A new educational frontier for Africa
EdTech is the use of digital education technology to facilitate teaching and learning. It’s a rapidly expanding sector with enormous potential. Providers around the world are now incorporating education technology into their delivery strategies. The development of mobile technology such as tablets and smartphones offers great opportunities for anywhere, anytime learning. E-learning, m-learning (mobile learning) and online courses have particular potential in areas where access to more traditional forms of education is restricted or non-existent.
A growth area for Africa
With the possibilities it offers for distance and independent learning, EdTech has specific relevance for the continent of Africa, where it’s becoming one of the biggest and most important developing educational markets. A pressing need for high level skills is leading to a rising demand for higher education in a part of the world where traditional education models are not always appropriate. Using education technology in teaching and learning is a way of thinking differently and increasing opportunity.
A flexible approach to learning
One of the major strengths of EdTech is that it can be tailored to meet the different needs of learners. It can be used to augment and enrich teaching and learning in a classroom setting. Such an example are online courses as support for the medical exam preparations (MCAT, All India Pre Medical test, etc).
Perhaps its most powerful application, however, is in opening up new areas outside the classroom by facilitating distance and independent learning via online courses. Students can have the convenience of on demand resources combined with the support of a tutor. Digital connectivity can provide the collegiality of a learning group, but students can also learn alone at a time that suits them. Education technology also enables the exploration of fresh approaches to enhance learning, such as learning through games (gamification).
Edtech Key terms
EdTech is a dynamic, ever-evolving area that is not always talked about in the clearest possible language. Discussion can be poorly informed and confusing with words and phrases used imprecisely and interchangeably. In addition to discussing some of the benefits of education technology, this article aims to offer some clarity by highlighting and explaining some key terms and abbreviations.
This is a commonly used abbreviation for ‘electronic learning’ and means the use of computer technology to deliver programs of study either in whole or in part. This might be by standalone packages or, increasingly frequently, though online courses where resources and tuition are accessed via the internet. E-learning is a way of expanding opportunities for learning beyond traditional settings using digital technology such as PCs, laptops, notebooks, tablets, and smartphones.
As digital technology becomes increasingly portable, mobile learning, often referred to as m-learning or mlearning, is emerging as a key element of e-learning strategies. M-learning means that a student is not tied to a particular place and can learn wherever they are. In an African context, m-learning is a means of reaching potential students, for example by their mobile phone, in areas that would otherwise be inaccessible. This might be by a distance learning course hosted by a university or other institution or through independent study.