The past two years have hardly been easy for the educational sector in South Africa. Universities across the country first saw #FeesMustFall protests taking place in 2015 in response to the threat of a fee increase. Nearly two years later, the movement is still running strong with little to no light at the end of the tunnel. As the Fees Must Fall campaign became more organised with designated leaders and even social media channels, the movement quickly transitioned from relatively peaceful to downright disruptive and violent. While protests for free higher education continue, institutions and students are feeling the ripple effect. This leads one to ask the question, how does this affect tertiary education in South Africa and is educational technology the answer?
Current educational challenges
With protesters determined on disrupting lectures at certain institutions, students who wish to continue studying now face a series of complications. As lectures at various universities were cancelled, many started growing concerned about studying plans for 2017. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has also expressed concern about the low number of matriculants applying for financial aid for next year.
In addition to worries about future study plans, those who do choose to remain at university also face the challenge of access to campus, libraries, lecture halls as well as study material being obstructed. In an attempt to combat this, during the UCT shutdown several students took to social media, using the hashtag #IllStudyWithYou to find other students who are able to share knowledge, resources and safe study spaces.
Where to from here?
The main focus of protesters seems to be that of free tertiary education. For others, however, it is simply receiving education. But how will institutions provide education when their actual grounds are implicated? One possibility is to provide an online learning solution and there are some good solutions, however the majority of e-learning platforms used by tertiary establishments aren’t equipped to support and enable tutors effectively. Further to this functionality required for the “in-house” development of lessons by tutors and the sharing there of is limited. These platforms were designed with fairly basic functions in mind and aren’t necessarily sophisticated enough to meet the complex demands of the current situation.
According to the 2015 South African Reconciliation Barometer, only 45.2% of South Africans believe they have access to the education they need. As access poses the greatest threat to education, a singular solution is becoming increasingly visible: bridging the gap between institution and student with educational technology (EdTech). EdTech can empower the idea of enabling tutors to reach students, through an open courseware marketplace type model. The model being based on tutors uploading educational material as a package for those who intend to use it. A marketplace of courses created by tutors using their own PC or device, that students can enroll in online, the same way they would purchase a product or service via an e-commerce platform. This empowers educators to generate learning content and share it with their students. This can be done by intuitively uploading a variety of media and creating a course, independent of a tutors level of technological proficiency (files such as PowerPoint, PDF’s and video etc can be used). Whether this information is shared at a cost or for free, this latest shift in educational technology views knowledge as a commodity worth paying for. To an online community (marketplace) of students wanting to consume the vital knowledge.
A eureka moment for those who make use of educational technology
Social media initiatives like that of #IllStudyWithYou have the right idea in mind, yet they exclude educators as many of them aren’t present on these platforms. This is why technology and online communities need to be embraced and leveraged to our advantage. To include educators, students and everyone involved in the learning process and provide them with a streamlined approach to sharing knowledge. Fortunately, advancements in the application of educational technology allows education that is instant, easy to use and always accessible.
We are able to leverage technology to our advantage and connect lecturers and students remotely. Based in South Africa, YREEKA provides online learning solutions that are tailored to the unique needs of a situation and can get lessons to students instantly and in an intuitive manner. By embracing educational technology through YREEKA, institutions will not only be empowering their students and personnel, they will also be embracing educational technology in the easiest way possible. However, this isn’t limited solely to educational practices, embracing new thinking about learning tech may prove beneficial to the corporate sector as well. In any industry or sector where learning and development is required on demand, in real time or remotely, YREEKA provides a solution that will innovate training practices.
For more information on how we can provide you with an effective learning solution, contact us today.