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Digital skills are now a must in the workplace, so what does this mean for the education industry?

01 Aug 2022
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Amit Chakrabarti

Head of Vodafone Business Ventures

Today, educators around the world have an increasingly difficult job. They are preparing students for a digital workplace and for jobs that don’t even exist yet.

To do that successfully, education institutions need to offer the relevant tools and infrastructure in classrooms which prepares students for an economy that is becoming rapidly digital and tech enabled.

Like all other industries, the education sector saw a big digital push at the start of the pandemic as school closures led to an increase in remote learning. However, as students return to school, college and universities around the world, most of the institutes are realising that they are not equipped with the right infrastructure to support the demand for new, hybrid ways of learning.

Research by the European Commission reports that less than 20% of European students attend schools with access to high-speed internet1 and a recent government report found that most schools in the UK currently spend as little as 3% of total budgets on EdTech2

If we’re going to equip children for a digital future, it’s clear our education systems need to adapt and modernise fast.

Giving schools the tools they need

At Vodafone Business Ventures, our aim is to address some of the most pressing social challenges of our time using our expertise in connectivity, the cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Education is one such area where we believe we can make a difference, transforming the learning experience with technology and making it accessible for all. While investment in this area has been increasing, more needs to be done to bridge the gap for economically underprivileged students.

Using our award-winning Connected Education solution, we’re bringing digital learning to students, educators and parents everywhere to ensure that every child is equipped for a digital future and can benefit from technology.

The solution is made up of a suite of digital tools and services that combine devices and connectivity for a seamless learning experience.

On realising most schools and higher education institutions are not yet equipped to deal with more devices, data and the IT management requirements of the modern campus, we now offer Campus Wi-Fi as part of the solution.

Connection on campus

Teaming up with Cisco, we’re using our connectivity, boosted by Cisco Meraki Wi-Fi access points, to keep signal strong as students and teachers move between buildings.

With broader coverage and quicker connections, Campus Wi-Fi is extremely reliable, automatically switching to our award-winning mobile network if the institute’s internet goes down and offering unlimited downloads.

Our Wi-Fi is also robust. With a powerful router and firewall offering advanced security features, you can help protect users from new and emerging cyber threats, no specialist training or expertise required.

Frequent, automatic upgrades mean educators and learners can enjoy new features and security updates never fall behind.

Cisco makes managing the network simple too. An easy-to-use online dashboard means organisations can prioritise important apps, limit excessive bandwidth usage and control who is using the network – restricting access based on user types both on and off campus.

A system for the digital age

In Ireland, we are working with Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), to help streamline their technology to support better communication and collaboration between students and staff.

Spread across 5 campuses, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology is one of the most geographically dispersed institutions in Ireland, which meant it’s legacy in fixed, siloed systems were outdated and causing roadblocks for its students and staff who are increasingly mobile-first.

Now, instead of having four separate phone systems, GMIT has one cloud-hosted system and we also installed Microsoft Teams to help staff work remotely and efficiently with students – something that ended up being vital during the pandemic.

We caught up with Donal McGinty, IT Manager at GMIT, to find out more:

Vodafone Business - Business Reimagined | GMIT

Looking ahead, our connectivity will be able to support greater learning tools such as augmented and virtual reality, and even a wide range of IoT sensors that can monitor things like inventory, energy usage and surveillance for enhanced security on site.

Closing the digital divide

Connecting 1.7m students across almost 5,000 institutions in 14 countries, we’ve already been recognised as the Best Overall IT Solution Provider for the Education Market by the global EdTech Breakthrough Awards.

In addition, our own research across Europe found that 90% of key decision-makers in the education sector said that Connected Education was either very appropriate or extremely appropriate for solving the challenges of their educational institution.

As we look ahead, our ambition is to connect 5 million students by 2025, giving them equal opportunities and the right skills for an increasingly digital-dependent workplace.

What’s clear is that technology will continue to assist us and make our lives easier, providing new ways of solving old problems, but it is important that everyone is brought along on that journey and has access to the skills and tools needed to adapt.

That is why we’re focused on creating services that empower everyone, giving access to technology that can change lives for the better and create a more inclusive society.

Find out more about our purpose and the role of Vodafone Business Ventures.

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