Coding and Robotics education: providing the skills to succeed in a digitised world

It was not too long ago that people in the workforce, across industries, feared mass job losses brought on by emerging technologies. However, as time went by and technology became more widely understood, it became evident that these emerging technologies were offering an opportunity for future employment instead. The Future of Jobs report by the World Economic Forum estimates that about 65% of children starting primary school today will end up working in a job that does not currently exist. In addition, many of the jobs that will continue to exist will become more and more integrated with technology, requiring a foundation in basic digital skills.

Preparing learners for the future

The learners in our classrooms today will become the workforce of tomorrow and they need to be prepared. However, it’s not only about the working world but also about equipping future generations with the skills needed to exist as responsible digital citizens. It’s therefore critical that schools keep up with this rapidly changing environment, by including curricula focused on technology.

Deploying a new curriculum

In 2019, the Department of Basic Education announced the introduction of the new Coding and Robotics Grade R–9 curriculum. In a statement at the time, Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, said: ‘The curricula will ensure that our schooling system produces learners with the foundations for future work, and equip them with skills for the changing world.’ She further explained that ‘our world relies on technology. People with tech-related skills have more options to be successful and shape their future instead of being passive consumers of technology.’ The specific aims of the curriculum include functioning in a digital and information-driven world, applying digital and ICT skills, and equipping learners for successful living in a rapidly changing and transforming society.

This new curriculum comes at a time when talent in tech across Africa is at an all-time high. The e-Conomy Africa 2020 report states that there are nearly 700 000 professional developers across the African continent. By comparison, California in the United States of America has about 630 000 developers. It’s clear that to remain competitive in an increasingly globalised job market and survive in a digital-first future, learners in South Africa must receive training in tech-related subjects to develop digital skills. However, the implementation of these subjects will determine their success.

The challenges

Despite its many benefits, tech-related subjects such as Coding and Robotics pose many challenges, especially in an inequitable environment like South Africa. Various education stakeholders have expressed valid concerns about the new curriculum, of which two of the biggest concerns raised are access to costly technology and adequate teacher development.

Shuter and Shooter Publishers partnered with Mauritz Kotzé from SchoolCoding South Africa to develop a product that could encourage parents, learners, and teachers to tap into these benefits whilst addressing the challenges. Shuter’s commitment to serving the educational needs of a changing southern Africa, coupled with Kotzé’s passion for coding education, led to the Top Class Digital Skills Grade R–3 workbooks and teacher guides. 

Making quality Coding and Robotics education achievable

The first challenge facing the roll-out of the curriculum is related to accessing costly technology, such as software and devices. This is perhaps the most pertinent challenge. If not addressed, there’s a risk that the disparities between well-resourced and under-resourced schools will continue to grow. Additionally, schools may avoid implementing the curriculum for fear of the cost implications.

One way of preventing this is to offer low-tech, cost-effective classroom solutions for Coding and Robotics, such as those found in the Top Class Digital Skills series. One of the key principles that underpin the series is accessibility. Kotzé’s vast experience in facilitating coding clubs across a wide range of South African schools have given him the insight needed to develop unique activities that can be used in various contexts. Throughout the series, learners are encouraged to actively participate in activities that require only readily available and affordable objects, for example, crafting robots from cotton reels or cereal boxes. Learners develop an understanding of the principles of computational thinking and the engineering design process, without the burden of expensive devices and software.

In South Africa, 70% of schools are low-fees or no-fees schools. This low-tech approach helps schools cover the work set out in the curriculum without excluding learners from low-income backgrounds. All learners deserve to learn Coding and Robotics in a fun and relevant way and access to resources, or a lack thereof, should not determine whether learners gain essential digital skills. Quality Coding and Robotics education is achievable by focusing on developing low-tech solutions.

The second challenge is teacher development. With numeracy and literacy competence at the primary school-level being problematic, it’s no wonder that many stakeholders are concerned about adding another subject to the teachers’ load. Most teachers also have little to no prior experience with Coding and Robotics. For many, teaching this subject is a daunting prospect.

