Interviews

“Schools Utilising Digital Platforms Effectively Have Realised That They Will Need to Pivot”

Jacobus De Leeuw, the Primary STEAM Leader at SISD, speaks about how the pandemic has affected the education sector in the region

How has the pandemic affected the education sector in the region?
At the start of the pandemic teachers and students had to adapt very quickly to online learning platforms. Teachers had to ensure that they continue delivering high-quality, student-focused lessons. Students had to learn a new method of learning, become more independent and self-reliant. Feedback became more valuable to students as that was the only way that they could make progress in their learning.

What sort of opportunities do you see in the regional education sector?
The “Internet of Things” is an area that will be showing drastic growth over the coming years. The rise of mobile technology and the applications of the IoT in education are numerous, and the implications of this is still yet to be seen. Everywhere we move we are surrounded by devices connected to the Internet. We need to start preparing students to be “Future-ready.”

Is there a digital disconnect despite tech tools being available for distance education?
Unfortunately, yes, the digital disconnect is a reality. Not all schools were ready for the expectations of the pandemic. Very soon, during the pandemic, schools realised they would have to incorporate other elements like digital wellbeing. Feeling safe and secure online has become more important.

Schools that utilise digital platforms effectively has realised that they will need to pivot. By using online creativity and collaboration tools, students can collaborate and create rather than just consume knowledge visually.

How can this digital disconnect be bridged?
In a blended approach, face-to-face instruction is used to introduce or reinforce concepts, focus on hands-on skills practice, and provide opportunities for collaborative work. Digital learning is used to provide additional content when paired with traditional instruction.

STEM has risen as the go-to stream of education during the pandemic. What importance does STEM have in developing the skillsets of a student?
STE(A)M educates students to develop 21st-century skills that will be required in future jobs. What is fundamental is that the different subjects are integrated. Topics should be integrated between disciplines. This requires greater communication among different disciplines and interdisciplinary thinking.

Projects should focus on developing skills that students will use in future productions and products. Students that remain focused on creating are at a bigger advantage than students that is focused on consuming content.

Do you use solutions today to make STEM learning a seamless experience?
We do not know of the impact that STE(A)M learning has on the future. What we do know is that we are trying to solve future problems with current technology, skills, and knowledge. What we can change is how we approach it. By utilising innovative technologies as learning tools, we can cultivate learners to be “future-ready.”

What about the security aspects of online learning. How can that be addressed?
By ensuring the implementation of digital citizenship is secure students will be aware of the risks and learn about their privacy and how to stay safe online.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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