‘Edutech crucial to grow digital economy’

LIKE many others, the nation’s education sector was severely disrupted at the dawn of the Covid-19 pandemic. Schools and lecture halls all over Malaysia were shuttered, as social distancing requirements and fear of infection meant it was no longer viable to enter physical learning venues.

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Thankfully, the struggling academic landscape managed to find a lifeline in the form of educational technology, or edutech. Advances in communications software and the rise of web conferencing programs meant students could keep studying through the pandemic, albeit through a virtual platform. In some ways, this was an upgrade: a Brandon Hall analysis on workplace e-learning discovered individuals spent 40% to 60% less time studying through online learning than they would have in a traditional academic setting.

As Covid-19 progresses into the endemic stage, classrooms and lecture halls have reopened. Yet is there truly a need to return to traditional learning formats, given how the world had adapted to mainstream online learning over the past two years? And with the abundance of learning tools and technologies at our fingertips today, might it be time for a complete revamp of our education system, to facilitate a greater usage of edutech today?

Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) chief innovation and enterprise officer Prof Dr Vinesh Thiruchelvam believes widespread edutech adoption is crucial for national advancement.

“Edutech adoption is part of the digital transformation for Malaysia. It directly impacts the country’s digital evolution of the economy and society at large.

“Edutech allows for learning to be more interactive, motivating and experiential. Wide-level implementation is essential as it sets a plethora of opportunities to take the nation’s youths into a growing digital economy,” said Prof Vinesh.

“Workforces of the future will be in a technology-based ecosystem, hence the education environment for starters should embrace the same so that there is a smooth transition from schools to tertiary and subsequently to working professional conditions. The implementation must be for all across the nation to balance learning among all youths.”

But is Malaysia doing enough to encourage the development and advancement of edutech today? What challenges stand in the way of making us an edutech hub in the region? — By TERENCE TOH

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