The Department of Basic Education aims to overcome this by providing country-wide Coding and Robotics teacher training. However, this will be only the first step in ensuring meaningful learning in the classroom. Support and the correct products will be vital if teachers are to succeed at teaching new curriculum. Teachers will require resources that provide detailed, accurate, and simple-to-use explanations and answers. Shuter’s thoughtfully developed the Top Class Digital Skills series with this in mind. The teacher guides will be especially helpful to teachers who have a limited knowledge of Coding and Robotics.

Ensuring success for all learners

As the world becomes more and more fused with technology, the onus is on the education system to prepare learners to harness the potential it offers. Coding and Robotics is not simply about learning to code or building a robot. Instead, it provides the basic skills necessary to live and work in a digitised world.

As Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, says: ‘Code has become the fourth literacy. Everyone needs to know how our digital world works, not just engineers.’ The only way to guarantee that all learners are ready for this future is by offering low-tech solutions that can be used in every school in South Africa and providing teachers with the support needed to teach effectively.

You and your eBook – Part 1 – Choosing a tablet

With education moving towards a digital platform, many parents and teachers are wondering which mobile devices to buy and how it all works. This new educational world can be very confusing for those of us who are inexperienced with technology.
In the following weeks we will be answering these questions and look at providing you with all the information you need to make an informed decision when it comes to learning on your mobile device.

Choosing a tablet

This week we start with what to consider when choosing a tablet:
When it comes to learning from a mobile device such as a tablet, the range is quite extensive, from really cheap devices to the most expensive.. You might be tempted to just buy the cheapest on the market, but this may not be the best choice in the long term.
Money always plays a factor when buying a tablet, but bear in mind the following:

  • cheap tablets often have a poorer battery life. You don’t want to keep having to charge it up, especially in the classroom.
  • cheap tablets often have less memory and features than the more expensive models
  • you will need to insure the device against damage or loss – factor in this cost.
  • a cheap option can sometimes end up more expensive in the long run.

It is a good rule of thumb to buy the best tablet you can afford. It should last longer and have more features than a cheaper alternative.


Once you have decided on your budget, do your homework! Talk to friends and other parents about their choice of device. Read up on the different devices available on the Internet. Chat to the school, which may be able to give you some guidance.


Who will be using the tablet? Young children tend to need more robust devices with protective casings and covers. In our experience the cheaper devices when used everyday tend to not last past the year, and mid-range devices tend to last 2-3 years.

Screen size

When reading on a tablet, we recommend a minimum screen size of 10”. The 7” screens make reading harder which might lead to a poorer learning experience.


Wireless connectivity (WiFi) is a must, this enables the user to connect the tablet to networks as well as the Internet. This allows you to download content on to the tablet. Most tablets come with built-in WiFi.
3G is not required in most cases, however if you do need to be connected while out of reach of a WiFi network, or don’t have a reliable internet connection you might want to consider this option. 3G will incur mobile data charges as it uses a mobile network.

Storage capacity

Storage capacity refers to how much can be stored on a tablet. Storage is usually measured in Gigabytes and Megabytes.
A Gigabyte (Gb) consists of 1024 Mb (Megabytes).
As typically enhanced school books can consist of a couple of hundred Mb per book, we would recommend buying a tablet with 8 Gb minimum storage with an additional 8Gb SD card (make sure the tablet has the ability to take an SD card if smaller than 16Gb). 16GB of storage should be more than enough for educational purposes.

Battery life

Typically a school child will be using the device for up to 8 hours while learning. Make sure that the tablet has a battery life of at least this time. The longer the battery life, the better, because children often forget to charge their tablets!


Most tablets come with a built-in camera, but this is not essential, and shouldn’t be a major consideration when choosing a tablet. However, cameras are fun for children and could add to the learning experience by helping learners take photos for assignments and projects..

Choose wisely, and make sure that you get the best value for your money!

Shuters at the South African Book Fair 2015

Hopefully we got to meet some of you this year at the Turbine Hall for the 2015 South African Book Fair!

