited, it’s because we are. And you should be too.

Why you might ask? We’re about to spill the beans.

Cleaning sucks

It’s just one of those facts of life.

Some jobs really are better suited for robots.

Jobs like telling traffic when to stop and when to go, keeping a schedule for load shedding, deciding what nutritious meal to cook for dinner, sitting in traffic –

And cleaning the floor.

The good news is that these things are bound to get better with time, and your child could play an instrumental role in changing things for the better.

Programming helps children learn to problem-solve

Understanding computers and learning the basics of programming helps children to develop an appreciation of how things work. It also teaches them how software engineers use mathematics in order to solve problems in a logical and creative way.

The most important trend in programming for the next decade will be using artificial intelligence (AI) to automate much of computer programming. AI and machine-based learning can automate coding and help programmers write faster and better code.

Coding develops logical and problem-solving skills in students as well as encourages creative thinking. The world must prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and students should therefore equip themselves with the necessary skills of the future.

Through language, children learn how to communicate. Coding is another type of language which is used in technology to communicate. Language also strengthens both verbal and written skills, which is why it is important that children are exposed to different languages at an early age. This further helps them to make sense of the world around them. Every letter in the coding alphabet has a special formula of 0’s and 1’s which give the technology around us directions on how to perform.  What better way for our children to understand why and how the technology around them operates, than by learning to code themselves.

Why should coding be taught at schools?

Through learning the basic literacy of the digital age, children are able to understand how the technology around them works.

Today’s economy is in urgent need of people with programming skills to meet the demands of the burgeoning tech industry. That’s why introducing your child to coding is a crucial investment in their future, a 21st century skill that’s quickly becoming necessary for a wide range of professions.

Computational thinking

It’s incredibly important for children to learn computational thinking at a young age so they can learn to take a problem, understand it and develop solutions for both humans and computers to solve. One of the benefits of learning computational thinking, the core concepts behind developing code and algorithms, is that it gives students both the tools and the idea that there are many ways to solve a problem, whilst at the same time encouraging curiosity, collaboration and communication.

Not only will learning to code mean solving problems using maths, but it also requires children to think outside the box using those creative skills. Trying to solve difficult problems requires creative solutions, a highly sought-after skill which is often difficult to teach in more traditional classroom subjects.

Coding skills are in high demand

The tech industry is in constant need of new workers, and it’s not just coders or computer science majors — they need graphic designers, software developers, computer engineers, linguists, mathematicians, and more. Tech jobs are not only plentiful, but they’re also lucrative.

Coding fosters creativity and improves mathematical skills

Coding helps children to be able to visualise abstract concepts, lets them apply maths to real-world situations and turns it into a fun and creative process.

Coding improves writing academic performance

Children who learn to code are able to better understand, plan and organise their thoughts.

This in turn, helps them to become confident problem solvers.

As they learn to code and give their projects direction, they also learn that there is no one way to do something, and that should their first way be unsuccessful, they are able to write a new plan, a new code, and try again.

How does coding prepare children for high school and beyond?

Like a foreign language, coding skills are best learned early. Once children are fluent in the type of thinking required to break down and solve computer programming problems, the transition to other more advanced coding languages is relatively straightforward.

One of the biggest obstacles to succeeding in university-level computer science classes is a lack of confidence in tackling difficult, unfamiliar material. Early exposure is the best solution – being introduced to coding and any kind of software development at an early age makes it easier to learn the more technical aspects of computer science in high school and varsity.  In fact, a study by Google and Gallup shows that early exposure is one of the most important ways we can shrink the gender gap in STEM, as it boosts confidence in children, especially young girls, while they’re still interested in technology.

Coding is a lifelong skill

Even if your child wants to do something outside of computer science when they grow up, their coding skills will prove useful across many different fields. Coding teaches problem solving, organisation, maths, storytelling, designing and a whole lot more.

The ability to code transforms children from passive consumers into innovators, with eyes that see every piece of the technology puzzle, not just as a toy but as a way to problem solve and an opportunity to create.

Resilience

Coding and software development can be challenging at times especially when faced with a complex problem. By grasping and understanding the problem using computational thinking, children will learn to come up with creative ways around it if at first they don’t succeed. This is key to teaching children to develop resilience when faced with a challenge and a level of perseverance that will also keep them focused and engaged.

Why is coding vital for our future?

