This can be achieved once new learning technologies and data privacy and safety concerns are embraced holistically, says this writer.

When the pandemic struck last year, the education sector across South-east Asia (SEA) had to migrate massively online and implement some form of remote-learning. Suddenly, school was in session—at home.

Later, many schools gradually reopened with an expanded approach: hybrid learning, where students can typically choose to participate either in person or remotely—or a combination of both. This approach can be a relief to many students who miss learning in school but also enjoy the benefits of remote-learning.

What education institutions accomplished in response to the pandemic has swiftly evolved by leaps and bounds. Looking ahead, those institutions will need to address new challenges, including distractions, technological barriers, and poor digital experiences, in order to supercharge the future of education in SEA.

Building a digital campus

According to a 2020 survey by VMware, 36% of SEA respondents had said that educational institutions delivered a better digital experience than before the pandemic. Additionally, 40% were happy to continue interacting digitally with educational institutions.

The numbers suggest that over the past year, educators have made tremendous progress in delivering meaningful digital interactions, and there are more opportunities for them to deliver a holistic digital education experience that is simpler to access; faster to connect; more reliable and consistent; and less confusing and complicated to troubleshoot.

This starts with the institution’s digital infrastructure. Virtual data centers that run on software are less rigid (and less expensive) than hardware. To accommodate online learning, IT organizations with these modern data centers experience much more flexibility and agility.

Also, IT teams can harness the Cloud to distribute and manage new devices, apps, and virtual desktops from anywhere. They also more constant visibility into a software-based infrastructure and can use software automation to fix problems and adjust as needed. This way, digital infrastructure is always available and running at peak performance—especially important for running more advanced applications and interactive, virtual lab environments.

Keeping students safe digitally

In our Digital Frontiers 3.0 survey, SEA respondents revealed how assured they felt about their data security by different industries. Some 35% of respondents said that, compared to before the pandemic began, educational institutions gave them the assurance that their data and information was secure.

Amid a new hybrid learning environment, students rely on educators and institutions to:

  • Protect their data privacy
  • Safeguard them from online threats and harmful content
  • Comply with digital guidelines and regulations

This is the time to replace outdated security models and ineffective tools that can put students and institutions at risk. So, education IT leaders should implement more modern technologies with built-in security and modern security frameworks, such as unified endpoint management and zero-trust security.

Closing the digital learning gap

As SEA moves faster to a digital future, the education sector plays an important role bridging the digital divide. In some places, students still do not have equal access to devices, apps, and internet connectivity.

With a hybrid learning environment, educators should strive to provide every student with a high-quality digital education. It is not just about convenience or access, but about helping students develop in-demand digital skills for the future of work and lifelong learning. This extends to non-traditional students and the general public as well.

In fact, 52% of SEA respondents in our study had placed their trust in educational institutions to develop their digital literacy, which is the ability to access and consume a variety of online services.

Moving faster to digital education

It is an exciting time to be in the education IT industry—or to be a student, teacher, faculty member or parent. Education in SEA has never been closer to truly personalizing learning, breaking ground on entirely new learning models. Ultimately, digital experiences help prepare students for the careers of the future.

The modern technologies mentioned above provide the digital foundation for education IT leaders to:

  • Continuously innovate and break down barriers
  • Freely incorporate emerging technologies such as AI into the digital infrastructure. These innovations accelerate the path to more individualized, student-centered learning and assessment
  • Redirect resources and technologies to support teachers and faculty
  • Differentiate with groundbreaking learning and business models, such as more collaborative learning ecosystems

There is little doubt that the traditional, in-person-only educational model is changing. For educators and institutions in the region to move faster into the digital future and shape the future of education, we must be ready to accommodate change today and what is coming tomorrow.