SPONSORED | Five ways mobile technology is transforming online learning

We need to prepare young people to thrive in a digital future. Image: Provided


The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for online learning, with UNESCO reports that one and a half billion students worldwide were engaged in remote learning due to school closures in March 2020. While some learners have returned to schools and college campuses, it is unlikely that education systems will return to “normal” soon, if ever, as blended or blended learning using technology can complement and extend current learning offerings.

Unfortunately, not everyone in South Africa has access to a laptop or PC to use as a distance learning device, but 78% of young people under the age of 25 use a mobile phone. This ubiquity, along with efforts to increase cellular connectivity, is allowing mobile technology to come to the fore by providing wider access to the online educational resources needed for blended learning.

At Vodacom, we’ve seen how much learners, teachers and parents need convenient access to digital educational content and tools. Our e-School platform, a tax-free online education portal for Grade 12 learners, reached over one million registered users during the pandemic last year. Of these users, 63% access e-School via a smartphone.

Mobile technology is not limited to meeting the challenges of the pandemic. As an enabling, stimulating and engaging educational tool, it has a key transformative role to play in online learning.

Takalani Netshitenzhe

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Director of External Affairs of Vodacom South Africa

Learn anywhere, anytime

As learning in school has been disrupted by COVID-19, online technology has ensured the continuity of education by making it easier to access information wherever a learner or educator is. Portability and the proliferation of cell phones increase the possibility of learning anywhere, anytime. This means that with the help of digital apps, learners, parents and educators can easily and conveniently access educational resources.

Online learning, however, depends on reliable broadband coverage. That’s why Vodacom has zero-rated the e-School platform and provided data to university students during the pandemic to ensure data costs are not a barrier to further education.

Improve learning

Mobile technology provides access to a large number of educational resources, which can be consolidated and aligned with current curricula to support educators and learners inside and outside the classroom. This can broaden and deepen knowledge of course content and provide affordable access to teaching materials to improve learner performance.

With mobile e-learning platforms, it’s possible to learn smarter – by being able to study at a chosen pace, go back and review concepts, and accelerate through subjects without them. boundaries of a classroom or school timetable. On a mobile phone, parents can also be actively involved in the learning process – they can download materials, track their children’s development, and easily connect with educators during remote learning. Additionally, with mobile connectivity, educators can communicate real-time advice and feedback to motivate and support learners in their progress.

Increase engagement

As we live in a world of devices and apps, mobile technology is a familiar way to interact with others and with our surroundings. For learners, this makes mobile learning more relevant and interesting, which can increase engagement and, therefore, increase knowledge retention.

Digital content also allows for interactivity and creativity in how material is presented and assessed, to keep learning exciting and fun. For example, e-School offers quizzes at the end of lessons to ensure learners have understood each topic, as well as rewards for tracking learning.

Empower learners

Education via mobile technology gives learners greater control of their school experience as they can connect to their own subjects at their own pace on their own device. This gives students greater autonomy in how they access knowledge, learn, and complete tasks, as well as in applying ideas discussed in class to their work.

Develop future-ready skills

As a country, we need to prepare our young people to thrive in a digital future. Mobile educational platforms offer learners the opportunity to immerse themselves in technology so that they have the knowledge, skills and confidence to find a career in a work environment dominated by digital advancements.

Mobile e-learning also instills adaptability, creativity and collaboration in learners – attributes essential to a future workforce that supports economic growth and local entrepreneurship.

As we continue to bridge the digital divide, online educational resources should be part of everyday educational support, in and out of the classroom. Providing access to greater connectivity, mobile technology is paving the way for online learning, enabling students, teachers and parents to learn and teach smarter.

To register for Vodacom e-School, users should visit www.vodacom.co.za/e-school

Netshitenzhe is Director of External Affairs for Vodacom South Africa


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