We all understand that the world is changing and technology is evolving at twice the rate compared to 3 years ago.
So, as things change, the importance of integrating digital learning into the education system is becoming highly important. According to research conducted by Via Afrika in 2011, out of South Africa’s 413,067 teachers, only 132,884 had been trained in basic computer skills and ICT equipment. This research considered challenges and opportunities within the education landscape and whether the country is ready to digitise learning.
Innovating our education system and directing some of our energies towards moving learning to a more digital space, is therefore important as this will ensure that we keep abreast of developments in the rest of the world. We will have a better understanding of where the world is going, allowing us to immerse ourselves in this changing universe. Some say the digitisation of education is hampered by lack of skill and infrastructure in the country, hence going digital in the learning sector will remain a dream rather than becoming a reality. “We have, however, seen some positive development as more and more teachers are continuously getting the training they need to be able to help implement digital learning in schools across the country, which in my view means we are moving in the right direction,” continues Sangweni.
However, for us to properly assess if eLearning is something that can be implemented within the education space, we must look at the challenges that could impede implementation. We also need to assess how this kind of development will benefit not only the learners and teachers, but also our country.
Implementation requires the right assessment of the challenges we face. Some research suggests that factors hindering the deployment of eLearning are:
- Lack of awareness of eLearning currently being built and developed
- Adoption rate of eLearning is moving at a rather slow pace
- There are bandwidth and connectivity issues being experienced
- Computer literacy still seems to be an issue
- Content on these platforms still lacking
- Teachers tend to experience a certain level of difficulty engaging learners actively via digital learning platforms
Many key stakeholders are working toward addressing these challenges in SA. But it is important to highlight that this digital integration will have an overall positive impact on the educational ecosystem. Digital learning will help increase learning efficiency of the learners with elements such as adaptive hinting, which will help students to figure problems out quickly and in real-time. A digital learning environment also offers students an opportunity to learn fully with the help of simulations, rapid assessment and annotation technology, just to name a few.
Integrating technology into the learning space allows learners to master their learning, as they will be able to pace their learning according to their own preference, review material and be assessed per section. Digital learning also allows for flexible learning when and where learners prefer to do so. A good example of an online learning tool is the recent development of Microsoft’s educational version of Minecraft, which can be played in class.
Digitising education will also be beneficial to the teachers, because they will be able to leverage their time better, spread their knowledge widely and engage with a wider audience.
Overall, eLearning will not only improve the quality of learning, but will also allow for the development of a generation with the capability to learn and acquire skills on a global scale.
To fully answer the question as to why we need to digitise education, it’s safe to say that this will enable our learners to become globally competitive.