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Technology remains key to supporting education

By Matthew Hall, Chief Products Officer Rectron South Africa

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Microsoft Teams in Education

Learners have experienced first-hand the progress that can be made with the right digital tools in place.

In classrooms and lecture halls, lessons have increasingly been complemented by digital tools and platforms. Technology can and must be used to provide opportunities for all and bring about a future that is better and brighter than today.

The rapid shift to digital teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a lot of opportunities for innovation and creativity.

This isn’t to downplay experiences of disruption and hardship, but the acceleration of technology and the rise of digital learning have brought positive changes within education.

Improved availability and quality of information

Technologies impact is perhaps best visible in the learning process. Not only is it easier to find any information online, but the information now comes in different formats.

In addition to e-books and websites, podcasts, photos, infographics, videos, and even video games can be very useful.

All these educational formats are available online, but also in traditional classrooms thanks to teachers who use technology to considerably improve their lectures.

We have seen a significant digital upskilling of both students and staff. With technology, educators are no longer limited to textbooks or traditional ways of face-to-face learning.

By using other resources such as video, audio and interactive learning, students have many different ways to learn.

Teachers can create digital teaching materials, videos, and slide decks, then provide access to students and caregivers to review on their own time.

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Since the start of lockdowns, Microsoft Teams itself has undergone several enhancements to enrich the student learning experience.

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In the same way, teams within organisations collaborate using the platform, key features were incorporated into the educational version to empower the same collaboration among students and teachers. For example, educators were able to organise their students into assignment groups so they can work together on the same work and experience the power of teamwork first-hand.

What digital tools are needed?

What we have learned was that the critical ingredient to successful hybrid and remote learning was having the right technology in place.

Laptops, PCs, mobile devices, webcams, headsets, and other software solutions are just some of the tools that have supported learners throughout this period.

Thoroughly considering why technology should be chosen and how it integrates with learning can help parents choose which technology is most valuable or crucial to teaching and learning.

When selecting hardware, one crucial decision is choosing between a hand-held or portable device, such as a tablet or a laptop computer. Likewise, schools that have used Google Workspace for Education or other educational platforms will benefit from devices and software that is compatible with them.

Building on our digital investment

Technology within the educational ecosystem can provide opportunities for children to improve their digital literacy.

Building towards a strong foundation of digital literacy will help students succeed in the classroom throughout their schooling and readies them for the digital economy regardless of the career journey they take.

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The introduction of technology in schools and at home to complement learning will be important to closing the gap between our current situation and where we need our future graduates to be.

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The world of technology was already changing, with the World Economic Forum estimating that 65% of children entering primary school today will end up working in completely new jobs that do not yet exist.

It is essential to continue our investment in people so that their confidence and digital literacy continue to grow.

This exposure to technology and growing digital literacy can lead to future careers in artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing and other professions that do not exist today.

With the current accelerated shift towards digitisation, it’s amazing to think about what the education of tomorrow will look like.

Technology may not replace traditional learning methods, but it does have its place in modern-day education and should be included as much as possible.

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