South Africa’s higher education system is burning, technology could be the solution!
The South African higher education system in 2016 has experienced an assault of epic proportions, which has literally “split” the nation along several lines, if you will. The jury is still out on how the government will and should solve the problem, however the people at the losing end in all this are the students themselves. Universities find themselves stuck in the middle, in an ideological battle between students and the government. Universities in such a situation, cannot do much, until the warring parties reach an agreement. However, what if, universities possessed a powerful weapon that would guarantee learning to continue, for interested and committed students (who are clearly the majority), while conflict resolution mechanisms continue? I think technology can provide the answer!
Case Study : The Uber Story
The easiest way to understand the power of technology and appreciate how it (technology) can be used to rapidly “change the rules of the game”, its prudent to have a lot an example of how technology has brought about a rapid transport revolution in South Africa. The story of Uber in South Africa is well known for most of us, and despite the minor challenges its experiencing, resulting in bad publicity at the hands of a few ill-mannered drivers, it’s quite clear that the benefits of Uber and similar technologies, far outweigh the negatives.
The secret behind the massive success of Uber in our nation though, is that Uber, to the incumbent industry players, has become a powerful invisible force, that is quite quickly, magically putting the incumbents out of business. For them (the incumbents) Uber is like “the enemy that you can’t see with their own eyes”. The frustration that Uber brings to existing industry players is that, it’s continuing to take business away from them, yet these incumbents can’t quite put their finger on why they are losing out so much. It’s like the incumbents have not done anything wrong, but they remain on the losing end, at the hands of a competitor who has an “unfair advantage” over them. That’s the power of invisible, people driven technology!
Virtual Teaching & Learning
In the same way technology has firmly become the “invisible hand” that’s rapidly transforming the transport industry world wide, institutions of higher learning can possess the same advantage through “virtual learning” in-order for them to extend their reach beyond their physical brick and mortar perimeters, and most importantly, offer continued and guaranteed learning to committed students despite any external efforts to disrupt learning.
Virtual learning is a term often used interchangeably with online learning, and quite simply it is the kind of teaching and learning that is delivered online or via the internet. Now, while most universities and other institutions of higher learning are already experimenting with virtual learning solutions with a certain degree of success, such efforts must be quickly accelerated until we get to a point where a student can attend classroom based lessons or alternatively attend the lessons online via the internet and still obtain the same quality of education. Such online teaching and learning is called Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT)
A Proven Formula
At LGIT Smart Solutions, a leading Microsoft Partner training company, we have delivered VILT training to thousands of students located in Asia, East and West Africa, and now venturing into Europe, all via the internet with resounding success. The requirements to delivered such training is very simply, a good internet connection and synchronized scheduling that cuts across time zones. No travelling is required as each student can attend training from the comfort of their home. The trainer / teacher alike only needs a computer, good internet connection and a quiet room (could even be at home) that can allow them to deliver training online.
This solution is a very simple, yet powerful way to allow teaching and learning to contiune outside the traditional classroom. In education, disruptions to the teaching and learning process, substantiated or not, is not welcome and can result in dire consequences which can affect the economy at large. Therefore its time for educational institutions, and especially universities, to take charge and position themselves to become resilient by taking advantage of technology, to whether the storms that keep our universities at the mercy of violent protests.