Technology is playing a large role in educational policy and strategy for Government Education Departments, NGOs, schools and students across the developing world. The momentum towards completely connected classes is unstoppable. However, the focus has been, disproportionately weighted towards hardware-only roll outs and in many places, advanced technology infrastructure has been deployed in schools ready for use. Consequently, the learning results coming out of many of these connected or digital learning environments has been limited and, in some cases, have had a negative impact on teaching and learning.
Hence the role of public-private partnerships becomes even more important in addressing this learning gap as Governments take on greater responsibility in connecting schools. Credit must be given to many Departments for their forward-thinking policies in creating these digital environments. But infrastructure has always been an easier undertaking for Governments – whether it was the building of schools, to classroom infrastructure or the provision of text books. The question now has become: “How do we activate the technology in a sustainable and scalable way so that it improves learning rather than ticking the box for buzz phrases like ‘21st Century Classrooms’ and “the 4th Industrial Revolution?” Understanding the progress that has been made in hardware should inform how training and content providers in the private and NGO sector engage with digital education, but the reality is this isn’t the case.
IDEA Digital Education has created a solution for pre-school through to post-secondary students and teachers that is digital, self-paced, low in bandwith, data-driven and interactive educational courseware.
Every IDEA topic or course gives access to students and teachers from marginalised communities and schools, providing nationally aligned, localised digital curricula across STEM subjects and focuses on students where English is not their first language. In these rural and low-income environments, the provision of sophisticated hardware is scarce andaccess to quality education is limited. IDEA’s entire mission has been established to support public-sector, low-income and emerging market government schools and students to be able to become globally competitive and locally relevant to industry.
IDEA’s educational philosophy is underpinned by research in explicit instruction and cognitive load theory while its technological innovation makes the courseware light, scalable and responsive to personalised learning goals. Aggregating open educational resources is not good enough. The IDEA suite of interactive digital education products approach content from an explicit instruction and culturally localised perspective. Our rich curriculum and graphic design mindfully treads the line of reducing cognitive load and removing split source information pathways by balancing the self-paced interactive and animated activities with conventional text content. This offers students and educators a flexible and easily navigable self-paced and responsive education journey. The online and offline capabilities, as well as the content broken up into detailed learning outcomes, have been created for a low connectivity and low-cost infrastructure context.
In its combined uniqueness, IDEA goes one step further: we implement. Our scalable implementation strategy either follows government hardware provision, even in rural and remote regions; telecommunications infrastructure or individual device acquirement. We ensure users come back to learn. We implement in all three segments of the market including direct to consumers, schools and institutions, and Government departments. This includes working with local partners and global influencers for example, IDEA has been made a global Authorised Education Partner by Microsoft who it works with in the training and implementation of the solution along side Office 365 in low-performing and low-income peri-urban environments. IDEA currently works with national and provincial governments in South Africa and East Africa in how to sustainably scale the access of nationally aligned content and assessments to students throughout primary and secondary school.