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EDTECH- A POSSIBLE SOLUTION TO ACADEMIC CONTINUITY DURING COVID-19

Uganda, like all the other countries hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, has had to face the challenge of schools closing their doors until the virus can be contained. These nationwide closures are impacting over 91% of the world’s student population, leaving the majority of them wondering how much longer will going back to school be subject to uncertainty. Several other countries have implemented localized closures impacting millions of additional learners, according to UNESCO’s  COVID -19 Education and disruption response. 

 For many countries before Uganda reported its first case, in order to  “flatten the curve” by trying to reduce the spread, number of new cases, and to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed to the point of inefficiency,  many governments have decided to put institutions that offer physical education on hold.  This has left many learners wondering;

  1. How long until we can get back to “business as usual”?  
  2. What resources are available for our students in Uganda to learn in the absence of schools, teachers, discussion groups, and libraries? 
  3. If this were to occur again, do we have measures in place to ensure academic continuity?

In this period of uncertainty, answers to these questions can be found within the uptake of Edtech, thus allowing for learning to happen from anywhere, including isolation at home with access to a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone (Yes even your “Ka-torch” phone).

What is Edtech? 

Edtech is an acronymic combination of ‘Education’ and ‘technology’ – merging. These are two vast sectors; thus the definitions and applications being almost infinite. That being said, simply put, it can be defined as “the study and ethical practice, of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.”  

It mainly comprises: 

  1. Learning management systems
  2. Digital tools and media
  3. Information and communications tech 
  4. School infrastructure.

Edtech uses learning theories, to attempt to describe how human beings learn through; 

  1. Behaviorism: Learning is a response to external stimuli. 
  2. Cognitivism: Learning is a process of acquiring, storing, and retrieving information like a computer. 
  3. Constructivism: Learning is a process of building an understanding based on past experiences and present inputs.

Then technology is applied to see how best to simplify the delivery of those three learning theories using the four means of technology above.

In Uganda, a fairly active Edtech space is emerging with innovators coming up with various gadgets, content, games, and learning materials over the past decade. These include TOD-idea & KAINO which focus on child friendly ready to use education tablets with lessons and learning games already installed on them, Yaaka DN- which offers a full curriculum-based learning experience, Oysters, and Pearls focusing on educating the blind using tech as well as STEM cafe which uses robotics (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) to young learners to help them innovate and come up with solution-based learning exercises, to name but a few Ugandan startups in the space. 

The Role of Edtech Lab at The Innovation Village

The EdTech Lab is a platform to create, foster, and facilitate solutions across the education sector.

The Lab sits at the nucleus of the ecosystem using collaborative efforts with key players and sector partners to help homegrown startups and developers in Edtech with technical support, market penetration strategy, funding, financial literacy, and business development skills training and so forth. 

Over the coming weeks, the team will keep you posted on the trends and some of the available solutions to ensure continuous learning during this COVID-19 crisis. As a bonus for reading this article, we are posting our review of The Khan Academy and how you can apply it as a practical solution. Use the link below to check it out.

We would like to hear about some of the learning platforms you, your students or children are using, please let us know in the Comments section. 

Be sure to share this article with anyone who might need this information. 

As always, stay learning and most of all stay safe.

Written by;

William Tendo| |Edtech Lab lead |The Innovation Village.