The future generation will hold jobs we can’t even dream up yet – How will those jobs come about? Who will create them? What will happen to the old jobs? Where will those jobs be? Not to worry, these “new” jobs are just an evolution of the way we work and the things we do now.

Learning “how to code” is the buzz phrase we might say for computational thinking.  We are not trying to create a new generation of 100 percent computer programmers but understanding the basics of computer programming, computational thinking and general tech literacy is essential to becoming an active part of our communities and the future workforce.

If we still haven’t managed to convinced you that Coding and Robotics should without a doubt, be one of your child’s subjects, perhaps knowing that your child could be the next Elon Musk for only $45 may do the trick.

Enrol now and you will receive 20% off the cost of the course ($45 $36) by using the code CR20. This offer expires on 28 July 2021.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” – Albert Einstein

The key to being a successful adult, and more importantly, a successful parent, is knowing what all your options are and choosing the best one.

You might think it’s defined by things like a keen interest in the newspaper. Or knowing exactly what to do in any given emergency. Or understanding how taxes and rebates and fiscal-this-n-thats work.

Nope.

The key is having a rich knowledge of the various curricula offered and understanding what opportunities each one brings for your child.

Nothing says adulthood quite like searching for useful information to make the best possible adult decisions for your children’s schooling careers.

And that’s just what we’re here to help you to do.

What is the GED and what can it do for you?

The GED is equivalent to a high school qualification, so you can use it to apply to college, just like you would with any high school qualification. Although the GED is based on the American educational system, it is recognised worldwide. More than 98 % of colleges and universities in the United States accept the GED. Although universities in South Africa do not accept the GED, most other tertiary institutions do. Contact the institution you would like to attend to enquire about their entry requirements.

The great news is that employers recognise the GED, so, if you have the necessary skills and experience, you can apply for positions requiring a high school qualification. Your GED qualification can also significantly increase your earning potential.

Passing the GED exam can give you better opportunities for work in the future. And don’t think that you’re alone in preparing for or wanting to earn your GED: there are 20 million GED graduates around the world.

Is the GED right for my child?

Many students aren’t cut out to complete a standard high school qualification, and it usually has nothing to do with learning ability. Unlike a high school qualification, the GED can be completed in as little as three months. This makes it an ideal option for older students who would like to prepare for a career or college studies. The only requirement is that students are 17 when they write the final GED exams. There is no maximum age limit.

The GED only comprises four subjects – Mathematical Reasoning, Reasoning Through Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science. The great news is that you can take one subject at a time. More than 20 million students worldwide have obtained their GED and you can too!

The key is to be fully prepared for your final exams with comprehensive lessons, hundreds of simulated questions, practice tests and lots of support.

What is covered in the GED?

The GED test has four main areas of testing:
Mathematical Reasoning
Reasoning Through Language Arts
Science
Social Studies

Mathematical Reasoning

Students should be familiar with Maths concepts, measurements, equations, and be able to apply Maths concepts to solve real-life problems. The final exam consists of a 115 minute online assessment which can be taken at any GED testing centre. The Maths paper has two parts and calculators can be used for the second part. You don’t have to memorise the formulas as you will have access to formula sheets. The final assessment comprises of multiple-choice questions, fill in the blank, select an area, and drop-down options.

Reasoning Through Language Arts

Test topics include reading for meaning, identifying and creating arguments, grammar and language. The final test is 150 minutes. It consists of three parts which include an extended response and multiple- choice questions.

Social Studies

Students are required to read for meaning, analyse historical events and arguments and use numbers and graphs. Students are not required to memorise countless dates and events or capitals of countries, but rather interpret text, numbers and graphs. The final test is 70 minutes long and calculators are allowed. The test comprises multiple choice questions and other question types such as drag and drop, fill in the blank and choose from a drop-down list.

Science

Students need to understand science concepts, know how to read graphs and charts displaying scientific data, and use reasoning to interpret science information. The Science test is not a memorisation test. Students do not need to memorise the periodic table of elements, but will need to recognise names and symbols of key elements to answer the questions.

Exam costs

In the US, prices vary from state to state, see the cost for your state on the GED Testing Service website.

South African students are required to register as international students on the GED website. The GED test costs $75 USD per subject, so the total for all four subjects is $300 USD. Boston City Campus and Business College VUE Testing Centres are exclusively authorised to offer the GED® Examinations within South Africa. There are currently 40 testing centers nationwide.

