Bridging the gap between what digital technology could and is doing for education

3 Jun

One just has to consider how advanced the rest of the world is in terms of Edtech (educational digital technology) to recognise that Africa has been lagging. International classrooms have seen students using laptops, iPads and tablets for a decade or two already. On top of that, education departments have been making use of various digital tech in schools to boost learning experiences and outcomes in the way of:

  • Robot teaching assistants
  • Virtual classrooms (online classes/lessons)
  • Virtual reality experiences
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Machine learning

Unfortunately, Africa has some significant strides to make before these technologies can be effectively used in our educational environments.

Where Digital Tech is in African Schools

Digital tech in African schools has been relatively stagnant. While millions are spent on getting computers and digital tech into schools and learning centres, that’s where the journey seems to have ended.

Until now, there has been little to no real follow-through. Africa has had computers available in many schools for several years already, but that doesn’t mean that these facilities are fully or properly utilised. In many instances, devices are not used for studies and in some sad situations, they are even stolen.

What the continent needs is smart educators and Edtech entrepreneurs who can bring the skills to actively advance technology within the school environment to ensure that students are getting the very best out of this global tech revolution. Simply providing access to a device is not enough.

Where Digital Tech Should be in African Schools

Digital tech in African schools presents a massive opportunity for tech entrepreneurs to drive development in education by contributing to the development of future technology in schools.

Educators haven’t been “all in” when it comes to Edtech in Africa, and there’s still a great need and opportunity for change. Entrepreneurs should get involved in school-based piloting programs to get their devices and technology out there and to assess how effective they are in the learning environment.

Edtech Entrepreneurs in Africa

Africa has some impressive up-and-coming Edtech entrepreneurs with great products and systems ready to hit the learning environment.

Here are just a few of the young entrepreneurs and start-ups that caught our eye:

  • South Africa (Student Hub – Kabeya Hertzy)

Kabeya is a Cape Town resident and founded his start-up company, Student Hub in 2015. This tech is aimed at government, educational institutions, and students. Students can use Student Hub to access a wide variety of e-books. They can also send feedback and questions to the authors and publishers as required.

  • Uganda (EdTech – Charles Muhindo)

Charles created his website and mobile app called EdTech to assist students with sharing and interacting with each other. Members of EdTech can share notes and past papers as well as course work and revision notes. The app brings together students and educators by placing them onto the same network with different features to cater to all parties. Educators can use the system to upload lesson notes, assignments and discuss topics and classes with students. The content that’s loaded on the system can be accessed both online and offline.

  • South Africa (Obami – Barbara Mallison)

Created by Cape Town resident, Barbara Mallison, Obami is an online community where students, teachers and others involved in the education sector can communicate and connect. Here members can share lesson notes and resources and keep in touch with each other, as long as they have an internet connection. The Facebook design creates a familiar interface for users.

Last Word

While South Africa might not be where it could or should be in terms of educational technology in the classroom, it is certainly beginning to show great strides in the right direction.

Particularly comforting is that the progress we are seeing goes beyond simply dumping a few computers in a classroom. Developing technology provides a unified and supported learning experience that unites students not just in Africa, but even on a global base.

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