In a scenario where technology is empowering every sector of the industry, the education sector is no different.
Today the scope of edtech is accelerating year after year because of its various benefits. But even though private institutions are maximizing the utility of effective educational technology ever than before, there still exists a divide. This gap is visible mainly in the public sector institutions across the world. Many schools in the low-income communities across the world are still practicing the traditional method of teaching. Now the question that appears in our mind is, why are they lagging behind in embracing edtech innovation? Are they not aware of the benefits of technology in the modern education system?
Well, the answer to this question is that these schools often fall short of this idea of the extensive use of technology in imparting education because of large-scale investments. However, understanding the importance of education for the development of any society and that low-income communities must have equal access, there has been the development of some affordable edtech tools. The public sector schools authorities must start using these tools to build the future with sound knowledge. Even in a financial crunch, the good news is it is possible to come up with a low-cost and tech integrated classroom. Thanks to modern science and its inventions! One such is the development of MobiStation by UNICEF Uganda. It is a solar-powered classroom in a suitcase that features a projector and lots of off-line educational content.
Another example is that of empowering digital technology and how Paul Vincent the founder of EnSo is catering the needs of low-income schools in Kenya with the digital tool-tablet. His innovative method helps in imparting personalized teaching through technology and how these students using it can nurture their skills to turn independent in life.
And the imperative low-cost tool which can help the schools in the low-income communities is Informational and Communication Technologies (ICT). Though network in remote areas is sporadic, often unreliable and intermittent; to mitigate such an issue connectivity device like BRCK have been developed to address user needs in places where electricity and internet connections are weak in Africa. Let’s take a look at some of the other innovative ways in which both teachers and students of the low-income community can benefit from some low-cost technology that is not typically edtech tools yet are integral to it.
1. Use of legitimate open source software - It allows the teachers to use high-quality software to make classroom sessions more interactive and intuitive. Some free and open source software is extensively used across Sub-Saharan Africa for deployment of e-learning, e-health, e-government and other purposes.
2. Personalized Teaching through YouTube Videos - Caching and distribution of digital content allow students to get access to classroom lecture courses or online resources whenever they wish to refer them.Similarly, students and teachers across the world have been already accessing learning videos offline on Khan Academy’s website. Check out more on the same here “Offline Access to Khan Academy Videos and Exercises”.
3. Blogging to Raise Online Interactivity - few free of cost blogging sites such as WordPress, Tumblr, Anchor can be used by both students and the teachers to share their insight on subjects with other teachers or students. These sites can help in content dissemination purpose. Further students can even upload their projects and post questions to make it valuable classroom tool.
4. Accessing Free Authentic Site - Websites like Google Earth that can make the geography lessons interactive and Whooo’s Reading again can allow both the teachers, students, and librarians grasp extensive reading facility.
5. Accessing contents locally - Language is often a barrier in understanding concepts with full knowledge. In places where learners are not aware of the major international languages, digital options to convert such contents into local language exist. Using such option where it exists will help in better concept understanding of scientific or humanities when read in local language.
Touching upon some of the inexpensive ways in which low income communities can take a step forward towards edtech will help the public-sector institutions to discontinue the obsolete methods of teaching practices in the tech savvy world today. The idea is to understand that educational technology need not be always expensive. A little research on developing technologies can resolve a lot of challenges existing in remote and low income communities.
Use of ICT and its various sources is helpful beyond imagination but they need to be used judiciously to avoid falling in the pits of cyberbullying.
What are your views? Have you explored similar tools and tips for the low income schools?