In order to successfully complete your GED, a passing score of 145 out of 200 must be obtained. On successful completion of all tests, students will receive an electronic version of their GED® High School Equivalency Credential issued by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education in Washington, DC. You can also order a hard copy of your GED diploma or transcript. Don’t panic if you don’t pass all four tests! Students are allowed to test the same subject two additional times without a wait, and requires a 60-day wait period between additional attempts. There is no minimum grade to qualify for a rewrite, but it will incur a test fee. The GED® test score report will provide students with detailed feedback to address the skills they need to work on.

How old do I need to be to take the test?

Students are required to be 18 years old to write the test with no restrictions. If you are 17 years old, you must complete and submit a Parental/Guardian Consent form. Once the form is reviewed and approved, you will receive a notification to schedule your test.

Due to government rules, no one 16 years of age or younger is allowed to test.

Students can view their results within 24 hours.

The best part is that students can complete their GED from anywhere they like, whenever they like.

We’ve made completing the GED super easy by providing:

  • Subject matter experts to teach the content
  • Weekly reports delivered straight to your mailbox
  • Online tutors to guide and assist you with content related queries
  • Study notes to help you prepare for assessments
  • Instant feedback on all your assessments
  • Online support 6 days a week

With all this in mind, you’ve most likely made up your mind and decided that completing your GED through Think Digital, would in fact be the best decision for your child’s education.

And you’d be right.

Free trial

Enrol for our free trial to explore our e-learning environment.

Learning from home Mondays are quite different to regular Mondays.

They’re a bit like getting into a swimming pool using the steps. The acclimatisation period is longer. The stark contrast between Sunday night and Monday morning is softened.

And if you’re wondering how, we’re here to tell you exactly how you go about studying online, from anywhere, at any time.

First things first, set up a schedule.

Learning schedules and online learning go together like Batman and Robin.

Break the content down into chunks using the Termly Planner given to you under your “Termly Planners and Notices” icon – if you’re the type to get overwhelmed, assign yourself a “chunk” a day.

Discover why you procrastinate — (if you do) — and if you don’t, give yourself a pat for being one step closer to bagging yourself the “student of the year” reward.

A good reward for sticking to your schedule could be to exercise or relax for 15 minutes while you give yourself a well-deserved brain break.

Create a study routine – make it work for you and the task will flow effortlessly. Eventually, even your rewards will seem less exciting as an even better reward will be ticking things off your list.

Be clear as to why you want to do well – make yourself a list and put it up somewhere where you can see it often. This will form part of your motivation. Some examples could be:

  1. I want to learn more and improve myself.
  2. I want to develop the habit of pursuing excellence.
  3. I want to become a more focused and disciplined student.
  4. I want to have a meaningful career.
  5. I want to provide well for myself and my future family.
  6. I want to know that I gave it my best shot.
  7. I want to live with no regrets.

This will come in handy on those days when you’re not feeling motivated.

If you’re a mind map type of person, this is the time to use one in order to gather your information.

Fact: Mind maps mimic how the brain works.

Second fact: Creating mind maps and study notes make you look 40% more intellectual.

Third fact: Gaining a clear understanding of what is on the mind map, can make you 90% more intellectual.

Making a “boring” subject interesting while learning online

When you find it difficult to study because the subject is “boring”, ask yourself:

“Is this subject really boring or does it seem that way because I have closed my mind off to it?”

Ask yourself some interesting questions to kick start your brain:

When was this technique or theory developed?

Who developed it?

What problem did it solve?

How would the world be different today if it wasn’t for this technique?

If you remain curious, nothing gets boring because an open mind leads to endless possibilities and learning. This curiosity should automatically lead to the brain understanding the information and not just memorising it.

This approach is more effective and will keep you motivated.

Look for gaps in your understanding

Meaning?

If you’re unable to explain it, chances are, you don’t understand it. Make it work for you – break it down to suit your understanding.

Study in short bursts

Aka, “spaced learning”.

The theory behind this is that learning involves the creation of memories.

Memories are formed through links between neurons. In order for these memories to become embedded, the neurons have to be left undisturbed for a period of time.

That’s why we learn better in short bursts of online studying. This approach gives the neurons time to store and embed these new memories.

Don’t expect to feel motivated all the time

Strangely enough, one of the best ways to deal with a lack of motivation is to stop expecting to feel motivated all the time.

The fact is that no one feels motivated all the time.

So don’t rely on feeling motivated in order to get the work done.

Sometimes the motivation just won’t be there.

