Paid Post by Eiffel Corp

Technology-based learning during Covid-19: A revolution in education or missed opportunity?

Eiffel Corp, in Partnership with Instructure, is a key sponsor in the CNBC Africa virtual summit with the theme ‘Redefining the future of education’. Myles Thies, director of digital learning services, will be sharing thoughts on technology changing the face of education. To understand the future, we also have to assess the education sector’s current reality, especially within the context of the Covid-19 Pandemic, and its direct impact on technology and education.

Africa is no stranger to disruptions in face-to-face teaching and learning. From protests like #feesmustfall, to natural disasters, and pandemics. The severity of the Covid-19 Pandemic’s impact, however, has taken all by surprise. Forcing institutions and schools to think fast and adjust at record speeds, this pandemic has shifted the delivery of education from face-to-face to virtual. This reactive state was dubbed ‘Emergency Remote Teaching.’

The consequence of this global state of education has been a dramatic shift from instructors teaching in class or in blended learning scenarios, to a mostly distance or online education. The rapid shift was, unfortunately, not as seamless as many would have hoped and many, including digital education professionals were challenged by the prolonged experience. In many cases, educators did not adopt or applied technology for instruction in the form it was meant to be utilised. Instead ERT resulted in a faux-technology based learning environment rather than real, contextualised, connected and applicable learning through technology. Students have not adjusted easily either, facing obstacles such as lack of digital literacy, not benefitting from the online availability due to the lack of usable devices or data, as well as the critical personal and learning community connection that comes from the in contact experience. Many students are citing loneliness and the disappearance of close personal connections as a major challenges to their academic study

This begs the question, how far is the digital divide between students and lack of access? We need to acknowledge that there was a pre-existing divergence between those institutions and educators using technology in a pedagogically sound and learning theory-based manner and those that are simply replicating contact-based teaching though it. This certainly has been exacerbated through the pandemic. In practical terms, technology tools like Learning Management Systems are being used as a repository for content, and not the virtual learning environment it was meant for.  This follows a lack of planning and course design and the fostering of vibrant and inclusive online student and course communities that support learning goals.

In response, we have seen numerous solutions pop up on the educational technology sphere. While many offer some immediate reprieve from the challenges of virtual learning environments, many of these solutions are not sustainable, appropriate for their environment or contextually relevant and therefore cannot keep up with the developing needs of both students and educators in the long term. Misaligned or under-supported solutions may also not take into account the future goals and objectives of an institution, do not encourage scalability and they don’t meet the needs of all stakeholders in the learning spectrum whether at school, university or in the workplace. This is evident in the need for many to supplement their Learning Management Platforms with tools such as Zoom, WhatsApp or Social Media channels.

It is therefore evident that the shift to online platforms has been messy and not as seamless as many imagined it would be. While it certainly is an achievement, solutions implemented with the mindset of emergency remote teaching, or ‘physically distanced learning’ have resulted in a missed opportunity all is not lost. Many lessons have been learned in this trying period and they will no doubt inform the decision of the future and what institutions believe is right for their learners. With the correct support, training and full use of the LMS and all its functionalities Eiffel Corp believes that education in the hands of capable and experienced educators technology can be revolutionary.

“We have been helping institutions realise the potential of technology in education since our inception and it’s something we continue to invest in and perfect. Our best of breed technology and services span the entire student lifecycle. While we offer a range of class leading and custom edtech solutions, we enable organisations working with them to apply the technology and services that are optimal for their unique learning, administration, communication and wellness needs. Our remit covers everything from initial consulting and deployment to support as the institution adopts learning technology in everyday learning and administration activities, remote examinations and even cashless payments. We further support institutions as they then scale, adapt and evolve these technologies in the future,” explained Myles Thies, Director of digital learning services at Eiffel Corp.

“Our extensive local and international knowledge gives us the insight needed to ensure that the tools EdTech have to offer are used to their fullest potential within the African context. We partner with leading companies like Instructure, to bring world class solutions like Canvas LMS to Africa and we walk the journey with institutions to ensure the necessary skills, wellness needs and sustainability are also addressed rather than simply implementing a Learning Management System,” said Thies.

Join Thies has he unpacks the latest technologies transforming the face of education at the virtual summit. The summit kicks off at 10h00 (CAT) on 29 July 2021. Register in advance (free of charge) on Hopin here

Sponsors include Vodacom Business, UCT GSB, The University of Johannesburg, Vuma, Transnational Academic Group, Lancaster University: Ghana, as well as Curtin University: Dubai.

This page was paid for by Eiffel Corp. The editorial staff of CNBC Africa had no role in the creation of this page.