GARRR ACKERMAN: Digital transformation – The greatest barrier to education

More than 70 percent of disadvantaged students lost learning due to limited or no access to digital devices, this is according to a report by Oxford University Press (OUP) titled Education: the journey towards a digital revolution, which reflects on how schools can embrace digital technology to shape education in the future.

Education is one of the sectors that has been most dramatically affected by global lockdowns. Millions of students, parents and teachers across the world had to suddenly adapt to new ways of learning and accessing educational resources.

According to the report, more than 50 percent of teachers and learners do not have the skills needed to make digital learning a success. More concerning is that 60 percent of teachers identified engaging students in online lessons as the main challenge to learning, greater than education funding or digital infrastructure.

Schools are reluctant to make the conversion and digital migration is slow largely because some traditional teachers are set in their ways and don’t want to change. However, the impact and disruption of school closures forced many of these traditional teachers to adapt to modern trends.

Limited digital skills is the greatest barrier to education at the moment. School leaders need to introduce training for teachers to build their digital competencies. It not only about ensuring that they have access to the necessary devices and connectivity, it’s more about filling the skills gap to make sure teachers, parents and learners know how to use digital tools effectively.

Remote learning

Creating an online classroom is an important step in moving to a remote learning environment. Microsoft Teams for Education provides an online classroom so students and teachers can find new ways to continue to focus on learning — free for schools and universities.

Schools need to create learning environments that empower students to be independent and creative learners, build reading, language and STEM skills, and prepare them for their futures. Inclusive, student-centred classrooms increase overall learner success and improve learning outcomes.

Microsoft seeks to empower all young people, especially those most at-risk of being left behind, by providing access to computer science education and digital skills needed to participate in a world transformed by technology.

Digital transformation tools

Learning can happen from anywhere with the right set of tools. Whether it’s a school leader looking to bring together learning resources or an educator looking to bring out the best in their students, Microsoft Teams puts your classroom tools into one powerful platform.

The Microsoft O365 and the Teams digital learning environment were at the epicentre of this shift for millions of students. Microsoft Teams is a digital hub that brings conversations, content, assignments, and apps together in one place, letting teachers create vibrant learning environments.

Teams helps schools build collaborative classrooms, connect in professional learning communities, and connect with colleagues – all from a single experience, and free to educators and students.

To enhance interactive learning, Microsoft Whiteboard, integrated within Microsoft Teams, is offering brand new features designed to increase lesson engagement. What better way for students to express ideas than on a digital canvas where they can collaborate with peers.

Moving to the cloud

Moving to the cloud is easy and beneficial for school budgets, it not only replaces costly hardware with digital alternatives, but it reduces spend on unnecessary traditional school assets. Instead, digital assets and resources can now be stored in the cloud, making it far cheaper and more accessible.

Cloud software requires no capital expenditure, students only need a computer and high-speed, reliable internet. It enables everyone to store or access learning materials from any device, anywhere and at any time.

Garry Ackerman is the CEO of South Africa’s software and infrastructure service provider Argantic

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