It is an inescapable fact that COVID-19 has changed the landscape for many industries over the past few months, and will likely leave an indelible mark on how our society operates moving forward.

Nowhere is this playing out more than in the education space, with parents, teachers and children alike returning to schools with a great deal of uncertainty. While the future is an unknown factor at this stage, there are some institutions and educators that are better prepared than others.

Much of their preparedness comes down to the fact that they were unafraid to innovate and looked to technology as a vehicle to improve upon the way students are taught, before the world knew what COVID-19 was.

The changing landscape

Now that it has become the new normal, however, technology will play an increasingly important role in the way children learn and how teachers impart information.

Speaking about this subject matter recently, as well as what the future may hold as far as South Africa’s education landscape goes was Stanton Pillay, CEO of local solutions provider iTMaster.

He was joined by a panel of industry experts brought together by Terrapin’s EduTech Africa, where all give their insight into the current education space.

From Pillay’s perspective, it was on the importance of collaboration, which is something that iTMaster is able to lean on thanks to partnerships with the likes of HP Inc, Microsoft and others locally.

The digitally deprived

The CEO has also provided some insight into how learners have adjusted to changes as a result of COVID-19 and the country’s lockdown – identifying three types of learning situations.

The first is learners who have been quick to embrace technology, and are quite adept at using online tools. For these learners the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown has been less of a burden, and potentially provides the best example of what education should look like in coming years.

The second, and perhaps most common, learning environment is a blended one, where a mix of online and in-classroom learning takes place. This is likely the happy medium that South Africa aims to find itself in, where teachers, parents and technology work together in order to help educate the learner.

It has also highlighted the importance of teachers for many parents, Pillay adds.

The third, and as the CEO painfully points, is the most common situation, especially in rural areas where students have next to no access to the necessary online tools or technology in order to carry on learning.

Here Pillay makes mention of the “digitally deprived” to describe learners in many rural areas of the country. He also stresses that this is one area that South Africa’s education system truly needs to close the gap and democratise education, making it freely available wherever possible.

Local initiatives

In order to drive such a vision, Pillay cites the recently launched BeOnline platform that the company helped launch together with HP, which aims to be available to schools and learners in the country between now and the end of the 2020 school year.

It will offer schools free access to a collaborative learning tool, as well as a suite of services around it.

This is but one of the examples where collaboration between technology solution providers and educators will prove pivotal in addressing the challenges of South Africa’s changing education landscape.

To find out more about iTMaster, HP’s education partner, and discover how they can collaborate with your school or institution to advance schooling through technology, head here.

[Image – Photo by Santi VedrĂ­ on Unsplash]
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