Turning the tide: Three trends shaping the future of education

By Shirley Tay

GovInsider takes a look at how schools across the world have adapted learning for Covid-19.

The global education sector is on the cusp of a digital revolution. With Covid-19 shuttering schools, teachers were forced to dive headfirst into tech to find new ways for students to continue learning.

For some countries, that has required the use of TV and donkeys to reach every last student. Others have turned to tech to create immersive learning experiences and prepare students for a digital future.

GovInsider examines three ways schools across the world have adapted teaching for Covid-19.

Grooming future-ready students

Universiti Putra Malaysia, a research university in Selangor, is testing the use of AI to predict planting and harvesting schedules, says Prof. Dr. Rusli Bin Hj Abdullah, its Dean of the Faculty of Computer Science & Information Technology.

“We want our students to be equipped with AI,” he says. The university is in the process of reviewing its curriculum to ensure its students are equipped with knowledge on latest technologies like 5G and IoT.

Thailand, on the other hand, is focusing on developing the digital curriculum for primary schools, high schools and universities across the country. It plans to roll out AI programmes in select universities this year, reported the Bangkok Post.

Dr Jakkanit Kananurak, Vice President of Digital Manpower Development and Promotion Department at the Digital Economy Promotion Agency, told GovInsider that it plans to train more advanced schools to teach digital skills to other schools.

Online learning platforms like Coding Thailand will help to curb manpower challenges, he said. “These schools or teachers could be our ambassadors to diffuse the learning of digital and coding to new schools.”

Donkeys and TV to reach everyone

As schools shuttered, countries had to come up with creative ways of teaching - especially when the internet wasn’t easily available to everyone.

Kyrgyzstan’s tool of choice? Donkeys. The animals have been used to deliver internet boxes to students in remote areas, Rest of World reported.

The boxes function like a digital library, and contain 500 books, 250 videos, and 4 million Wikipedia articles. When connected to a power source, the boxes become a local Wi-Fi hotspot. Students can then use the connection to install an app to download the content in the box.

In the Philippines, Zoom lessons were out of the question due to the weak internet coverage. Many households also don’t own computers.

The Department of Education turned to TV and radio to broadcast lessons. 88 per cent of Filipinos have a TV at home - making this medium rather effective.

The agency also created e-textbooks for remote learning, Abram Abanil, its Director for Information and Communication Technology Service, told GovInsider.

Students can download these e-textbooks from a cloud server. For those with no devices or internet connection at all, schools will download these resources and send the hard copies to their houses.

Digital, immersive learning

Universiti Putra Malaysia has also opened virtual laboratories that allow students to conduct online experiments. Results from these online experiments can help students identify any discrepancies in physical ones, increasing the accuracy of research.

It is also using a lab in Malaysia’s tech hub, Cyberjaya, to test use cases in VR learning and AR avatars for smart cities.

Ottawa’s Library of Parliament Parliament has also been redeveloped into a 360-degree video experience for virtual field trips, CBC News reported. This has helped it reach more students than ever before, said the library's chief of virtual experience.

This crisis offers an opportunity for us to rebuild inclusive and resilient education systems. One thing’s for sure - tech will be a cornerstone in the future of education.