We’ve been talking about digital transformation for years. As I’ve worked with providers in many sectors including education, they’ve often felt that digital transformation was something that was in some undefined future .
Well, that future is now. While the realities of the 21st century have changed the way we access and deliver information, share knowledge and facilitate learning, the ongoing Covid19 pandemic and its resultant effect on nearly every aspect of our lives has raised the need for innovative and functional ways of delivering education services at all levels.
As at today, a third of the world population is under lockdown. People cannot go about their work and businesses as usual; airports, offices, malls and even schools have been closed down to curb the spread of coronavirus. According to UNESCO, 192 countries have enforced indefinite closure of academic institutions affecting over 1.5 billion learners in the various academic levels. This disruption in our education system is a reminder that things have to be done differently.
It is now inevitable to embrace digital tools for the delivery of education content to people. Already various Governments and education service providers have been forced to rethink their processes in the bid to remain relevant and technology is playing a major role.
Though E-learning or Virtual Learning has been in existence for years, the lockdown due to Covid19 has dramatically increased the demands for these technologies. From Asia to Africa, Europe to America, various institutions now depend on virtual platforms like Zoom, Skype, Google Classroom and the likes to teach their students. While UNESCO published on its website a list of Distance Learning Solutions to give access to education content during the period, several existing E-learning platforms like OutSchool and K12 say they have experienced up to 500% increase in global sign-ups since the outbreak of the virus.
Here in Nigeria, the Government of various states have commenced classes on radio and television stations, broadcasting lessons to students directly in their living rooms. Some have also recommended online portals for students to access these lessons through various internet-enabled devices. In the same vein, many private organizations have stepped in to provide help for students to keep learning. For example, Multichoice Nigeria launched a new channel – MindSet Pop to feature educational programmes covering the entire primary school phase, while some other virtual learning platforms are providing free subscription to learners within the period of the lockdown.
All these give credence to the fact that we have to rethink our education model by embracing digital tools. These measures explored now should not just be contingency plans to ensure learning continues during the crisis. After Covid19, we need to incorporate these solutions into our education models and processes. Educational institutions at all levels should build virtual learning into their systems so that their students can continue to learn even when they cannot be within the walls of a physical classroom.
I am convinced we will get through this pandemic. However, when it is all over, we should not return to the way it used to be, all stakeholders – both public and private sectors, must resolve to give the education system in our country a new face driven by technology.