E-learning – an essential educational tool, for everyone
In the digital age, the right to a good education is not out of reach
‘Education promotes equality and lifts people out of poverty. It teaches children how to become good citizens. Education is not just for a privileged few, it is for everyone. It is a fundamental human right.’ – Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations
The right to education is recognised by international law in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet, access to quality education has, historically, remained a luxury or privilege, accessible only to the minority of the global population. Now, technology is transforming approaches to education, and opening up new avenues of learning for everyone.
What is e-learning?
E-learning is an umbrella term for any learning that uses electronic resources. This could be via the internet, a computer program, or mobile app, for example.
Why is e-learning important?
For most of us, regardless of location or economic means, the digital revolution has affected our day-to-day lives in some way. Whether you’re reading this article on your phone, computer, or tablet, there’s no doubt that the way we access and consume information has changed in recent years. In 2016, two-fifths of the sub-Saharan African population owned mobile phones. In fact, in some places mobile phones are more ubiquitous than access to electricity. For many young people today, e-learning is not only an effective way to learn, but it is how they want to learn.
Importantly, e-learning gives students further experience with technology, allowing them to develop their digital skills in the classroom and keep up with the rapid pace of digital development – essential skills for the 21st-century workplace.
E-learning also gives students access to a wider range of content types – from notes to videos, worksheets to audio files. Not only does this keep students actively engaged with their coursework, but it also makes it easier for them to digest new information. This, in turn, allows for a more diverse approach to teaching as educators recognise that each student learns in their own unique way.
How does e-learning work in schools?
Many schools are choosing to implement e-learning, but what this looks like differs from school to school, depending on resources and infrastructure. One school may offer digital education through a shared computer lab, which students access during specific lessons; whereas another may have tablets for each student to use in every class, for example. Whatever a school’s ICT setup, e-learning is possible with a device (or devices) and access to the internet.
For schools with connectivity challenges, Snapplify’s Snappbox offers a way to bring e-learning to unconnected classrooms. The Snappbox, an award-winning hardware distribution solution for ebooks, can be preloaded with digital content. Students can then download ebooks directly from their school’s Snappbox, instead of the internet.
How else does e-learning benefit schools?
Digital distribution is not only much easier than organising the delivery of physical textbooks (which often go out of stock, or don’t arrive in time), but is also more cost effective, especially in the long term.
Analysing user data, using Snapplify’s Insights, gives educators an overview of what students are reading, how quickly they’re progressing, and when they’re interacting with content. This invaluable information empowers educators, allowing them to adapt their teaching approach or adjust the course content, according to their students’ needs. This data can also inform annual budgets, allowing institutions to grow optimally.
What e-learning solutions are out there for emerging market classrooms?
Although e-learning itself is a great leveller, allowing the world’s wider population to access quality education, the adoption of e-learning in emerging market contexts does, unfortunately, still come with certain challenges. Schools in these environments are looking for e-learning solutions that meet their particular
Established in South Africa in 2011, and recently having expanded into East Africa (with offices in Kenya), global edtech company Snapplify has strong roots in Africa. Snapplify has worked to understand each unique market in which it operates – from including mobile-money service M-Pesa as a payment option in its East African store, to developing the Snappbox for schools with limited or no internet access.
Named by the London Stock Exchange Group as one of the Companies to Inspire Africa in 2017, Snapplify was also selected for the World Bank’s XL Africa accelerator programme for Africa’s top digital entrepreneurs. More recently, the company was recognised for its work in education, winning an AppsAfrica.com Innovation Award (2017).
At its heart, this is a company working to make digital education a realistic option for schools in emerging markets. As Snapplify continues to roll out its unique e-learning solutions in Africa, more and more students are able to access their fundamental human right – the right to education.