At our October meetup, 25 professionals from various startups, schools, NGOs & foundations supporting education, participated in the re:learn meetup. Our focus for the month was on the ways technology is disrupting education in Africa.
Here’s a recap for you with major highlights
What is changing?
At first, we discussed a few things that technology had affected in the education sphere and some of the discussed items include:
- Social consumption – Students and teachers can now turn to technology to make learning processes more social. From reading e-books and blogs to watching videos – a process that is visually stimulating, social and engaging. YouTube, TED-Ed, Khan Academy and even Moodle are examples of tools that are shifting classrooms from teacher-centric to a more project-based setting.
- Collaboration – Besides regular teacher-student collaboration, students are collaborating with one another using tools like Google Apps for Education (G Suite) inside and outside the classroom. Teachers are also collaborating with their colleagues to develop differentiated and aligned lesson plans and activities.
- Online Learning: Today, with an internet connection, students can learn anything from history to coding lessons online. Some schools have also created Virtual Learning Environments to encourage learning after school hours.
- Grading, Assessment & Insights: Assessment, scoring, recording and analysis have become less burdensome. CBTs allow students get their results immediately. Some data-driven tools like BubbleScore even allow teachers give tests via mobile devices, or scan and score tests with a mobile device’s camera.
Around the world, these are the latest tech trends in education
- 3D Printing in schools is revolutionising the art of show-and-tell. From printing machine parts, internal organs, arts and craft, students can really see and believe.
- Paper texts and workbooks are giving way as students read textbooks and take assessment online (Cloud). These also allow teachers see which resources are most effective and how students are engaging with them.
- Biometrics are even employed in some schools for student attendance, to borrow books from the library and to detect loss of concentration in online courses using eye tracking technology. That’s goodbye to IDs and library cards
- Holograms are replacing projectors and provide 3D feel too. Soon, teachers will be able to give lessons in classrooms across the world and students will take tours in 3D models of their favourite buildings.
- Students are taking notes, trying out online courses and quizzes (see Efiko), carrying out research and sharing pictures and video from their tablets and mobile devices.
- Solar is the new low-cost power alternative especially for schools in rural areas.
- Interactive smart boards are providing a visual and engaging experience for students and deepening their understanding and retention of course materials.
- Trials with Virtual Reality in the classroom have created immersive experiences for the children and a lot more is expected in the future.
We wrapped up by sharing some suggestions and edTech startups would do well to consider these:
- Curriculum: WAEC, Checkpoint or IGCSE, understand the different curriculums offered in schools before proceeding to develop the solution.
- Content: should be localised but standards should not be lowered.
- Pricing: Whether one-off, premium, subscription-based or installmental payments, school owners love a flexible pricing scheme.
- Support: Always have a support plan for your customers with at most 48hrs response time if and when issues arise.
All in all, research is key. Take time to study the user, get into the classroom and observe teaching practices and learning styles. Ask lots of questions, interviews if need be. Never assume. It is only after you understand that you can truly be innovative.