In the U.S. and many parts of the Western world, technology just makes already accessible education even more accessible. But in some parts of Africa, students don’t have access to even the most basic education. These incredible innovations are changing the landscape. Here are 12 ways technology is changing education in Africa.
The Metro Institute of Innovation and Technology (MINT) created the National Robotics Summer School where students can put their computational skills to use to program robots. MINT programs benefit students at the basic, secondary and tertiary levels of education in Ghana.
MINT is also working on a TV show, “ScrapBot” which will show children how to build robots from household items in Ghana.
Through his non-profit organization Worldreader, former Microsoft executive David Richer sent millions of Kindle readers to mostly English-speaking countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Ghana, Uganda and Kenya. E-textbooks not only offer visual effects, but they can adapt to a student’s learning style, and take note of how students interact with the text. Computers can also display adaptive learning by adapting the presentation of information to the way students respond to questions and tasks. Risher got the idea for his non-profit when he was on sabbatical in Ecuador, and found that a school library hadn’t been opened for quite some time because the key was lost.
In South Africa, students at Tlamatlama Primary School in Tembisa are learning in solar-powered classrooms. The classrooms were provided by Ambittech, an ICT solutions company that recently opened branches in Africa. The company’s goal is “shifting the African edge,” or changing the current generation’s future in Africa. The classrooms and the information and communications technology are hooked up to a generator designed to provide power where there is little to no electricity.
In Kawangware, a low-income area of Nairobi, Kenya, students are using an app called eLimu that delivers condensed content from prescribed textbooks. The app helps make content more engaging with add-ons such as animation, video clips, music and more. eLimu is a private company started by two Kenyan women. Two schools — Amaf Primary and Elim Academy — were chosen to be a part of the eLimu project to demonstrate how technology can help address the education divide in African schools.
The eLimu package includes tablets that come with controlled access to the Internet so for the most part, students can use them only for educational purposes.
Vodacom is partnering with the Eastern Cape Department of Education to build a new information and communications technology center in the Lady Frere District of South Africa that will make teacher training and education more accessible to locals. The center will develop and improve the ICT skills of Lady Frere schooling district officials, educators and the community at large through a series of workshops and training session, accommodate adult basic education and training learners, serve as a library and Internet cafe for the local community, serve as an ICT laboratory for use by teachers, learners and district officials and train teachers and subject advisers in integrating ICT into teaching and learning.
Microsoft is training teachers in Malawi how to open and manage their own computer labs, complete with e-learning resources. Microsoft is doing this in seven schools, training female teachers to use Microsoft products that help them facilitate online meetings, share files with students, create web pages, run PowerPoint presentations and more. Through its series of Digigirlz events, Microsoft is also teaching young girls how to use Microsoft products.
What good is education technology if there is no access to students who can benefit from it? That’s where Customer Relationship Management (CRM) comes in. This is a tool that lets educational institutions keep track of potential and current students, teachers, alumni and others associated with the school or who have contacted the school.
Micro-credentials are digital badges one can receive for learning certain skills. Some people believe they may eventually replace college degrees in terms of what potential employers look for in job candidates. Here’s an example of a micro-credential: you can get one for mastering a business model canvas. That’s a strategic management and lean startup template for developing new or documenting existing business models. It’s a visual chart with elements describing a company’s product value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances.
The badges are specific, and need to come from trusted sources. This is especially important in African countries where many students don’t have access — or resources — to attend major universities and receive formal degrees, but may have attained digital skills that make them attractive on the job market.
You might hear this word more and more as schools turn to the cloud. Interoperability is essentially the capability to get different services, systems and programs to work together. A simple example of interoperability is the phone: no matter the company, or whether it is a landline or a cellular, you can call any phone from any other phone. In African schools where administrators can’t always afford to buy computer products from major vendors such as from the brand that manufactured the computer, their computers can run programs from different, more affordable vendors.
When it comes to education, big data can refer to the collection of vast amounts of information based on what students and teachers are searching online or doing on computers. Through this combined data, computer software can recommend actions, further readings and more. This can help teachers in African schools who don’t always have access to formal training when it comes to creating lesson plans.