Many industries experienced a standstill from the onset of the pandemic, and technology seemed to be invincible until everyone turned to their mobile devices and computer systems. Then it started to crumble under the weight of demand. But that did not last long.
Companies mandated their staff to work from home, and freelancing became the greater order of the day. Streaming platforms bore the brunt of closed cinemas and entertainment hubs, and education is now mostly online.
All these, on the back of technology.
A while ago there were conspiracy theories that 5G was a plan from a country to take over the world, but more people are now concerned with the importance of seamless interconnectivity and the ways we can leverage technology to have better lives.
As schools have been shut down to protect children and vulnerable people from spreading or contacting the viruses, countries around the world have seen an increase in educational technology systems to keep students busy while at home. Edutech or Edtech, as commonly abbreviated, is a combination of IT tools and educational practices aimed at facilitating and enhancing learning.
This article will highlight how some countries are applying technology to support remote learning, as the pandemic ravages on.
Cote D’Ivoire Ministry of National Education launched distance learning courses on its online education platform called Mon école à la Maison (My School at Home) in March 2020. The platform mainly houses educational resources for preschool, elementary, middle and high school students, organized by grade. It also has resources for students of technical education and professional training level.
Under the educational platform, the Ministry launched educational lessons broadcast via television as well as radio, in collaboration with UNICEF with support from a Global Partnership for Education grant of US$70,000.
The Dominican Republic created a central portal containing curated content, classified by grade for public and private sector schools. They are using radio and TV to support learning at home and are preparing additional content. Several companies have stepped up to disseminate learning content and related information.
They are also creating free wifi hotspots for learners and also supporting the creation of WhatsApp groups to provide additional support.
In Ecuador, the country has developed a guide for teachers, who have been asked to engage continuously and continue with professional development activities. Ecuador has created a dedicated email address and a telephone number to answer questions. Virtual classrooms are being developed at the higher education level
It has created a video tutorial explaining how to use educational resource websites and is working on producing videos for the younger kids as well
More than 800 digital pedagogical resources are being shared using social media as well as via traditional media coverage such as radio and television. Materials are also available in audio format in order to reach remote areas.
Prior to the pandemic, virtual learning environments are widely used in Finland, including in regular school circumstances. The Finnish National Agency for Education guides schools to plan and organize different kinds of flexible learning arrangements.
Some of the most commonly used tools where students are able to conduct projects and tasks independently and attend classes online are Moodle, Google Classrooms, Ville, Teams, O365, Skype and Zoom. Games and simulators are also already used in education, with examples like VirtualAutoedU, Sandbox or DigiVirtu.
It is a well-established practice to arrange communication between home and school through online platforms in Finland. These platforms are used for posting student assignments, test scores, grades and notes/feedback between home and school and they typically communicate with other the administrative information systems of the school. The main platforms used for primary and secondary education are Helmi, Wilma (Primus), Studentaplus and Sopimuspro.
An example of a content repository for students and teachers in Finland is Finna, an open service that provides free access to online collections and materials from Finnish museums, libraries and archives in Finland. Finna was created as a part of the National Digital Library project, funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture.
India: the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) shared various free digital e-Learning platforms by the Ministry of HRD that students capitalize on to continue their learning during COVID-19 based school closures.
The DIKSHA portal contains e-Learning content for students, teachers, and parents aligned to the curriculum, including video lessons, worksheets, textbooks and assessments. Under the guidance of its national board of education (CBSE) and NCERT, the content has been created by more than 250 teachers who teach in multiple languages. The app is also available to use offline.
Swayam hosts 1900 complete courses, including teaching videos, weekly assignments, exams and credit transfers, aimed both at school (class 9 to 12) and higher education (undergraduate and postgraduate) levels. Subjects are aligned to the curriculum and include engineering, humanities, social sciences, law and management courses including robotics.
In Japan, The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) created a centralized website that synthesizes all information related to COVID19 response, including diverse coping strategies that schools have undertaken
School districts and schools have employed different coping strategies. Many of them are ICT-based distance learning (e.g., online-class delivery, video-conferences, groupware based instructions).
The Ministry of Education in Kenya shared guidelines for enhancing teaching and learning for its 15 million students out of school as a result of school closures.
March 23, 2020, four main platforms are being used for delivering educational programs and resources to learners:
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), in partnership with other radio stations, have broadcast radio programs on weekdays.
Education television broadcasts have begun on the Edu Channel TV owned by Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development (KICD).
Television programming is made available as live stream as well as on-demand content via KICD’s EduTV Kenya YouTube channel. In partnership with the Kenya Publishers Association, electronic copies of textbooks have been made available for free on the Kenya Education Cloud for all students.
In order to provide wider internet coverage to all students and families, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) partnered with Alphabet inc: owners of Google and Telkom Kenya to have Google Loon Balloons floating in the airspace. Loon is a network of stratospheric balloons that provide internet connectivity to rural and remote communities.
For Liberia, six radio lessons have been produced for the Ministry of Education’s learning by radio program with the aim to produce 3-4 radio lessons every day.
The telecom operator, Orange Liberia has granted free access (waived data charges) to online educational content to students and teachers while schools and universities are closed via its website called Orange Campus Africa. This means Orange customers without data allowances will also be able to take advantage of these educational materials provided.
Madagascar: To ensure learning continues, the Ministry of National Education and Technical and Vocational Education (MENETP) is collaborating with the media on the edutainment program Kilasy Pour Tous (Kilasy For All) broadcast on television everyday morning. A radio program has also been developed called “Izaho koa Mba te hahay” which also airs in the mornings. The country also launched educational television instruction to support remote learning for students out of school.
Mathematics lessons are presented in French and aimed at primary school students using Teaching At the Right Level (TARL) methodology to increase the impact of the lessons. The live broadcast is also hosted on the YouTube channel ‘RTA Official’ so that they can be used as on-demand content as well.
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