According to the World Economic Forum, the COVID-19 outbreak has changed how students and pupils around the world are taught. In the past few weeks, governments around the world have suspended attendance of universities as well as schools.
In Feb, 2020 in Hong Kong students started learning from home using interactive applications. Live TV broadcasts were employed in China to deliver education to at least 120 million Chinese students. In Nigeria, Google Classroom came into the aid of students combined with video instruction. Slowly the world is embracing the “learning everywhere and anywhere.”
Policy makers in education are coming up with innovative techniques to ensure students continue accessing education in the face of COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
However, World Bank has observed that most of these innovations are coming from high-income environments such as urban or peri-urban areas. The use of ICT in education in poor communities may be a good idea.
According to Forbes Magazine, those companies which are able to adopt innovative technologies in providing their goods and services will be able to keep a competitive edge in business. Now companies have been forced to come up with strategies for their employees to work from home. There were very few people working from home before the pandemic. For instance, Twitter and a few other technology organizations encouraged their employees to work from home.
However, many organizations or companies lack the necessary infrastructure for their staff to work from home. COVID-19 outbreak has fast-tracked the process of digital transformation for many companies worldwide.
Working from home has its benefits as well as challenges. We expect that some organizations will soon realize the benefits of working from home and stick to that even post COVID-19. They will be more experienced in terms of what is needed to successfully pull it out.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 virus, a lot of progress has been made in the area of tele-medicine. This is the use of mobile phones (smartphones) to contact healthcare providers for consultation by patients. This will help in avoiding walking into overcrowded health facilities during the outbreak of a pandemic.
In fact, the use of tele-medicine has helped in enhancing social distancing in some parts of the world. This is a great way to slow the transmission. If I was a policy maker in a developing country, I would provide the required infrastructure to enable the increased adoption of tele-medicine to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
A number of countries and companies are actively engaged in remote learning through adopting innovative technologies. I’ve already completed course work of an online Masters in Public Policy and Administration from Kenyatta University in Kenya. Therefore, I understand what this means. I also know that it is possible to engage in serious learning through use of innovative technologies. The Digital School at Kenyatta University provides a tablet which students can connect with their professors via the internet through discussion forums and quizzes and access to learning resources.
World Bank Group (WBG) provides assistance to online education through provision of facilities and equipment, supporting development of policy and teacher training among others.
Many workshops and conference were cancelled globally due to the Covid-19 outbreak. A tech conference called Collison was one of those which were cancelled. They went a step further and created a virtual Collison from Home after the in-person one was of course postponed until June, 2021. Elsewhere, SAS Global Forum has also gone virtual as a result of COVID-19 outbreak.
Technology companies are making their contributions towards enabling the world to work from home with trial versions or some have lowered the fees for specific tools which make remote working possible.
For example, Microsoft is offering a free 6-months trial of Microsoft Teams to support schools, businesses and schools particularly in China to remain operational during the Covid-19 outbreak. Secondly, Google is now allowing free access for hangouts meetings on all G Suite Education clients for several months to come. Zoom is reported to have lifted their 40-minutes limit in their basic plan for China following Covid-19 outbreak. Health workers from over 1,000 hospitals used the tool to consult with patients. Finally, Cisco Webex is supporting businesses in 44 countries where they exist by offering 24/7 technical assistance for those using this communication tool.