SU launches innovative online learning platform for high school learners

Dr Benedict Khoboli

Stellenbosch University (SU) launched SU Advantage, an innovative online learning and teaching solution on Thursday March 17.

The SU Advantage, online tool, focusses on supporting high school learners and teachers in Grade 10, 11 and 12 (Further Education and Training Phase or FET).

It can be accessed from any smart device, and combines short, effective learning content with live interactive educational support focused on the most important topics that learners need to understand to improve their comprehension of crucial lessons taught in class.

Amongst the guests at the launch event at Stias in Stellenbosch were Professor Thuli Madonsela, Chair in Social Justice at SU’s Faculty of Law; Professor Nico Koopman, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Social Impact, Transformation and Personnel; Dr Benedict Khoboli, Director of the SU Centre for Pedagogy or SUNCEP, and Professor Mbulungeni Madiba, Dean of the SU Faculty of Education.

Professor Madonsela, stated in her keynote address that SU Advantage would build on social justice in democratic South Africa. “SU Advantage can contribute (to social justice) primarily through advancing access to education information and knowledge, bridging the gap and minimising isolation of many historically disadvantaged children and educators.

“Many young learners can now access education. SU Advantage is one of many building blocks in solving the economic educational inequalities,” she said.

Aligned with Professor Madonsela’s observation, the platform’s educational support is not only easily accessible but also focuses on 11 school subjects. These subjects are offered in English and comprise short-form video lessons, topic-based assessments and quizzes, consolidated workbooks, memo-based reconciliation and in-depth live lessons.

“Recognising the challenges that the country’s education system is currently facing and the economic impact Covid-19 has had on many families, Stellenbosch University decided to create this accessible online solution. Our Vision 2040 states amongst others that we’re inclusive and innovative, advancing knowledge in the service of society.

“An initiative like SU Advantage is perfectly aligned with our vision and will have a positive impact in the communities we serve,” said Professor Wim de Villiers, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor, in a video message at the event.

Pioneering the initiative is Dr Khoboli. “Educators are under increasing pressure to improve pass rates and learner performance. However, the reality is that resources are limited, and classrooms are simply too full to accommodate the needs of all learners,” he says.

“Our goal is not to replace traditional mainstream schooling, and SU Advantage is therefore not an online school. Instead, SU Advantage is meant to enhance and amplify what learners are exposed to in classrooms,” says Dr Khoboli.

The content and resources developed for the platform have been created in alignment with generally accepted pedagogical principles, explains Dr Khoboli. “All resources available on the platform have been created by experienced educators, who are teachers that have excelled in their teaching careers. Simply put, the learning material available on SU Advantage is of high quality and designed so that it ensures a holistic understanding on the side of learners.”

Building on SUNCEP’s years of experience with learner enhancement programmes in the FET phase, SU Advantage is now available in the open market.

It can be used by any learner who subscribes to the platform. “Covid-19 brought about the opportunity to refine and expand the programme and adapt it to be applicable for a mass market,” explains Dr Khoboli.

According to the university, SU Advantage boasts a range of career guidance tools, which effectively assist learners in getting a bird’s eye view of exactly what is required of them to pursue their dreams. These tools include online aptitude tests, which are seamlessly integrated with the university’s available courses so that learners can get a clear sense of the fields of study best suited to their personality and school performance.

Parents and learners can register to use SU Advantage by visiting www.suadvantage.co.za.