That’s why you need a study routine and study habits, because systems always beat motivation.

Exercise your brain

To get motivated to study, you need to train your brain. Think of your brain as a muscle.

Continuously exercise your brain, even when you’re not studying.

You can do this by reading, thinking through challenging world issues, doing puzzles, or journaling, walking outside, stretching, kicking a ball. The greater the variety of ways in which you train your brain, the stronger and more flexible your brain will become.

Get enough sleep and create a healthy eating plan!

Organise your time

For each subject, make a list of the lessons and tasks that you need to complete in order to be ready for the assessments.

Download a study schedule template if you need one and block out the times you have available each day to study.

As far as possible, choose blocks of time that are the same each day (e.g. 3:30pm to 5:30pm) so that your online school schedule is easy to remember.

Create a daily plan which lists the most important lessons and tasks to be completed for the day.

Review your study schedule at the end of each week.

Assess whether you’re on track to reach your study goals by assessment time. If you’re not, adjust your schedule by finding additional blocks of time for studying. Remember that up until Grade 9, the assessments are self-paced and can be completed online whenever you feel ready to take them.

If working in a group works for you, find a motivated “online study buddy” on the “Forum” to help you and your studies.

Make online learning active, not passive

Passive learning is where you try to absorb information and knowledge. It’s based on the idea that you’re an empty vessel waiting to be filled.

We actually construct knowledge by integrating the new material with what we already know and have already experienced.

So, if you want to learn a new topic quickly and effectively, use as much active learning as you can.

Examples of online active learning are:

  • Finding applications of the new topic in your own life
  • Doing case studies where the new ideas or theories are put into a specific context
  • Reviewing and commenting on the work you have already completed
  • Thinking of ways to apply concepts to problems you come across.

Schedule time for relaxation

This may seem obvious, but when your focus is studying for an upcoming assessment, it’s easy to forget that you need time to relax – therefore, you need to schedule relaxation to recharge and learn better.

Focus on the process, not the result but let the result drive you.

Try to create healthy habits – put your phone in another room, keep a bottle of water with you, have fresh air ventilating your room and get yourself some healthy snacks. Try to avoid having big meals as they tend to make you feel tired and heavy.

Set a timer – this includes a start time and end time but, have the alarm in another room so that you don’t keep checking to see how much time you have left.

Congratulations! You now have a head full of useful, new information and you’re ready to add even more to it.

Mindset is everything, and maybe a nap with some good snacks help too. Give yourself two weeks and your schedule should flow with effortless ease. For optimal results, we highly recommend sitting upright, maintaining a good posture and avoiding your bed or couch – unless of course, it’s below 5 degrees – in which case we highly recommend not leaving your bed or couch at all.

One common grievance home-schooling parents face:

Quick maths and science calculations without having the right scientific calculator on hand or knowledge in mind — best you set aside half the day to teach yourself first and be willing to look through every textbook in your house, and/or search multiple YouTube videos in search of an explanation.

Oh, and good luck keeping your cool throughout the entire ordeal. As the minutes turn into hours, you’ll only become more and more aware that you’re doing all this for only one question that your child needs help with.

It is an unparalleled inconvenience.

And it’s one you can avoid forever by joining an online school and registering your child as an online student instead.

Some people think home-schooling and online schooling is the same thing.

However, online learning means more learning and fun for students and less stress for parents.

To highlight the differences between being a home-schooler and an online student, we’ve made this easy to read story for you below.

Traditional school

Home school

Online school

Building

Teachers

Many students

Official curriculum

Hardcopy or e-books

Guided schedule

Strict time frames

Few teachers

One approach

Home

Parent

One – five siblings

Multiple curriculum

Hardcopy textbooks

Flexible schedule

Flexible time frames

One teacher

One approach

Anywhere

Teachers

Many students

Official curriculum

Virtual textbook

Flexible schedule

Work ahead / move slower

Variety of teachers

Multiple approaches

Free trial

Enrol for our free trial to explore our e-learning environment.

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that humans are flexible and have the ability to cope with abrupt changes. What certainly helps, is having the skills to adapt to these changes, even in the most challenging circumstances.

In recent months, online learning has grown in popularity, greatly aided by the rapid development of technology and sophisticated learner management systems for the delivery of education. Think Digital Academy can attest to this.

Businesses have, where possible, moved to remote work; schools have by necessity embraced distance learning; and many college students who had formerly been enrolled in on-campus courses, now find themselves learning online.

