How 5G powered devices will help bridge digital divide in UAE schools
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How 5G powered devices will help bridge digital divide in UAE schools

How 5G powered devices will help bridge digital divide in UAE schools

Empowering students with the choice of where and how they learn is a big part of the 5G experience

Gulf Business

In March 2020, as Covid-19 spread around the globe, schools teaching more than 90 per cent of the world’s pupils closed down. At the height of the lockdown, around 1.5 billion schoolchildren were affected by school closures, according to UNICEF.

Almost overnight, the coronavirus pandemic transformed how learning is delivered and managed all over the world. Collaboration platforms, such as those from Google and Microsoft, and e-meeting applications such as Zoom were used to deliver online learning. For UAE students, the transition to 100 per cent distance learning went smoother thanks to many of the schools having adopted e-learning in varying degrees since 2017.

Starting August 30, more than one million UAE students returned to school. An ongoing pandemic has meant that schools have offered both 100 per cent online lessons to those who need them and a hybrid model where online learning continues apace with classroom instructions.

Feedback over distance learning has been mixed. For one, online learning can only be as good as your Internet connection. In many cases, learning and lessons were impaired by lack of access to devices, poor audio and video quality, buffering and slow connections.

But one thing is clear: Online learning is here to stay; however, it is on the cusp of a major transformation powered by blazing speeds of connectivity.

5G networks currently being deployed by the UAE and Saudi Arabia will facilitate digital delivery, making it a much more rewarding experience for students and teachers. With connectivity that can be 10 to 20 times faster than those of currently available 4G networks, 5G is predicted to transform how we communicate and consume educational content.

Better education, for all
Using 5G phones to leverage the power of super fast connectivity, students and teachers can access live high-definition video streaming, crystal clear video calls without any lag or buffering, and immersive content.

Empowering students with the choice of where and how they learn is a big part of the 5G experience. When students can access lessons anytime, anywhere, it immensely improves learning outcomes. Using a 5G phone, they can revise lessons when travelling on public transport, for instance, or watch a tutorial on YouTube (which has thousands of hours of free to access lessons available) while waiting for an extra-curricular activity.

Even if they are not able to physically meet families, friends and teachers, students can stay connected through video chats on a 5G phone, helping them stay safer and mentally resilient.

Moving beyond static textbooks, education is being transformed by cutting-edge technologies such as AI and VR, and 5G powered devices enable them to enter the classroom. For example, learning about the human body through a virtual walkthrough of a 3D skeleton, make for an immersive and engaging lesson. History lessons can recreate the scenes of ancient battles – outside the classroom, facilitated by a 5G phone.

Expanding the classroom
For children who cannot attend classroom lessons for various reasons, a 5G phone gives access to lessons that can be downloaded and streamed, without any issues. When 5G enters higher education, the effect will be even more profound. Lessons delivered in a university classroom can be streamed easily and efficiently, helping students anywhere in the world with a 5G phone to access virtual classrooms.

Technology infrastructure is key to this learning model, where streaming and sharing of large video and audio files are required. The seamless and uninterrupted connectivity provided by 5G ensures learning continues without disruption; there are no lags or loss of video and audio that can sometimes be faced with 4G.

As education gets smarter, flexible and more accessible with the use of 5G, it will surely inspire more young people to keep learning, innovating and exploring.

Sanmeet Singh Kochhar is the vice president for HMD Global MENA and India

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