The collision of innovation and technology in education solutions

Posted by Flux on 

13 June 2013


What is trending now?

The lost millennials is a tribe that Dion Chang deconstructed in his seminal e-book “New Urban Tribes of South Africa”.  Chang placed this tribe within the rich tapestry of South Africa’s identities and positioned it as a dangerously overlooked tribe. The lost millennials have been a key conversation point in South Africa’s narrative –  actively wondering how best to solve the education conundrum, youth unemployment and a growing apathy filtering down into this generation with so much potential. What is trending are educational innovations that look to combat the hopeless situation of the lost millennial.

Why it’s important?

With the changing global landscape – access to technology and globalisation increasing; how do these changes influence innovation in education?

Innovations are sprouting globally providing accessible education, not only by academic institutions and specialists but most notably by brands and innovators equipping themselves with the responsibility to help shape the world of tomorrow. There is an astonishing impact of the online revolution on student culture and access to information that means that we can create tailored experiences for the learning process to happen online. The trend seems to be experimentation with putting course syllabi and assignments on a platform that students can access anywhere and anytime. In emerging markets and Africa in particular, the mobile device and what it means in terms of access becomes paramount.

In South Africa, Mxit have launched an education content platform “MLearning” and by the end of 2012 had signed up 5-million subscribers to its educational content and 600 000 to its eight exam revision applications. The key feature of this educational platform is the QuizMax application, which gives learners access to maths, physical science and life sciences quizzes for grades 10, 11 and 12. This has become a popular exam revision application with over 200 000 subscribers.

Perhaps the most exciting is noting brands embrace the challenge.  Again, looking to the mobile device in emerging markets as a solution to the problem. Samsung have launched My Education app. My Education is designed for Indian students, offering over 10,000 videos and 800 electronic textbooks, as well as assessment papers and education information. The content on the site was curated by education specialists.

In more sophisticated markets, where access to the internet is far advanced, there is definite course for direction with the TED brand launching, Ted-Ed.  TED –Ed is an educational program offering video content featuring teachers and educational staff via a dedicated channel on YouTube specifically targeted at primary and secondary school learners.  Another example of the forwardness when it comes to education solutions is gosoapbox, a mobile platform that offers real-time student performance analysis.

Gamification is one of the trends slowly gaining traction in the education sector. Gamification is about introducing gaming concepts to traditionally non-gaming environments to engage users to a kind of systematic problem solving process.  Developed schools in the US have demonstrated how gamification can be used to great effect. MicroWorlds Pro allows students to create dynamic, interactive school and Internet projects using the most powerful Logo ever developed.

Butterfly effects

The true effects of this are yet to be magnified, but with an outlook of what is happening globally, it becomes evident how a paradigm shift is taking effect in solving some of the deep challenges within education.  In the climate of today, perhaps the key is the collusion with innovative thinking and technology. This shift couldn’t be evidenced more by initiatives such as David Kramer and Gauteng Department of Education’s efforts in providing satellite centres for learners to learn via streaming video through the Sci-Bono programme. This goes without saying that in South Africa where very basic needs and finer challenges such as the democratic distribution of internet access; technology may seem a distant solution but still vitally important for the future.

Moreover, the butterfly effects paint a picture of embracing technology and the online revolution to affect change.  These effects are true to the rest of Africa with places like Kenya rolling out mobile applications that focus on learning such as e-limu.  E-limu is an education app that incorporates content correlating to the national curriculum made more interactive through animations, videos, songs, music, games and quizzes to make the learning process more fun.

Global hotspots

Developed markets such as the UK, US and China seem to lead the way with an approach of innovative online education solutions recognising the need for e-learning and the role technology has to play. The true global hotspot remains the online sphere through its ability to connect people, spread information cheaply and easily illuminate impervious institutions that place the youth at the centre.

By: Saint-Francis Tohlang

About Saint-Francis

Saint-Francis is a cultural student of life; keenly perceptive and observant of shapers of culture and the post-modern climate. He is obsessed with contemporary culture and the human carnival. His research areas and interest are media markets and strategies, communications, youth culture, mobile culture and the online media ecology strongly rooted in an anthropological perspective. Tohlang has an MA in Media from UCT.

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