“Stay home, stay safe” has become one of the most common phrases in the year 2020. Though this has become a sort of a slogan to help curb the spread of COVID 19, as well as prevent people from contracting the virus, it has also led to a disruption in education. Education has been moved online to ensure that it still continues, or paused indefinitely to curb the spread. Children in rural and underprivileged communities in Nigeria are, however, being left behind as they are not equipped to adapt or transition to new methods of learning.
One big barrier to sustaining education via remote instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic has been students’ unequal access to advanced technology tools. Not every student has access to laptops, tablets and internet connections, and even students who do may now find themselves competing for these tools with siblings and/or parents studying or working from home.
Those who are most able to benefit from the introduction of ICTs and remote learning are children with educated and available parents or guardians, and good teachers, who live comfortably and have access to the necessary devices, amenities and resources. They are indeed the ones who benefit the most.
Nevertheless, it is a popular approach by most investments in educational technology to justify the claim that the introduction of ICT and remote learning will benefit the poor and less privileged. Although, it doesn’t mean that this will happen. In fact, we have seen the opposite happen time after time. Too much planning and execution related to large scale investments in ICT use in education dwell too long on what is possible while ignoring much of what is predictable- which is in the long run, what is practical to do doesn’t benefit the poor and less privileged as they are already at a disadvantage.
It doesn’t have to be that way, but you may need to take some proactive steps (and monitor the impact of what you’re doing regularly) to mitigate these potential effects.
When making plans for education continuation in a crisis, pandemic or COVID 19 – consider and innovate according to these tech innovations: High tech, Low tech and No tech
Hightech: Laptops, Tablets
Lowtech: Radio, Television
No tech: Worksheets, books and self-explanatory texts.
Also note that when considering the technology method to adopt, the best technology is the one you already have, know how to use, and can afford. You want to innovate, but it is best to innovate using what you already have. You do not need the latest device, app or gadget. What you have can be worked on.
It’s the content, not the container. All too often, educational technology initiatives focus largely on the technology itself. The future of education is on the content, not the device. Focus on the content and those who will be making use of the content- Teachers, Students, Parents and Guardians.
If you are pointed in the wrong direction, technology may help you get there more quickly. In many cases, ‘technology’ can be seen as the ‘solution’, but it is not exactly clear what problem the technology is meant to help solve, and how exactly it will do this. According to ICT in Education Toolkit, “Technology is only a tool: No technology can fix a bad educational philosophy or compensate for bad practice. In fact, if we are going in the wrong direction, technology will get us there faster. Providing schools with hardware and software does not automatically reform teaching and improve learning. Much depends on educational practices and how ICTs are used to enhance them.”1
As we navigate these new changes and adapt to the new normal, with every innovation, ensure that no child is left behind. The next few months or years will bring about new revelations and trials, and as administrators, you must execute sustainable and adaptable innovations that will bring about effective results in the long run.