Technology key to improving education – EY

10th May 2018 By: Anine Kilian - Contributing Editor Online

Technology is rapidly contributing to improvements in the quality of education on the African continent, says EY Africa People Advisory Services Leader Chad Schaefer.

Speaking at EY’s Strategy Growth Forum Africa conference, in Johannesburg, on Thursday, he noted that digital learning could be used where there is a lack of teachers in certain rural areas.

“Subjects can be broadcast into the classroom, supported by teachers who are able to coordinate digital learning. This means that the requirement for teaching can shift from being a subject matter expert to a learner facilitator,” he explained.

He added that this was an opportunity for developing countries to use technology to change teacher recruitment models.

Schaefer further pointed out that appropriate technology hardware was also becoming more affordable.

“There are innovative ways one can start to put iPads and monitors into classrooms. Smart phones are also tools that can support the educational environment, especially in Africa,” he said, adding that there were 650-million people that had access to smart phones on the continent, more than the US and Europe combined.

Schaefer pointed out that the cost of moving technologies into rural areas was fairly low and that, in terms of connectivity, the cost of data transfer was fairly inexpensive.

He meanwhile noted that technology enabled various forms of communication.

“Traditionally, a teacher would communicate with between 30 to 50 children in a classroom, which is something that can also be done using a digital platform.

We can record a lesson once and play it multiple times. One can also update that lesson and start to replicate it to get a return on that investment,” he said.

Schaefer highlighted that this type of learning presented an opportunity to reach more people and share a wider range of educational topics, allowing students to increase their skills.

“It’s simpler, better, faster and the quality is also consistent.”

He further noted that technology could help students learn faster and in real time, stating that digital learning could also give students access to education on a global scale, helping South African students to be on par with the rest of the world.

“The ability to design schools of the future, based on learner facilitators, as well as traditional teachers, is something that needs to be considered. Schools need to be configured to enable digital and transfer information” he said.

Schaefer added that, from a global perspective, successful just-in-time learning helped to identify the individual strengths of students from early on and helped them to build on those skills at a young age.

Just-in-time learning is a strategy designed to promote the use of class time for more active learning. It relies on a feedback loop between Web-based learning materials and the classroom.