Evolving technology has been at the heart of innovation for decades, leading to improved productivity across a wide range of industries. In the past few years, the education sector has been one of the top beneficiaries of this trend maintaining a steady focus on developing new technology-driven teaching methods.
According to a report by Metaari, investment in digital learning (often referred to as EdTech) grew to more than 22 billion USD globally between 2015 and 2017. This rapid growth is driven by demand across the education sector from elementary schools right through to colleges and universities as these institutions become increasingly digitally-focused.
With such rapid growth in the industry there’s little doubt that digital learning is here to stay. That’s why this week we’ll be looking at the innovation digital learning brings to the education sector as a whole and where the Middle East and the broader MENA region stands on this technology revolution.
The Evolution Of Digital Learning
Digital learning for today’s generation is aimed at achieving 2 primary objectives; refining the core aspects of teaching and to allowing schools at all levels to disseminate knowledge more efficiently.
In the past, the use of technology in education was a very controversial topic. Many people criticized it, saying that modernizing education would lead to a range of negative effects in society. With time however, educational institutions started to experiment with technology in the classroom and it quickly became apparent that when implemented correctly, these technologies had a great deal of potential to improve the educational system.
While the levels of improvement depend on a wide range of variables, particularly the way in which technology is integrated into traditional teaching methods and the way lessons are communicated, it has been demonstrated in countless schools around the world that technology is one of the best tools to provide a more flexible education framework.
Today, one of the biggest benefits to come out of the digital learning revolution is that students have access to a much wider range of learning resources and are less dependent on teachers for the dissemination of information. This simple innovation frees up the teachers to work specifically with the children who are struggling, improving outcomes and helping to ensure that students do not get left behind.
Digital Learning in The Middle East
Over the past decades, education has emerged as a core pillar in the road towards economic development and prosperity in the Middle East. As a result, many governments across the region have allocated budgets well above the global average to help grow their education systems.
With that said however, investment in education technology in the region still lags other countries. Globally, education technology firms raised over USD 9.52 billion in funding in 2017, with USD 397.6 million invested in India and over USD 1.77 billion in China. In contrast, only USD 1.26 million was invested into three EdTech start-ups in the Middle East.
With a growing student population and ever-increasing international interest, Middle Eastern governments will need to start identifying EdTech start-ups in their own countries that understand the unique educational landscapes in their countries. There’s little doubt that digital learning is the future of education and with the right investments, the Middle East has the potential to become a global leader in the industry.
4 Ways Digital Learning is Improving The Quality Of Education
1. Open Ended Learning in The Classroom
Imagine a science teacher working through a lesson with students. In the traditional classroom setting resources would be limited to textbooks, the teachers themselves, and if the students were lucky some basic multimedia. Today with tools such as SMART Boards and personal devices (laptops/ tablets), the students have virtually limitless resources and a wide range of ways to consume them. In this scenario students can explore the lesson in their own ways while the teacher works to highlight key topics and answer questions as they come up.
2. Physical Presence Isn’t a Requirement
Digital learning has also opened a new way of learning for students who are unable to physically attend a traditional classroom. Video conferencing technologies allow someone at home to be equally as interactive during a lesson as someone who is present in the class.
3. Information Access and Searchability
Before digital learning really took off, if you needed to find a piece of information it would take considerable time and effort to find what you are looking for. Now search engines give the ability to search documents for key phrases, both students and teachers have access to unprecedented information, allowing them to access the information they need the moment they need it.
4. Students Can Progress at Their Own Pace
Education is not a one-size-fits-all product and in every classroom, there are some students who grasp concepts slower than others. Digital learning allows these students to retain access to the resources they need long after the class has moved on to new topics meaning they can continue to practice and progress at their own pace.
Digital learning has become a very important part of the global education system and in many ways has transformed the way we view teaching in the modern world. While we’ve already seen how impactful these new education techniques can be, as more schools begin to condone the use of technology, we will see the overwhelming positives that digital learning can bring to tomorrows students.