THIS week the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of South Africa’s (Heltasa) annual conference was held at the Central University of Technology (CUT), Free State, here in Bloemfontein. First of all I must state that the conference was a huge success and I do believe that delegates will talk about it for months to come.

The main theme of the conference was Enhancing learning and teaching through innovation, scholarship and research. To emphasise the importance of innovation we arranged with Mr Duncan Kemp, the Cemea Education Business Development Manager at Apple in Central Europe, the Middle East and Africa (covering about 93 different countries) to deliver a keynote at the conference. The topic of his talk was Educating the Digital Native.

The use of wikis, blogs, podcasting and online media in the distribution of educational content was greatly emphasised in a very energetic and enjoyable presentation.

I think the problem with the uptake of these technologies is the fear of current educators to embrace and utilise new technologies. I often speak to educators and even though they want to use these tools, they are often afraid to take that first step. At the moment students do not have readily available access to the internet and it is vital that this should change. I know this is a problem, but in a few years internet access will be much cheaper and I believe if we start to create the content now we will be ready to provide it to each person of our community wanting to use it.

We should not forget that about 96% of students at tertiary institutions already own cellphones and that this can also be used for effective content delivery. We just need to innovate. As educators we need to embrace new technologies and not run away from them. It can really make a difference.