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How technology is redefining education for 2020 and beyond

How technology is redefining education for 2020 and beyond

Covid-19-related disruption is driving innovation in curricula and learning experiences

Covid-19 has forced disruption across a variety of sectors – one of the key and most vital ones being education. According to UNESCO, over 143 countries have suspended regular classes at institutions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 1.18 billion students worldwide have consequently been affected, representing 68 per cent of all learners worldwide.

While several educational institutions shut down their physical campuses, disruption has driven innovation, and they have successfully adapted to virtual learning environments. They use collaboration suites to effectively deliver unique learning experiences and have inspired educators to identify new opportunities and develop more innovative curricula and experiences.

Technology is the fundamental pillar of distance learning programmes, as it enables teachers and students to connect virtually, share content and coursework, and maintain the ‘human connection’ that is so vital to the well-rounded development of young minds. Stronger relationships and more personalised learning experiences can help educators identify opportunities that can assist with learning capabilities and accelerate a student’s potential.

Faith Wambua, school coordinator at Waldorf Woodlands School, Kenya, says that their teachers have transitioned to delivering lessons remotely with ease, and that once a student is logged-in, they remain connected for the entire day. With the technology capabilities of their chosen collaboration suite, teachers can also assign tasks to individual students or groups of students and follow-up directly – all of which helps to strengthen the relationships of students and teachers during the global pandemic.

Free solutions alone are not the answer to such a dramatic shift in education access. The rapid adoption of distance learning initiatives represents a paradigm shift in traditional educational models, which can present a steep learning curve for all.

In Italy, the Liceo School is also extending this to their communication with and between parents, students, and all staff to minimise learning disruption amid school closures. They can securely share documents, coordinate work across teams, and assign and track coursework regardless of where students are accessing from.

Educators have also had to get innovative around various aspects of the education experience, and milestone events in young academic lives have also taken on a digital form.
At the University of Milan in Italy, Yuri Pasquinello, the university’s ICT director, had to find the best way to ‘digitally re-imagine’ the graduation ceremony, with professors, undergraduates, and their families all connecting remotely, and from a vast array of devices.

Coordinating something like this in a corporate environment itself can be challenging enough – imagine a solemn occasion punctuated with sounds from unmuted mics, visuals from cameras in living rooms, and the occasional prank as well.

With physical classrooms now open in the UAE, it’s clear that, in this country, the education sector positions its course material delivery model as a competitive differentiator. But we’re still some time away from students or guardians choosing an education provider based on which collaboration suite they are using.

Institutions need to realise that the education of students balances precariously on the speed of their uptake of technology solutions, and their efficiency and effectiveness in establishing a viable distance-learning programme. For many of these young individuals, digital technologies will determine whether or not their education remains on track this year.

Technology providers bridge this gap, by offering solutions that are suitable for today’s situation and also relevant to an emerging, dynamic education model.

Sumedh Ganpate is senior collaboration practice leader, Avaya International

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