What digital strategies can Asian educational institutions adopt to prepare current and future learners for tomorrow’s ESG, socio-political and economic challenges?

According to the World Economic Forum, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced 1.2bn children out of school classrooms and it is dramatically changing education.

Education conducted through digital platforms (e-learning), is the order of the day now, guided by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals for Education, which recommend that learners acquire the knowledge and skills aligned to sustainable development by 2030.

Other research on education technology (edtech) are pointing to the use of collaboration tools; immersive media; game and simulations; and tools that support learners as makers and creators—to improve motivation and learning throughout Asia.

With many studies reporting that e-learning takes less time and enhances information retention, educators are facing complex technologies and approaches to deliver the world-class learning environments.

A World Economic Forum study has warned that the percentage of core skills will change by 40% by 2025 and that 50% of all employees will need reskilling. Another WEF report has predicted that 65% of children today will in future find themselves in new job types that do not yet exist.

Pioneering fit-for-future learning environments

What are some key steps in building world-class learning environments that are fit for tomorrow’s challenges?

Remote learning is driving irreversible trends in our global environment. The following list of trends, compiled by the e-student organization, point to what a future-ready learning environment should be capable of driving:

  • Mobile learning
  • Micro-learning
  • Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)
  • Increased accessibility for all online students
  • User-generated content
  • Gamification and game-based learning
  • Personalized learning
  • Virtual conferences
  • Collaborative e-learning
  • Social learning

Such an environment would require networks that are smarter, more agile, and more responsive and more adaptable, meaning they run on programmable infrastructure, incorporate analytics and intelligence, and offer software control and pervasive automation features.

For example, university campuses can operate off an IT data center platform with a fixed wireline network to the internet while different buildings have fibre connections and wireless access points that can be moved to 5G to save costs instead of build new infrastructure. In South Korea, universities are being targeted to build private networks for wireless infrastructure elements.

With edtech providing powerful tools to educators to establish deeper interactivity and additional learning channels through digital adoption, learners can attend classes anywhere, anytime and benefit from a quality education throughout their lives.

The way forward

In Asia, Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia already have more than 80% internet penetration, and 5G has pushed the fundamental challenge of connectivity atop other countries’ digital agendas.

A robust and flexible network infrastructure allows Asia to be always-on and globally connected. Another enabler lies in high-capacity networks and metro facilities that make possible the deployment of AR/VR and other capabilities for remote training. Through the use of headsets, people can physically learn how to build solutions and perform various tasks.

This marriage of technology with the needs of people helps shape the ideal model for e-learning systems to enhance motivation, boost user engagement, and raise productivity.

According to the non-profit organization Global Partnership for Education, education is both a human right and a change agent for countries intent on building sustainable growth and enduring societal transformation.

Educational organizations in Asia that adopt the right digital strategies will be instrumental in propelling their students and countries seamlessly and robustly into the digital arena.