For those already learning online, keeping the doors of learning open, came without any challenges. Embracing the change to digital learning carries many positive benefits.

Parents and tutors with children who are learning online have found that digital learning has had a long-term positive impact on their children, who have also become more resilient to challenges in general.

Online learning is defined by students’ access to various learning materials from the learning management system (LMS), engaging in online discussions, and having virtual classes.

The advantages of online learning

Acquiring IT skills
A definite benefit is acquiring the skill to use technology effectively. Further education programmes and certainly the majority of employers, require candidates to have anything from basic to advanced IT skills. Exposing students to a range of technology within the digital classroom can give them a competitive advantage.

Flexible learning hours
Another benefit to learning online means that students have the ability and opportunity to choose their own learning hours. This is particularly useful if they have other sport or cultural commitments and have to study according to a different time schedule. If they’re early risers they could start learning at the crack of dawn or, if they are night owls, they can start learning in the afternoon and finish late. As a result, online learners can take full advantage of the situation by enabling worldwide, self-directed learning.

Flexible learning environment
With a laptop or mobile device and Wi-Fi, students can manage their own learning from just about anywhere. Another great benefit is the possibility of working from a remote location. Even if a student lives in a rural village far from educational institutions, they can still benefit from attending an online “private” school. Where students need to travel as high-performance athletes, they can do so with online learning, as they do not need to be physically present — all they require to continue learning, is a device and a reliable internet connection.

Tracked progress
Some learner management systems such as the Think Digital Academy platform facilitates online learning and allows parents and tutors to save information easily and access it whenever they log in. This kind of automatic organisation allows the parent or tutor to focus their time on aspects that require more attention. This also allows the parent or tutor to track their student’s progress and easily identify problem areas.

Flipped classroom
Perhaps the biggest benefit to online learning is this — teachers still play the most important role in the learning experience. Technology cannot replace the role of the teacher, but it does lend itself as a very useful tool for enhancing the experience of the student through the use of interactive lessons with videos, animation and quizzes. Think Digital Academy has incorporated the benefits of private teachers who are subject experts, while developing the skill of critical thinking.

When evaluating the different e-learning options for your child, it is essential that:

  • the content is engaging and interactive;
  • students are guided through their subjects by online teachers;
  • students can engage with their subjects through assignments and projects;
  • students receive electronic feedback on their learning;
  • students have platforms on which to interact and collaborate with each other such as online chat rooms and discussion forums;
  • there is a way in which parents can monitor their child’s progress.

Based on these criteria, select an option that will ignite a drive for life-long learning in your child. Ultimately, we are at the cusp of an exciting transformation in our education sector, one that will revolutionise the learning and teaching environment, and change your child’s education for the better.

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March 2020 marked a year since South Africa adopted an emergency lockdown strategy in a bid to “flatten the curve” and curb the spread COVID-19.

This saw life as we knew it, come to a standstill during alert level 5.

Evidently the school calendar was affected by these precautions and till now the effects are still felt.

A word of thanks from Think Digital Academy

Think Digital Academy would like to take this opportunity to salute all educators and students during this trying period. Our thoughts are extended to those that lost their loved ones in the education sector.

New methods of teaching had to be employed to secure the future of students. Online schooling became the preferred method. For most, it came as a challenge, but it has since proved to be effective and efficient.

Institutions like Think Digital Academy already had a system in place to cater not only for the educational aspects of a student but also their psychological and emotional well-being.

The status of online schooling today

Due to COVID-19 the school calendar remains under threat. From time-to-time adjustments will have to be made when new regulations are put in place. This is the reality we now live in.

We have more reasons now, as a country, to permanently migrate to virtual, online teaching and learning.

The academic year really suffered last year, in 2020. Currently, there is already talk of a higher lockdown level in South Africa, going beyond Easter. Education must continue amidst all this uncertainty, even if it has to be online.

Education is a right

Education is a fundamental right that we should always uphold.

If we do not adapt to online virtual learning now as a long-term solution, like other countries in Africa and the world, we run the risk of raising an uneducated generation.

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We think you should and here’s why:

The world renowned British International curriculum, which we offer at Think Digital Academy, is an internationally recognised qualification, currently offered in over 160 countries across the world, and in over 10 000 schools or colleges. Our world today has become, more and more, a global village, and arming your child with an internationally acclaimed and respected education is the way to go.

In the hundreds of nations where the British International curriculum is taught across the world, there are variations and adaptations inculcated to suit local contexts.

