Uganda reopened all learning institutions on Monday this week, bringing an end to the World’s longest school closure. With 15 million students stuck at home without learning opportunities for the last two years in a bid to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, some parents and teachers adopted the use of EdTech to ensure children continue to study even in the lockdown. This has created the emergence of EdTech platforms. But what happens now that physical learning has resumed? In an interview about the future of EdTech Innovations about, we talk to Charles Thembo Lwanga, Chief Executive Officer of The Lesson, a cloud-based academic portal incorporating the Ugandan curriculum subjects for primary and secondary school in video format.
- Has EdTech had a significant impact on learning during the two-year lockdown?
Yes, those that had a chance to use digital learning have acquired more knowledge compared to those that didn’t. The problem was that many students did not have the ability to access these learning platforms because of known reasons like the inability to obtain laptops, the slow speeds of the internet in rural areas, and electricity shortage.
- Schools are reopening, what will happen to EdTech innovations with the return of physical classes? Those EdTech Innovations that had a long-term plan will still exist. For example, The Lesson was started in Oct 2019 with a purpose of providing revision content and lessons to students who may not have understood well in a physical class. During our own school days, we used to pay some people so that they could continue teaching us during holidays, a move the government tried to abolish. The Lesson records videos for all Primary and Secondary school curricula that is taught in a real classroom so that if a student did not understand in class, they can re-watch that concept and understand, especially students that miss classes because of fees defaulting, and those that hardly understand in class. We believe that this will also create a love for studying science subjects that most students hardly understand in class. The new curriculum of secondary education is student-centered, requiring that students teach themselves and make their own notes. It requires that students do research about the topics that their teacher has given them. When we have recorded all content of the Ugandan national curriculum, the students will also use this as a resource to self-teach. The problem is the teachers creating this content are no longer available as they used to be in lockdown.
- How can innovators encourage learning institutions to adapt to technological changes within the sector? They should not look at us as competitors but rather as those that are supplementing what they give the students in the classroom. They should encourage their students to visit these platforms for better understanding because they are the same teachers that are creating this content. EdTech Innovators should ensure that they have good quality content.