Shuters SA Book Fair

Sa Book Fair 2015 Stand

As usual, our stand attracted a great deal of attention, with visitors to the fair getting a chance to experience our interactive e-books. The exciting offer of free e-books certainly caused a stir!

Our other high-quality printed material was also available and we got a chance to network with our customers, education officials and, of course, school learners. It was great to make so many new friends!

If you missed us at the Book Fair, make a plan to catch us at the Digital Education Show in October.

Free E-books for all!

shuters free ebooks
In a bold move for E-Learning in South Africa, Shuter & Shooter Publishers have taken a step to assist in bringing modern teaching and learning techniques to classrooms across South Africa.
In an interview, Sibonelo Mkhasibe, the e-marketer from Shuters, said “We have noticed some reluctance in schools to purchase e-books without knowing how they will work in the classroom. Many schools have already spent their budgets on physical books this year, and cannot afford to spend more at the moment. This is why we at Shuters are giving away a FREE 1-year licence on any of our Grade 1 to 12 Core CAPS titles, purchased before 31 January 2016, through our e-book store.”

This will allow schools that could not afford or are hesitant to take the step into the future of E-Learning, to explore the possibilities this medium offers.
Shuter & Shooter’s proprietary Edu-reader application (available for Apple and Android devices) allows users to read their e-books. This app brings extra resources such as a calculator, conversion tool, notes, bookmark feature, animations, videos and more to their existing CAPS approved material.
This essential tool for E-Learning is available at no cost, downloadable from the Google Play Store and Apple iStore. Once users have downloaded the app, it is a simple matter to redeem the free titles from the Shuters e-book store. Shuters will also have a helpline available from 7am to 8pm, 7 days a week, which can be contacted on 080 7488 377.

Shuter & Shooter Publishers have always believed in the importance of education and in giving back to the community, and hope that this bold initiative will help to expose learners and teachers to the potential that this new medium holds for education in South Africa in the future. – CEO , Primi Chetty


Digital publishing and eLearning

Here at Shuters, we have embraced the many challenges and opportunities afforded by digital publishing, to re-look at our existing product offerings.
These include the exciting animated foundation phase products we have created, the interactive activities we have loaded into our ebooks and the large number of platforms we are now able to distribute our content on.
Because digital publishing / e-learning is still a very new experience to most learners, parents and teachers we have decided to help you get a feel for the digital learning experience by giving everyone a 1-year free license to two of our learner’s books :

Life Sciences Grade 10

Download Life Sciences Grade 10

Natural Science & Technology Grade 6

Download Natural Science & Technology Grade 6

In addition to this, we have made all our educational books available for a 2 day free trial period, so that you can get a chance to try out the exciting material we have on offer.

With all the different types of interactive electronic devices available today, you need to be able to experience our eBooks on the device that you already own, this is why  our eduReader app is available on both Android and iOS (iPads and iPhones) and soon to be released on windows.

To get your free licenses you will have to :

Step 1 : Download the Shuters eduReader for Android (eg: Lenovo, Samsung etc tablets) and iOS (iPads and iPhones)

Step 2 : Create your Shuters account at

Step 3 : Click the buy button on the two promotional books (Life Sciences Grade 10 & Natural Science & Technology 1 year licenses) from our website

Step 4 : Check out. (no credit card or payment information needed)

Step 5 : In the eduReader you downloaded earlier, simply login navigate to the Licenses tab and download your two books.

 * These promotional books are only available with our eduReader application.

Creative writing tips : Part 1

Woman writing at desk.

Those of you who enjoy reading probably have often read a short story and thought “I can do that … in fact I am sure I could write better than that!”

You might even consider entering  creative writing competitions for schools such as the one sponsored by UKZN. Have a look at this link for more information:

Here are some handy tips and useful advice to help improve your creative writing skills.

Write about things you know

When you are doing creative writing, your story should be credible (believable). The best way to make sure of this is to write about things, people or situations that you know well. It is always easier to describe something you have experienced yourself.