Where does British Assessment International Education take you?

Success in British International qualifications often gives students admission to the best universities all over the world including, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany and many other countries worldwide.

British International qualifications are accepted and valued by universities around the world, including MIT, Harvard and Cambridge.

They are recognised as qualifications that prepare and equip students with the skills they need to succeed both at university and beyond. According to the British Assessment International Education, feedback from universities is that they value the independent research and critical thinking skills, as well as the deep subject knowledge that a British International qualification brings.

The British International curriculum has a clear path for a student which runs from the age of 5 to 19. British International primary is from age 5 to age 11, and it consists of 10 subjects including English, Mathematics and Science.

British International lower secondary also consists of 10 subjects. The age group in this category is from 11 to 14 years old. From 14 to 16 years old, it is referred to as British International upper secondary. This stage identifies British International IGCSE [which has over 70 subjects], British International AS/A level and the British International AICE certificate.

But why British International curriculum?

Skills acquired through the British International pathway equip learners with the ability to thrive at university and beyond. The four stages named above (British International primary to British International advanced level) all build on each other systematically. This is vital as it builds on previous learning in a systematic and creative manner.

Through a combination of the programmes students are encouraged to develop higher-order thinking skills, problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, independent research abilities and information interpretation. These lifetime skills prepare learners well for their academic journey.

British International schools can tailor the British International international curriculum to their culture, and ethos and to suit students’ needs. Many schools around the world use British International programmes and qualifications as the English-medium strand of a bilingual education programme.

Professionals from American universities do concur that British International is a good foundation for students. The academic skills that British International students display are second to none and they are well prepared for college. Students who have experienced the British International curriculum are able to survive and adapt to the rigorous environment in tertiary institutions.

The students are more willing to take part in academic communities and other societies, which enables them to be part of the university holistically.

Another positive attribute noted by the admissions personal of the University of Virginia is that British International students have great writing skills as well as comprehension skills. Arizona State University enrolment services alluded that British International learners match the Arizona preparatory units and perform very well.

Students at Brown University who have a background of British International are said to perform in the 90s and they graduate on time.

British International exams are taken in June or November. The time table is carefully crafted in a manner that no student can have more than six hours of examination per day. Exams for the same subjects are taken at the same time for security and credibility; this is the British International key time rule.

Think Digital Academy offers you an opportunity to be part of this globally acknowledged academic programme. We offer the British International curriculum in a conducive, fun and creative manner. Our hands-on approach creates a holistic learning environment. We produce students who are well groomed independent thinkers, flexible and well prepared to take on the world.

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When a business takes the leap to expand to another country, like in our case, to the United States of America, rebranding is inevitable. And we are excited by both the expansion as well as the rebrand of our award winning South African online school, now known as Think Digital Academy.

Our CEO, Ms Janessa Leita, explains, “As Think Digital College continues to grow in South Africa, and online education gains further popularity under the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw it prudent to spread our wings to the USA – a goal we have been working on for some time now.”

She elaborates further with, “The expansion to the United States of America has become a reality as we have now registered our first institution in the state of Florida.”

What happens when you open doors in a new country?

With the first phase of global expansion of any business, online schools are no exception, there must be evolution. In this case, cultural evolvement was necessary. Janessa explains, “Our international expansion has however, meant that we have had to change our name in the process, as the word ‘college’ refers to a tertiary institution in the USA. As a result, our exciting new name Think Digital Academy was birthed.”

When certain things change (like our name) others remain the same

Think Digital Academy is undoubtedly built on the vitally fundamental pillars of Think Digital College, that of quality, advancement, and integrity. This online school that was born and launched in South Africa, which recently scooped the international 2020/21 Corporate Livewire Prestige Award, has carried over its finest traits to the American market. While this growth has been taking place, and remaining true to our mission, we have not skipped a beat in serving the online students of South Africa in the process. The Prestige award was a great honour, one that drove home the message that all online students and stakeholders should be assured of exceptional service in a safe, online school environment. Now we aim to bring the same standard of online schooling to the United States of America.

Energised, excited and exhilarated

There is no better time to use some alliteration to express the sheer joy and passion we are moving forward with as a team and organisation. Think Digital Academy is an online schooling brand that we will grow from strength to strength, but never losing sight of our online students, ensuring they always have the best available education and service delivered to them.

“Our online students are our why, they are our purpose. And everything Think Digital Academy keeps striving to do, will have these fine, young people top of mind” emphasises Janessa.

