Tech institution removing learning barriers
From before the invention of the QWERTY keyboard in 1868 and up to the ongoing advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) today, individuals have explored and redefined the boundaries of what was previously deemed possible – and it is safe to assume that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg.
Technology has the power to be the biggest catalyst for change in the educational sector, wielding the potential for genuine transformation. Gaynor MacArthur, Director of Sales at Apple Premium Reseller, Digicape, says that one of the most rewarding aspects of her role is being able to support and work alongside other businesses with values that mirror Digicape’s own.
MacArthur references one of Digicape’s clients – ‘WeThinkCode_’ – as an example of an institution disrupting the traditional educational model, aided by technology.
WeThinkCode_, co-founded by Arlene Mulder and Camille Agon, aims to democratise and revolutionise learning; developing digital talent through a transformed and inclusive sourcing process. “WeThinkCode_ is founded on the belief that coding is an important tool which teaches a host of essential and transferable skills, such as problem-solving,” says Mulder.
This model addresses a number of critical challenges South Africa faces, such as the unaffordability of learning, the shortage of skilled candidates entering the job market, and the country’s high unemployment rate. “This aligns with Digicape’s education mandate to facilitate the adoption of Apple technology in classrooms, thus using tech as a tool to transform learning while subsequently addressing many of these same challenges,” explains MacArthur.
So, what does the future of education look like, according to WeThinkCode_?
Removing barriers to learning
Mulder explains that WeThinkCode_ provides a peer-to-peer learning environment where students learn how to solve problems through coding. “Our programme does not require a matric certificate or prior experience – anyone between the age of 17 and 35 can apply. Applicants need to complete a series of online tests, to test whether they have the natural aptitude required and are #BornToCode.”
The initial assessment is rigorous – only a handful of learners who pass the online tests are then invited to attend a four-week Selection Bootcamp. Thereafter, successful candidates are subsequently invited to enroll in the two-year, full-time programme.
“As part of our programme, students gain eight months’ work experience at corporate leaders, such as BCX, FNB, BBD, Investec, Rhino Africa, Nando’s, and more. These companies cover the expenses associated with programme, and they are guaranteed qualified, high-performing candidates which they can employ.” There is no cost to learners, and successful applicants receive a stipend to contribute towards personal expenses such as travel, for the duration of their studies.
Mulder says that WeThinkCode_’s intention is to reshape the way individuals learn. “Our aim is to change mindsets and the approach to learning through peer-to-peer learning and a focus on using certain skills to solve problems – a transferable set of skills relevant across any number of fields; not exclusive to coding.”
Mulder explains further, “Coding requires developers to break down code into manageable, bite-size fragments, tackled piece by piece. This solutions-driven approach conditions the mind to think differently and approach situations from a new perspective.”
WeThinkCode_’s priority was finding the right technology to support their model. Mulder explains that the use of Apple technology at the institution is integral to their business model: “We aim to provide a first-of-its-kind learning experience in Africa, which means we need the right technology to facilitate this. Apple products are easy to manage, occupy less space, use less electricity, and actually incur far less costs over time.”
The price factor was key to WeThinkCode_’s decision to employ Apple technology, through its reseller, Digicape. “A PC’s purchase price is around 18% of its lifetime cost, while a Mac’s purchase price is approximately 50%. This means you’ll spend far less on a Mac over time, as your maintenance costs are likely to remain low, when compared to the costs of maintaining a PC.
“It is great to work with a team like Digicape who not only embody the same values as we do, but are always available for on-site and remote technological support,” says Mulder.
“As a fairly new institution in Africa we are still making inroads, but in the last year we have received over 100 000 applications, provided a peer-to-peer learning opportunity to over 300 learners, and are about to place our cohort 2016 candidates in skilled positions across the country. We look forward to continuing our quest to transform the local landscape; playing a pivotal role in developing the future generation of talented and qualified candidates,” says Mulder.
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