About the Author

Ryan James

Guest contributor

I am the Head of Development at Londolozi's not-for-profit partner organisation, the Good Work Foundation (GWF). GWF focuses on education, in particular helping people living in rural areas to connect to a new, digital Africa and all of its opportunities.

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on Innovative, Collaborative, And Based On The Future: Welcome To Learning, “Silicon-Bushveld” Style

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It is wonderful that the digital learning centers are expanding and that the lodges in the Sabi Sand got involved. It is a wonderful way to give back to the community.

Oh my word Ryan, this is wonderful to see how the initial vision is just going from strength to strength! Just so proud to be involved even in the smallest way – congratulations to you all

Hi Marianna – Thanks so much. Coincidentally our KMSA Conservation Academy students wrote their final FGASA exam on Friday. Fingers crossed 🙂

Well done on the most incredible work. It was an honour to visit and see the difference you are making in young people’s lives.

Thank you Penny. It was such a pleasure hosting you and learning more about the work that is being done in the Western Cape!

What an intelligent and thoughtful plan to help South African get a great start in their. We have visited the Londolozi center and it is wonderful to see the enthusiasm of the students. Victoria

Hi Victoria. It’s amazing how much can come from a single idea. Kate Groch, our CEO, and the early team learnt so much in the Londolozi “learning lab”.

It is heartening to learn that there is wide support from so many of the private game reserves in coordination with local government and NGO ‘s. Knowledge is power and your outreach programs into villages outside of Hazyview is truly a step in the right direction to educate the young adults- preparing them for many types of jobs……. as a former educator in foreign countries, I know how eager students are in rising to educational challenges. Continued success!!

Thanks Denise, we are extremely thankful to be part of this collaboration. As you say, at the end of the day, the goal is to give power to our youth and part of that is allow young people the opportunity to say “I can begin a career” rather than just “I need a job”. The young people we work with are truly inspiring!

Congratulations on your great work. Education that is coming from a positive, and egalitarian influence, is a gift both tho the student, and the rest of the world. It can improve the lives of many, and bring an end to hate and division that is rooted in fear and ignorance.

Technology and access to the world that the internet exposes us to is an important tool in this process. Technology and the use of digital devices have shaped an new generation, and my only caution, is that it is not exalted, or given more importance than local, traditional heritage and culture.

As we see in North America, and many parts of the world, where children have access to a plethora of digital devices such as laptops, iPhones, iPads (both Apple products are used generically here for their categories, as I include other brands of the same ilk), video game consoles etc, the gift of technological progress is not without its curses.

I am sure many are aware of the ever growing epidemic of digital addiction, which has reshaped our culture, leaving us with a health crisis, both physical and possibly worse, mental as well. Generations are growing up without the tools required for healthy socialization, and the feelings of loneliness and isolation, damaged self-esteem and feelings of low self-worth due to social media (the list goes on and on including anxiety, depression, suicide).

We are still waking up to the importance of Nature and the outdoors, as we now have a new label, Nature Deficit Disorder, to describe the symptoms of disconnect modern urban people experience, from never having played outdoors, in unstructured and imaginative ways.

Obviously the children in your centres have access to wild places, and that is so fortunate for them. But introducing digital technology to kids who may not already have had unfettered access, brings with it an ethical responsibility.

We are learning very late in the game (given the insanely rapid pace of change), that these amazing tools can harm as well as hurt. The solution is to introduce these tools with proper context of the dangers, and help create rules around frequency of use, and the importance of real life, face to face interactions with other humans. I know that ‘community’ is a far more concrete idea for people raised in smaller villages, than those growing up in major, sprawling urban centres where ‘fear of other’ and ‘stranger danger’ is the diet fed to children from birth. And I hope that your students are far more connected to the natural world than most here in Canada and the USA, but that is not a guarantee in a world that races to embrace ‘progress’ and assumes all changes are for the better.

I am not suggesting that the children be isolated, and raised in a time capsule free from digital technology. Again, I am no luddite, as I am using my laptop to type this and I frequently read your newsletter on my iPhone, which I love (mostly for the camera). However it seems that you have a great opportunity to learn from recent history, and create a culture of healthy boundaries around digital devices, the frequency of use, and dependence.

Perhaps you have already considered all of this and have fantastic programs and safeguards in place. If that is the case, please share your strategies.

If not, look around and take action. My life is dedicated to helping people disconnect from devices, in order to connect with themselves, each other and the natural world. I would love to have an opportunity to reset the clock, and implement policy based on what we all now know. You may have one of the last, real opportunities to do just that.

I am happy to help, if needed.

Keep up the Good Work.

Hi Jonathan. We agree wholeheartedly and thank you for sharing these extremely important points. While technology has proven to improve access to innovative learning tools, we have always believed in a holistic and thoughtful approach to engaging young people who are on a learning journey. This includes blended learning techniques, but more than that, we have programs that: (1) Include the natural world; (2) Promote connection and support of each other; (3) Bring in motivational leaders and life coaches; and (4) Help young people understand their selves a little bit better. We also engage with volunteers from around the world who work with our students on everything from reading circles, to blogging poetry. There is no tried and tested formula, but certainly we believe in what you are saying!

Thanks for your thoughtful response. Hopefully your work will help usher in new perspectives on other continents. Keep it up!

Stellar example of how individuals and groups can stand together in unison to pass their leadership torch on to the children of tomorrow. Some only talk of possibities, GWF makes it happen with action that is alive and expanding. Congratulations!

Thanks Joanne 🙂

Amazing work, empowering young people to have the opportunities they so deserve. I cannot wait to attend the Lillydale grand opening next month!

Hey Susan – we are counting down the days! 🙂

Remarkable progress in such a short period of time. Seeing a vision become a reality is a rewarding experience. I hope you and Kate (and company) find time to experience the satisfaction of your journey!
The Iona College mantra is “Move the World.” You are certainly doing that.

Hi Vin – always great to hear from our “All Heart” family. As you know the satisfaction of the journey is experienced daily. It is a great privilege to be able to serve. And it has also been a great privilege to be able to serve alongside alumni of Iona – which continues to “lend” us young people who are intelligent, hard-working and empathetic. Thank you for all that you do.

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