You can find more information on our online school curricula or feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have.

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It has been estimated that globally 50% of jobs currently in existence will not exist by 2030 and our children are not protected from this reality. The global transformation currently underway, called the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), entails the convergence of all digital, physical and biological technologies. It is predicted, that by 2020, 4IR will have brought us advances in robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, genetic engineering and virtual reality.

However, South Africa is already struggling to employ its youth. The country registered an unemployment rate of 29.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019 which is staggeringly high. The question is, can South Africa adapt quickly enough to adequately equip its young people with the skills required by 4IR?

The labour market of the future will require new skills including digital fluency, creative thinking, problem solving, collaboration, empathy and adaptability. Traditional thinking was that the more specialised a person became, the more economically valuable they would be. However, 4IR requires a person to be interdisciplinary – to have sufficient knowledge in other fields outside of their area of specialisation.

Considering that information and communications technologies is the fastest growing industry in South Africa, and that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics sectors are also achieving similar growth, skills in robotics and coding will future-proof our learners and equip them for the ‘jobs of the future’.

According to the World Economic Forum, the top ten emerging jobs are:

  1. Data analysts and scientists;
  2. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning specialists;
  3. General and operations managers;
  4. Software developers and analysts;
  5. Sales and marketing specialists;
  6. Big data specialists;
  7. Digital transformation specialists;
  8. New technology specialists;
  9. Organisational development specialists;
  10. Information technology services

The 4IR is no longer coming, it is upon us. The best we can do as parents, and educators, is to ensure that our students have the necessary skills for future job and labour markets, and have the ability to navigate the uncertain environment of a technology-driven economy. Our education system simply has to adapt, otherwise our children will be left behind.

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Parents play a critical role in providing learning opportunities at home and in linking what children learn at school with what happens elsewhere. The term ‘academic socialisation’ refers to certain kinds of parental behaviours which have a positive impact on learning and academic outcomes. When parents reinforce learning at home by incorporating learned skills into everyday routines and activities, they become a critical factor in their child’s overall learning and education. Research has found that learning becomes more meaningful when the lessons are applied to real-life situations; it has been suggested that the influence of parents on learner achievement is 60-80%, while school accounts for 20-40% per cent.

In particular, parents can have a significant impact on three areas of a child’s learning:

  • Working memory: which refers to short-term memory. Children rely on both incoming information and information stored in their working memory to complete an activity. If they have a weak working memory, they will struggle to juggle both;
  • Response inhibition: this refers to a child’s ability to postpone, withhold, or stop inappropriate behaviour;
  • Cognitive flexibility: is a child’s ability to shift their attention as the demands of the environment or the task change.

In developing working memory, parents can assist their children to remember homework assignment due dates by devising a plan to complete these assignments. It is also beneficial for parents to encourage their child to discuss previous lessons or assignments, and ways in which to apply them in different contexts. Response inhibition on the other hand can be strengthened when parents help their children avoid distraction when doing assignments, and by encouraging them not to abandon tasks if they are struggling. Lastly, cognitive flexibility can be improved when parents help their children recognise when their homework or lesson plan needs to change due to external circumstances, or a child’s mood or emotional state.

Parents also have an important role to play in monitoring and guiding their child’s schooling, this will also provide opportunities for parents to assist their child in setting goals and creating plans of action to meet these goals which in turn develop a child’s organisational skills.

These steps cannot be mastered overnight, but through practice, parents not only enhance the quality of their child’s learning experiences, but also develop a stronger bond with their children.

Mind Power for Kids

Every parent dreams of having a happy, resilient child who can navigate through life and remain positive and focused. We cannot make life easier for our children but we can give them the tools to thrive. Think Digital offers a Mind Power for Kids course which equips children (ages 6 – 12) with the knowledge of how their mind works and how they can use this knowledge to live the life they have dreamed of.

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It is unarguable that education has, for the most part, largely been stuck in a rut. Until now. There are signs suggesting that COVID-19’s disruption of the education sector could have a lasting impact on the way we teach and learn. Our current education model is very much top-down in its approach, where a teacher instructs and provides information, usually only utilising one teaching modality. Yet educational psychologists have always contended that children learn best when they construct their own knowledge, and learn tasks that are culturally relevant.

