With today being Digital Learning Day, we would like to address how e-learning impacts developing countries and how it has been affected by COVID-19.
Digital learning or e-learning is fundamental in developing countries and regions throughout the world. The opportunities in tech provide students of all ages a career in lucrative sectors, such as IT. Those in developing countries who can gain digital learning access participate in creating innovative apps, software, hardware, and systems that improve businesses and their economies.
Education Systems Around the World
There are many initiatives to teach children and young adults, through unique technologies and platforms (EdTech), how to better their academic opportunities. Noted as the largest financier of education in the developing world, The World Bank Group (WBG) offers many activities and programmes for children and young adults to access EdTech. Egypt, Pakistan, Gambia and Burkina Faso are just a few of the notable projects that the WBG have implemented in education systems worldwide.
In Egypt, digital learning tools and a new computer-based student assessment and exam system are offered to educators and students as part of the Egypt Education Reform Initiative. To find out more, click here.
The Sindh School Monitoring System in Pakistan enables teachers, students, and school facilities to be tracked more efficiently and transparently. To find out more, click here.
In The Gambia, the READ project provides public schools with broadband and curriculum-linked dynamic e-content. To find out more, click here.
Burkina Faso EdTech
A Higher Education Support Project in Burkina Faso is creating a new Virtual University to diversify higher education delivery methods. To find out more, click here.
Digitalising Rural Education
One crucial point to consider with many developing nations looking to improve their digital learning is the ratio of services provided to urban vs rural populations. India is a prime example of how that concern can significantly impact government decisions on implementing digitised learning. In rural India, nearly 60 per cent of students, up to the age of ten, lack necessary reading skills and single teacher schools continue to be a significant concern in rural parts of the country.
Teachers in rural India also have limited training in digital tools usage, exposure to technology, and critical EdTech. Additionally, there is a lack of general infrastructure in rural schools. However, this has begun to change under E-Kranti, a government initiative to promote EdTech and digitise India. This Digital India initiative has already collaborated with various tech and telecommunication service providers to enable India's remote areas with the required infrastructure to have access to the internet. Nevertheless, currently, only 9% of rural India has internet access.
Popular Learning Technologies
There are plenty of free websites online to help promote EdTech. Ranging from a wide variety of topics and skill levels, the following list of resources would be a great start for anyone looking to engage with e-learning.
E-Learning for Kids
E-Learning for Kids is a fun, educational and free resource that covers elementary Maths and Science topics. Used in 118 countries and by some over 38,000 schools worldwide, E-Learning for Kids is aimed to reach 100 million children by 2025!
EdX is a resource that is geared toward young adults, graduates and post-grad professionals. This American open online course provider hosts free classes. While most of the content is university level, there are also more beginner courses across various disciplines.
OpenLearn is a free EdTech website. They offer some 900+ short courses alongside articles, quizzes and a host of interactive games. Subjects covered in OpenLearn include everything from Sports to Law.
One of the more popular online learning platforms, Coursera offers a wide range of disciplines and different courses levels. From maths to business and everything in between, this free resources offers group enrolment and video-led tutorials.
How COVID Has Changed e-Learning
With the coronavirus pandemic impacting many educational systems, remote learning has become infused with the more traditional classroom dynamic. In 2020 schools all around the globe were forced to teach online. In China, an estimated 200 million students were participating in digital coursework. However, the majority of these students lived in urban areas. Yet, with the pandemic's impact in rural and urban areas, there has been a more significant push to herald remote learning to more remote parts of the world. What resulted from the pandemic was the need to create more dynamic solutions to EdTech in emerging economies.
For example, Nigerian start-up uLesson supports network connectivity gaps and addresses high data charges by providing a non-streaming option for their pre-recorded secondary school education content.
In South America, Peruvian start-up Crehana is an on-demand e-learning platform that has seen a 40% increase in users since the pandemic began. They provide free daily online classes to learn new skills during the lockdown.
If resources like uLesson and Crehana have shown anything, it's that the pandemic has reinforced the importance and usefulness of e-learning. Remote classes and online schools are here to stay and may very well be the next step in spreading education to young and mature students worldwide.
However, what we do have to be ever vigilant on is that we help to promote the need for e-learning globally. Supporting online courses in the UK is not enough as there are fantastic talent and eager minds ready to learn and create a more innovative, safe, and cleaner future from all parts of the world.