Short stories usually have a small cast of characters, and the main character arrives at the end of the story, having been changed by the events of the plot. Think carefully about your characters and make sure that they and their actions are believable.

Structure your work

Short stories in particular, should follow a story arc. An example of this is shown below:

Story Arc

Exposition or beginning

The background information on the characters or setting is usually explained at the beginning of a story. In most cases, the exposition forms the first part of the plot.

Rising action

This is the part of the story where conflict is introduced and things start to become complicated. The conflicts generally keep the reader interested, and wanting to find out what will happen next.


This is the most exciting part of the story. Usually this is the point at which the main character faces the biggest danger or risks losing everything. These dangers can be external or internal.

Falling action

That part of the story that happens after the climax. The problems or conflicts start to get sorted out.

Resolution or Denouement

(pronounced DAY-noo-ma)

This is the ending of the story when all the conflict comes to rest.

This wraps up the first article of our writing tips, be sure to follow us on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss Creative writing tips : Part 2. If you feel you have additional writing tips feel free to comment below.

Tell us your most feared subject!

Starting a new school year can be quite intimidating, especially when you are going back to face those subjects that you just haven’t quite mastered yet!
Well, we want to know which subjects scare you, so we can create some awesome content to help you overcome and master those problem areas and unleash your inner TOP CLASS student!
Take part in our poll below, and then leave a comment. Remember to be specific, because the more specific you are the more targeted our content will be! We will be posting the content up on our blog so keep an eye out for those lessons!

Which subjects do you fear the most this year?

View Results

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Shuters E-Books in Action!

The Shuters e-learning team had great fun when they visited Clarendon Primary School late last year to introduce some of the Grade 7 learners to our fantastic e-book products.

Not only did we have fun – so did the learners, judging by some of the ‘selfies’. Have a look at these…

On a more serious note, however, it was great to see how using the e-books made the subject come alive for the learners. This trial gave us all a chance to see how effective e-books can be as a teaching and learning tool.

Their Grade 8 teacher, Miss Barker also praised the new technology, saying:

This is another completely different dimension … the children are excited to want to learn again, and you can have fun with your classes…

Behind the scenes at Shuters e-learning

Behind the scenes at Shuters House

By now, many of you will be familiar with Shuters’ innovative e-learning material. But what exactly goes into creating an e-book? We spoke to Shuters’ interactive media expert, Francois Marais:

How does Shuters go about creating their e-books?

The process starts with our publishing department. Their knowledge of the books helps to identify content which is best suited to interactivity. Our e-learning department then carefully researches, storyboards and develops the content to create engaging media for both learner and teacher.

We also do a number of quality checks to make sure that the interactions are up to our high quality standards. When the media is approved it is placed into our e-books and made available for purchase from our online store.

Does this mean that you just change the books into a PDF or similar format?

No. We take pride in being more that just paper behind glass! All books bought from the Shuters e-store come with many additional features.

So what else do you do to make your e-books so special?

Simply put, it’s our additional content. We have spent a lot of time developing the extra media. We can then enhance our books with animated media, video and audio clips and photo galleries.

This means that the learner can grasp and explore even the most difficult concepts in a new and fun way.
Our additional tools that help users include a calculator, dictionary, notes, bookmarks, drawing tools and a conversion tool.

At Shuters we realise that not everybody learns at the same speed. This is why our media can be paused, restarted and progressed at the learners’ or the teacher’s pace.

Our handy helpline offers support to all customers who are using our Shuters e-products. We think it is really important not only to provide amazing content, but to help teachers, parents and learners through the transition to this new way of teaching and learning.

We are not just selling you a book, we are selling you a service.

Where do you see e-books going in the future?

E-books are the future, and technology will only get better and better. This will help us to provide great learning experiences. We will keep innovating to bring you a cutting-edge product. Free upgrades will be available to all our customers during our development period. Remember, here at Shuter & Shooter publishers we are committed to empowering our nation through education.