By Carolina Costa
According to the United Nations, a massive 94% of the world´s student population has been affected by COVID-19, with low to middle-income countries hardest hit. Many, including educators, are using technology to adapt to our new reality. One solution is EdTech which is changing education in Latin America.
EdTech is short for education and technology, where hardware or software and educational theory are combined to facilitate learning. The growing application of EdTech presents both benefits and challenges as we apply it to help children learn.
5 benefits of EdTech you did not know
Technology has the power to transform education at a low cost. It can help bring literacy to kids in disadvantaged situations where access to educational resources, internet, and electricity is scarce.
Some of the benefits of using technology in education include:
- Increased student engagement
- Improved digital literacy in the disadvantaged population
- Low-cost solution breaking educational and digital gaps
- Sustainable option
- Increased student interaction
The Challenges of EdTech
According to The World Bank Group (the largest education sponsor in developing countries), remote learning requires a re-imagination of education, but it’s fraught with challenges too.
Lack of training: Both parents and teachers play a fundamental role in engaging children to learn. It is not enough to just upload educational content to a platform. Parents and teachers must be trained so they know how to use online learning resources and follow strategies to apply technology in the education process.
Hard to tailor education: Every child learns at a different pace. This needs to be kept in mind when creating digital content. It can be tricky to cater to unique needs and apply the same software to different student levels. EdTech should, therefore. always be considered as a learning tool but it will never replace the guidance of a good teacher.
Internet access issues: The World Economic Forum has found 43% of Latin Americans still don’t have Internet access! Providing free, reliable, and fast Internet connection in low-resourced schools is a big problem if we want to narrow the digital gap.
How Latin Americans are adopting EdTech
Despite the challenges, EdTech is reaching and educating more children in Latin America.
COLOMBIA: At Aprende Leyendo, they recently launched Dingo app, – a digital learning tool pre-loaded with eBooks and literacy activities to develop children’s Spanish and English literacy skills. They’ve already seen children’s reading and engagement levels improve. With the support of the World Literacy Foundation, we plan to expand this project to indigenous children in La Guajira in northern Colombia.
ARGENTINA: Educ.ar is a platform for teachers and parents using digital learning. The website has a range of resources including daily lessons and teaching tools to boost digital education engagement.
PERU: The WAWA Laptop Project is using low-cost laptops that can be charged using solar-powered panels. This initiative, supported by different universities and local companies, aims to improve the quality of education in Peru and Latin America.
COVID-19 has highlighted the need for EdTech solutions to close the digital gap and help ensure all children have access to education during school shutdowns despite some challenges. We are excited to see what other digital tools emerge from this crisis to support education in Latin America and beyond.
Learn more about Edtech from experts on our Digital Library