Imagining the future of education

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While the most recent shift to blended learning has happened quite quickly in the wake of the pandemic and lockdown, the education technology landscape of the future is likely heading in an even more integrated, accessible, and intelligent direction. . This is evident based on the opportunities that a more digitally integrated curriculum presents.

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The push to adapt to virtual learning after the outbreak of Covid-19 almost forced educators, parents, learners and government to recognize that online learning was no longer a pipe dream, but a absolute must to ensure learners could stay on track with the school year.

In the process, the digital divide that has long existed in South Africa has become even more apparent, as many learners across the country – especially those from poor and rural communities – have struggled to connect to learning opportunities. online learning and as a result have fallen further behind. . In many unfortunate cases, learners have dropped out of school altogether.

Invest in education

As South Africa’s education sector learns to find its feet in the digital learning space, the country has welcomed large-scale investments in education technology. Important initiatives like the UCT Online High School which opened this year, and FoondaMate, which allows learners to easily download a host of learning resources via WhatsApp, are just a few examples of these investments.

Other initiatives include iSchool Africa, an NPO that provides learners from disadvantaged communities with digital libraries consisting of a mobile iPad lab specially designed for use by all learners in different classes in a school. Fiber network operator, Vuma, has joined by providing free fiber connectivity to all schools that fall under their network and are part of the iSchool Africa initiative.

“Our goal is to not only play our part in helping to bring meaningful digital experiences to classrooms across the country and create access to opportunity for all, but to ensure that we also help achieve the service delivery priorities to schools and colleges, as well as to unemployed youth,” says Lianne Williams of Vuma.

These investments in more connected learning opportunities for learners in South Africa are paving the way for the transformation of traditional learning experiences. For example, the growing adoption of digital technology is creating more room for the use of immersive technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality, allowing learners to experience the “classroom” without needing to be physically present.

Personalized learning

The increased adoption of digital technology could also make learning more personalized to the needs of each learner. For example, in the case of learners from disadvantaged backgrounds who may struggle with particular subjects, artificial intelligence can alert an educator of their progress and weak spots, allowing them to offer the learner extra lessons or more individual learning time to close the education gap.

Having all of this information at their fingertips means that educators and institutions can easily identify and measure the effectiveness of how programs are taught and make adjustments where necessary to prevent students from falling too far behind.

Digital technology has paved the way for a wealth of education and learning opportunities waiting to be tapped. As demand for smoother digital learning experiences continues to grow, it is critical that South African stakeholders at all levels – from government and private sector to educational institutions – take the necessary steps that will allow learners to take full advantage of all these opportunities, in order to build the bright future they deserve.

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