We live in a digital age where our experiences, including the way we learn and work, increasingly take place in the virtual world.
Experts predict that in the future 9 out of 10 jobs will require digital skills as automation creates a demand for more technology professionals, such as computer engineers or information communication specialists.
This means we’re facing a digital skills gap and that is only going to grow if we don’t start incorporating digital-based information and data literacy, online communication and collaboration, digital content creation, internet safety, and IT problem solving into our education and development programmes.
Creating a digital classroom
New research from Vodafone Foundation found that 92% of teachers across Europe believe schools have a responsibility to promote digital literacy. However, only 62% think their school is well prepared to do so.
In addition, 72% think education policy measures are not sufficient to prepare students for future job markets.
This leaves many children in a vulnerable position, lacking some of the key skills needed to be able to enter the workforce and progress in their careers.
By bringing digital infrastructure and applications into the classroom, we can make sure students are able and confident to use a variety of devices, software and apps.
For example, our Connected Education solution puts tablets in the hands of pupils and educators, encouraging them to collaborate through software such as Microsoft Teams for Education, which provides a safe online classroom environment where students can easily connect with their teachers and classmates.
As well as creating a safe, engaging environment and improving digital literacy, Connected Education allows students to access to high-quality content that can be tailored to their local curriculum and even to their preferred method of learning – be that visual, auditory or written.
Elizabeth, a student from St Mary’s Secondary School for Girls in Dublin, tell us what this solution meant to her during the height of the pandemic:
Connected Education also enables teachers to plan and deliver lessons via digital technology, so they can better track the progress of their students and quickly spot if a pupil needs further assistance. But the benefits don’t stop there.
We need to empower teachers to start using digital tools that complement their existing lessons and create seamless experiences for students both learning at home and in person.
In addition to our solution, we also offer support services such as training for teachers to help them integrate these tools more easily, often a missing piece when introducing tech in the classroom. Depending on the needs of the educational institution, we can tailor the support and training, as each school we work with is at a different stage in its digital journey.
For example, in South Africa, we introduced devices, connectivity and collaboration software to six schools who previously had no access to digital learning. As a first step, we made sure to prioritise training the teachers to not only understand this new technology, but also to learn how to design and run effective hybrid lessons.
Vodafone Foundation’s latest research found that 20% of teachers have little or no experience using digital technology in the classroom and a third have had no formal training in it over the last two years.
And this is a challenge that stretches beyond the education sector, leading the European Commission to launch Pact for Skills, an initiative calling upon public authorities, private companies, social partners, education providers and employment agencies to work together and invest in training for all working age people across the European Union.
Last year, Vodafone Foundation announced a number of programmes as part of the SkillsUpload Europe initiative to help boost digital skills and education work being done across Europe.
The programmes, delivered in partnership with other charities and organisations, will enable people to develop their knowledge and skills in using digital technologies, with the goal to reach millions of primary and secondary learners, those who are not in education, employment or training, and the elderly.
Improving access to technology
We understand the key role Vodafone can play in upskilling society and the next generation. We are passionate about ensuring that no child is left behind.
Access to high-quality education is one of the most important factors in a person’s life which is why we’re committed to providing support via technology to teachers, schools and learners wherever they may be.
To date, Connected Education has benefited over 1.7 million students in 5,000 educational institutions across 14 countries. While other initiatives, such as Vodafone Foundation’s Instant Schools and Instant Network Schools, have reached many more, including refugee and war-torn communities.
Using the transformative power of technology, we can build more inclusive and resilient societies, helping every generation participate in the digital economy of the future.
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