While students in many countries are pivoting into online learning like veritable ducks taking to the water, South Africa faces some unique challenges. Our internet costs are some of the highest in the world, and many of our learners don’t have access to the ICT equipment that enable online learning.
Our historical disadvantage hits our youth hard, with many parents and carers lacking the techno-savvy skills wielded with ease in richer countries. In our environment, where income pressure is even higher in our COVID-19 landscape, we need to take greater care than most as we move learning online. Over the course of 2020 we have experienced an educational ‘stress test’ of note. Our educational establishments have needed to reach out to geographically distanced learners, and parents and caregivers have needed to take on a bigger role. Some have had greater capacity and resources to ride the wave than others.
We are a diverse nation, with different degrees of privilege. Too few of us have highly educated parents who deeply value an education as a key lifeline, providing role models and deep indoctrination in the importance of education, accompanied by the supervision, discipline, oversight, tips, and tricks that embed and champion learning skills.
It’s worth, first, acknowledging that the traditional parental role educating our young is not a ‘walk in the park’. Homework is not something that the majority of children do spontaneously or with joy. Parents with a mindset that drive for the completion of homework don’t necessarily find adoption easy or a pleasure.
This rigorous level of adult support is not available to many of our young learners, whose parents did not have the opportunity to complete school, let alone experience educated and motivated support for study and learning.
As educators and facilitators we are struggling to close the gap in opportunity. We do this the way teachers have always done it: by being a charismatic and motivational force in the classroom. Sharing values, inspiring ambition, and painting a picture of future reward. This is a visceral and real process, one that relies on personalised emotional intelligence. The right phrase connected with the right child. For many of us teaching is a calling, an art, a science, a soft skill.
The critical question becomes, how can we translate this energy into a format that works for a youth sitting in a crowded dwelling? How do you compete for engagement and motivation without the force of human nature sitting right there in the room?
These challenges are not just found in the learner base. Having relied on face to face learning for longer, many of our tertiary educational institutions focus on facilitation skills, lacking the resources and expertise needed to develop effective E-Learning content. We know our subjects, but we aren’t video movie makers or systems professionals.
Online learning is heavier on content development than face to face training. It demands a total experience that can hold the learner completely. Effective blends real human engagement, personalisation, gamification, interaction, effective visuals, and learning scenarios to bridge the gap.
These are not techniques that classroom training has needed to specialise in. Further to this, learning management systems need strong data management and technical administration, which can also be new territory.
At Empanda, we are passionate about navigating these challenges. We believe that by offering a managed service for hosting E-Learning coupled with E-Learning instructional design and content development, we can support our South African educational institutions in overcoming the challenges they face.
We want to help our customers so that they can focus on their core, inspiring engagement and deep expertise in both the learner and the content that is being shared.
We’d love to chat if you would like to see a demonstration of our Juno online training and learning platform as well as our E-Learning capabilities. We are a South African company with deep learning and development experience, translating existing programmes into an effective E-Learning format fast.
We take a collaborative approach and are passionate about sharing authoring tools and techniques, helping you to build the skills you need to get creative and to become self sufficient, or supported, whichever you choose.