The spread of COVID-19, and the closure of schools, has become a catalyst for change, forcing us to look for innovative ways for our children to continue their schooling. Educationalists, government and the business sector have come together to utilise digital platforms for teaching and learning. These platforms are opening the doors to more flexible and interactive ways of learning, where the student takes ownership of their educational experience, working at their own pace and engaging with the learning material.

Our education sector, which has long been ripe for change, now needs to adapt to our rapidly changing circumstances, but instead of looking for stop-gap solutions, let’s consider how education can benefit from these changes in the long-run. Can we change how we curate content in a way that benefits both visual and auditory students? How do we make lessons more engaging so that students with concentration challenges remain engrossed and involved in their learning? And most importantly, how do we close the digital divide. The use of digital platforms to replace the classroom means that the quality of learning is dependent on the level and quality of digital access. Unless data costs decrease and access increases, a vast number of our students will not be able to benefit from this educational paradigm shift.

This crisis has also reminded us of the skills our students need in this unpredictable world such as resilience, creative problem solving, and above all, adaptability. The question now is, does our current schooling system facilitate the development of these skills?

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For generations, we have grown up in classrooms where we learnt the same information at the same pace, regardless of our interests or needs – the ‘one size fits all’ approach. The dawn of the 4th Industrial Revolution, and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic, has shone a light on the need to take a different approach to learning and teaching. For example, e-learning, which refers to the use of information and communication technologies to enable the access to online learning and teaching resources, has the benefit of flexibility; convenience; cost effectiveness and immediacy. In addition, a dynamic e-learning platform not only meets the needs of different students, but it also enriches learning in classroom settings.

While many schools are taking a stop-gap approach to e-learning during this lockdown period, the need for more long-term solutions has brought to the fore a variety of e-learning options. This can be particularly daunting for many parents, as this is simply not a technology that we grew up with, and of which we have very little experience. As such, it is important to note that effective e-learning is not as simple as distributing traditional content on digital platforms; it requires content to be adapted to these platforms, and aligned with ongoing assessments and support to ensure mastery of the various syllabi levels.

When evaluating the different e-learning options for your child, it is essential that:

  • content is engaging and interactive;
  • learners be guided through their subjects by online teachers;
  • learners engage with their subjects through assignments and projects;
  • learners receive electronic feedback on their learning;
  • learners have platforms on which to interact and collaborate with each other (for example through blogs and discussion forums);
  • there is a way in which parents can monitor their child’s progress.

Based on these criteria, select an option that will ignite a drive for life-long learning in your child. Ultimately, we are at the cusp of an exciting transformation in our education sector, one that will revolutionise the learning and teaching environment, and change your child’s education and employment trajectory for the better.

Free trial

Enrol for our free trial to explore our e-learning environment.

The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant closure of schools, has led to a new educational crisis.

While school closures are important to contain the coronavirus in South Africa, a comprehensive catch-up plan for learners has yet to be devised by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga. The Minister on the other hand, is leaving it up to each province, district, circuit and school to develop their own comprehensive catch-up plan. Currently only ten schooling days will be lost, which will be caught up by shortening the mid-year break, but the length, and extent, of the disruption to schooling is hard to predict at this stage with some experts forecasting that schools will only reopen at the end of April, or even May. The reality is, that very few schools in our country are able to administer e-learning, and critically, to ensure that learning material is adapted to alternative platforms such as tablets.

Many parents are unable to direct their child’s schooling during this period, either because they themselves are working remotely or have younger siblings to take care of. This leads to a significant amount of stress and tension in the home, with further undue pressure being placed on parents, particularly those with children in matric.

In order to assist learners during the shut-down, Think Digital Academy, a registered online school for Grade R to 12, is offering their full curriculum to South African learners for R500 or up to an 80% discount for Term 2. Rather than returning to school, and trying frantically to catch up with the year’s academic programme, Think Digital Academy will enable students to keep up to date with their school year. Parents can rest assured that their children are deriving the full benefit of a normal school day, remotely, through Think Digital Academy’s structured learning programme.

Students will be able to watch lessons, complete activities, projects and even take assessments to measure their progress while parents are able to pull weekly reports on their child’s activity. The CAPS curriculum is available in both English and Afrikaans, and all lessons are taught by qualified teachers, are interactive and perfectly aligned to the CAPS and British International syllabi. In addition, learners will receive free access to Think Digital Academy’s new Coding and Robotics course.

In these uncertain times, Think Digital Academy takes away the ‘what ifs’, and ensures that your child’s education, and future, is not compromised.

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