From obstacles to opportunities – making the adoption of digital education easy
Snapplify’s Shaun Marshall urges schools to see how easy it can be to embrace digital learning
The development of digital technology has been of enormous importance to the education environment. It also continues to open up possibilities for teachers and students, transforming the classroom in a multitude of ways. And yet, despite its benefits, digital education is not always eagerly embraced by schools and educators. The reasons for this can present as real challenges, but I believe that they are not the insurmountable obstacles they are often perceived to be. Rather, these are opportunities to reframe the way we approach digital education.
In my work on Snapplify’s education team, I speak to a lot of schools who feel that they don’t have the infrastructure to implement e-learning. Some schools only have a teacher network, where internet access is limited to educators. Other schools have a computer lab, which gives students access to technology during allocated times. On the surface, these may look like barriers, but in reality, these schools already have the ICT basics they need to begin implementing e-learning; that is, a device (or devices) and access to the internet. For schools with limited or no internet connectivity, an offline solution that does not rely heavily on data and bandwidth is of paramount importance.
At Snapplify we work hard alongside institutions and educators to create solutions that serve education best, regardless of infrastructural challenges. We’ve addressed this challenge with the Snappbox, our award-winning hardware distribution solution for digital educational content. The Snappbox is an effective way to include the core elements of e-learning in unconnected classrooms. In rural Cofimvaba in the Eastern Cape, we used the Snappbox to preload over 2000 school tablets with the Snapplify ebook Reader app and over 300 ebooks from leading publishers. These tablets are being shared among 4000 students in 11 schools. Using the Snappbox has saved institutions like this one over R600 000 in bandwidth costs, and approximately 4000 hours (166 days) in download time – meaning more time for teaching.
Another common challenge many schools face when bringing digital education into their classrooms is resistance or reluctance from educators. This most often comes from a lack of confidence. While the benefits of digital education are difficult to oppose, some teachers’ hesitation to roll out e-learning is completely understandable, especially if they are not up to speed on particular technology. In these cases, teachers sometimes feel intimidated – not only by the technology itself, but by their students, who are au fait with this technology and often quick to say so. In the classroom especially, the teacher must be viewed as the pedagogical authority.
With this skills gap in many schools, it becomes incredibly important to ensure that educators have the training and support that they need to incorporate technology into their pedagogy. In fact, this is so integral to the success of digital education that we’ve incorporated teacher training into our initial rollout for schools signing up with Snapplify, with the option of further training during the year, depending on an individual school’s requirements. Snapplify is committed to supporting our schools and an essential part of this is supporting educators.
Ultimately, the move to embrace digital education is not as daunting as some initially believe it to be. Whatever the ICT setup and skills level, you can make digital education a reality in your school by choosing the correct digital education partner.
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