Barbara Mallinson, Obami.
Covid-19 has created the greatest disruption to education systems in human history. The pandemic has affected nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries. According to the United Nations, the closure of schools and other educational institutions has affected around 94% of the global student population and up to 99% of learners in low- and lower-middle-income countries. Ensuring the continuity of learning amid global closures and school closures has been a key priority for governments around the world, many of which have turned to information and communication technologies to deliver lessons. online.
We need to see technology as a catalyst. Technology does not dictate teaching methodologies.
Mmaki Jantjies, University of the Western Cape
“We have to see technology as a catalyst. But technology doesn’t dictate teaching methodologies, ”says Mmaki Jantjies, associate professor of information systems at the University of the Western Cape. That being said, it can promote innovation and fill resource gaps in the education sector. “Open educational resources allow a child sitting anywhere in the world to access learning materials, anytime. It changes our understanding of what learning is – by using technology, learning comes out of the classroom. “
Barbara Mallinson, Founder and CEO of Obami, a digital learning solutions company that creates cloud-based learning solutions for organizations and schools, recognizes that technology is a catalyst for education, but believes that education systems have not recognized it as such in the past. “Traditionally, we have seen technology put aside and only offered through stand-alone subjects like computer studies or computer science. ”
It seems ludicrous that organizations still expect their employees to attend face-to-face training workshops that take them out of the workflow for an entire day, although this turns out to be the least learning method. preferred and least effective. “
Barbara mallinson, obami
What is encouraging, however, is that we are starting to place a much higher value on technology and recognize the important role it can play in improving the way we teach and learn.
When Obami was first launched in 2010, the focus was on basic education. Obami offered a platform to connect teachers, learners and parents with each other. The technology platform supported sharing of rich media content and facilitated digital assessment, allowing users to engage with digital learning materials and with each other. “While we gained decent traction early on – especially with learners – we also encountered some pretty significant challenges, specific to the basic education market. Obstacles included everything from teacher resistance and the cost of data to an unsustainable business model. ”
Mallinson admits the decision to open Obami beyond schools in 2014 was a matter of survival. “We realized that the product we built was extremely powerful and could be used by any organization to facilitate any kind of learning intervention. After all, learning experiences are not limited to basic education. The Obami platform and its services are now available for schools, colleges, small businesses, businesses, franchises, NGOs, and even government.
Twenty years ago, the average employee knew exactly what was required of them to do their job. But today’s landscape has changed, she says. The nature of work is constantly changing and about 85% of the jobs that will be available by 2030 do not even exist yet. More often than not, employees turn to their smartphones when looking for information that will help them do their jobs better. To give an idea, while 23% of workers have taken an in-company course in the past two years, 70% have learned something from an online video in the past 24 hours. “So it seems ludicrous that organizations still expect their employees to attend face-to-face training workshops that disrupt their workflow for an entire day, although this turns out to be the way to go. least preferred and least effective learning. . ”
No one was ready for what hit us with Covid-19, Jantjies says. Speaking with many of the teachers she works with, Jantjies noticed that many of them do not have the digital learning management systems needed to enable them to access educational resources outside of the classroom. What has been encouraging, however, is seeing underfunded schools finding creative ways to make the most of a bad situation and use less advanced, less high-tech tools to keep teaching. For example, some teachers have started using messaging services like WhatsApp to distribute learning materials to parents and students, she says. We have also seen how traditional media like radio and television have facilitated distance learning. This does not diminish the need or the value of more high-tech solutions, it simply illustrates the importance of matching the digital solution to the problem at hand.
Digital transformation is a modern culture – it exists because of our curiosity to explore and test the limits of what we can do, Mallinson notes. Overall, she believes schools have been slow to innovate. When you look at more traditional educational institutions, there is less transformation compared to the workplace, where digital transformation is a given. But that’s because their pilots are so different. “Organizations need to attract customers, generate revenue and generate profit in order to continue to exist,” she says, adding that this motivates them to constantly seek out new ways to be as effective as possible. Technology is (almost) always used as a means to achieve this.
“Schools should move towards a more ‘business-minded’ approach. And businesses could benefit from more focus on learners, ”she said.
When it comes to education, we need to appreciate what technology can do beyond credits, Mallinson adds. From using powerful learning experience platforms to drive engagement and results, to leveraging data to signal the changes a learner – or teacher – can make to increase their chances of success.
“Technology – and in particular the way we use technology in learning – is what will drive the future of humanity. “
* This feature was first published in the June edition of ITWeb’s Brainstorm magazine.