Microsoft South Africa and Vodacom have launched an online learning platform, which they believe is a first for the industry.
Vodacom Business CEO William Mzimba explains that the platform will be made available to all public and private schools, TVET colleges and universities.
“This provides connectivity and applications in a single platform that will enable digital learning via virtual classrooms,” he says.
Virtual classrooms are enabled through Office 365, allowing students and teachers to collaborate via video conferencing, live streaming and other tools. Students are also able to submit assignments via the platform, and teachers can return marked assignments.
All students and institutions will have access to the platform, which is accessible via PC, mobile phone and tablet devices.
Mzimba and Lillian Barnard, MD of Microsoft SA, stress that the announcement addresses the short-term needs created by the Covid-19 pandemic, but also aims to transform education in the long-term.
Mzimba says education needs to be a combination of online and on-campus learning. “We are demonstrating that, as a country, we can usher in those two modes.”
Barnard says the traditional learning model has to change, with children given access to more personalised learning. She points out that technology skills are becoming more important for job seekers across the board. “In South Africa, there is a need for deeper technology and digital skills; 64% of companies surveyed say they see an increase in digital skills in the next few years. But they say they struggle to find the right digital skills to advance their business objectives.”
Barnard adds that Microsoft will give Vodacom education partners the resources they need to train teachers in acquiring necessary skills.