In few decades, education has evolved tremendously. From one-room schools, segregated schools, to public and private schools, to now e-learning, it has come a long way and keeps changing. Now that technology has introduced and deployed in almost every aspect of the sector, education has become an equal playing field more than ever for people from all walks of life.
Technology has become a very crucial part of life. Like in any other sector, it has now vastly being incorporated into the educational system, transforming the way teachers teach, students learn, the way institutions manage daily activities. It has automated many day-to-day processes bringing much more convenience for teachers, administrators and institutions. Besides, technology has opened up many avenues for learning to people of all age groups. It has also opened up more opportunities for students from low-income families and communities to access to quality education and teachers like never before. Edtech has enabled families who can't afford to send their children to good private schools to help their children attain an education, acquire necessary skills and get job leading them to better quality of life.
In this article, we bring to you some prominent solutions, initiatives that edtech entrepreneurs have developed to help people in low-income communities.
Caching online content for offline use
In places where there is no good schools, children are deprived of access to quality educational resources and teachers. In such environment, caching and distributing digital content can enable students access to vast quality online resources in ways that simulate online environments. The emergence of low cost e-readers has enabled communities to distribute vast amount of books in digital formats to students who read them on small, purpose-built reading devices, making them access to quality education.
Low-cost video to support peer learning and support
The increased availability of low-cost video tools provide opportunities for peer support for teachers who may have received little or no training on pedagogical approaches to deliver their curriculum. In Indonesia, for example, teachers take short videos of their peers and then jointly review and discuss pedagogical approaches, particularly difficult topics, to teach in informal, low stakes ways as part of their professional development.
Besides, schools with less expenditures can think of low-cost video supporting devices to teach their students as they could not afford expensive video gadgets as private schools do.
Accessing local contents
Language often acts as a barrier for most people. They find it difficult to understand things in the process of learning. In such situation, they can opt for digital tools to convert any language into their local language for easy understanding and learn at their own convenience. Using the tool, they can access to and learn any subject without any hassle.
One Laptop per Child
Founded by Nicholas Negroponte, the founder and chairman Emeritus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Labs, One Laptop Per Child aims at providing inexpensive laptop computers to children, especially those from low-income families in the developing world, as a means to bridge the digital divide. Poor children are generally bereft of computer system. This initiative can help them access to technology and learn to achieve better quality of life.
Use of legitimate open source software
Low-income communities prefer to get their children enrolled in public schools or affordable private schools. But at the same time they want their children access to technology, innovations and e-learning. So to combat such issues, open source software came into use. This technology, which makes the human-readable source code of software, gives access to anyone to obtain, openly share, and the freedom to customize it to their local need. In education, it allows teachers to make use of such high-quality software to make classroom sessions more interactive and intuitive at a lower cost.
Below are some of the innovative edtech projects designed particularly to reach out to the students of lower-income communities.
Alison is one of the world’s largest free learning platforms for education and skills training. It is a for-profit social enterprise dedicated towards making it possible for anyone across the globe to study anything, anywhere, at any time, for free, and at any subject level. It boasts of a large number of learners in developing countries.
BRCK began by focusing on designing hardware and software products to help solve connectivity problems specific to many African contexts first but later expanded to cover other counties. It provides hardware, software and connectivity tools to turn any classroom into a digital classroom. Reaching thousands of children in over 100 locations across 17 countries, it enables children in schools access to digital educational tools for better learning.
Not all students have access to internet. This is where the Foundation for Learning Equality (FLE) comes in as a solution to it. FLE, best known as KAlite, is an offline version of the Khan Academy. Building its experience with KAlite, FLE has developed Kolibri, which makes high-quality education technology available for offline use in low-resource communities.
The lack of access to learning opportunities is a complex and multi-dimensional problem. It impacts the overall upbringing of a child. Keeping this in mind, Nandan Nilekani, Rohini Nilekani and Shankar Maruwada founded EkStep. It is a philanthropic effort that is building open source platforms for use by government to help meet a number of challenges. It follows a modular platform that allows for the co-creation of solutions that are non-linear, agile and scalable. Also, amplifies the impact of the current educational ecosystem through partner networking.
Headquartered in San Francisco, World Reader provides free access to digital books through mobile apps and platforms to readers in developing countries.
University of the People (UoPeople) is the first non-profit, American-accredited, online university dedicated to opening access to higher education globally. It is a tuition-free online university that offers accredited degrees, with a strong focus on supporting learners in developing countries.
Low-income communities are always deprived of many things when it comes to education. Children don’t access to quality education and teachers. Infrastructures in the schools are not up to the mark. Most schools still practice traditional method of teaching, which doesn’t help children anymore in today’s digital world. Well, as has in most educational institutions across the world, education technology can help address all such issues and help children in low-come communities prepare for the future. The above mentioned are some of the inexpensive solutions and initiatives created by edupreneurs across the world to help low-income students access to quality education and be equipped with knowledge and skills to be at par with the rest of others.