11 November 2012

Kenya: Ericsson - How Technology Is Disrupting Learning

Last week, Ericsson released a study on the Networked Society and it's impact on education. Presenting the study, Mikael Eriksson says that there are two billion Internet users, who upload eight years of content on YouTube every day.The study is targeted at the education sector in Africa and was presented to Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa via video conference from Ericsson offices in Stockholm, Sweden.

The telecommunication vendor has been connecting schools in Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi through its Ericsson Connect to Learn program. The program is done as a model with the hope that government and other players in the education sector can learn from. The schools are provided with a cellular connection and are able to access learning material via the Internet on Ericsson's cloud.

Ericsson also shared a number of ways in which technology was disrupting learning.

Electronic book sales have surpassed physical book sales while 80 percent of the global population is connected at least to a mobile phone. On the mobile side, 3G ios now a different case compared to what it was 10 years ago, when it was launched. Then, it didn't support business or individual needs.

Young-Shim Dho, Korean Ambassador to the United Nations says that her country is the 14th largest economy in the world, without any natural resources, a fact attributed to an educated populace.

Societal evolution started with agricultural society where resources were isolated and decentralised. This then became the industrial society where resources were centralised and standardised. In the networked society, all resources are interconnected and therefore accessible to all.

Books, which were once only accessible through libraries are now available everywhere, including on mobile devices such as phones and tablets. Wikipedia has over 22 million entries in 85 languages. "As soon as you get connectivity, the situation changes," explains Eriksson, adding that connectivity provides equal opportunities for people to access the same resources.

When technology is introduced in learning, the role of the teacher changes to that of a guide, from that of a bearer of information. Technology also reduces the need for people to know and remember lots of stuff, as this is accessible at their fingertips. Instead, analytical skills become more important in the need to sift through lots of information.

The use of technology in learning is also said to have "individualised learning". While one has access to a variety of learning material online, including courses from Harvard and MIT, the United States only has two Algebra books for primary school (K1 to K8) students.

However, online learning material comes with its own pitfalls. Eriksson explains that a study a few years ago found that Wikipedia had more errors than Encyclopaedia Britannica. The errors were however corrected as soon as it was highlighted.

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