A Life Less Analog, Technology

Zoho offers tech to help schools embrace e-learning

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Technology has transformed the workplace, with the process accelerating in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. So why not classrooms? This is why Zoho is offering its digital tools and expertise to help schools truly embrace e-learning.

“One methodology for education is providing online videos. Second is about making sure that the tools they use are familiar and intuitive. One of the problems with different solutions is the options in the tools may not be so intuitive. So it’s important to have the right intuitive tools and provide options. Some schools, some teachers, some students may not have a laptop, so make sure these tools are available on both the phone as well as on the laptop… One important thing to keep in mind is that unless we take that first step, students and teachers may not be able to solve the problem. My experience shows that within a few days, within a week, most of the children will pick it up and get onboarded online,” said Zoho Corporation VP and GM for Asia Pacific Gibu Mathew in response to my question at the virtual media session.

Old-school meets new tech

Tech has transformed the workplace, so why not classrooms? This is why Zoho is offering its digital tools to help schools embrace e-learning. Image credit: Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash
Image credit: Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Mathew hit the nail on the head when he said schools must take that first step. As I said to him, the problem is that the sudden need to switch to remote learning caught most schools flat-footed.

To be fair, most businesses were also not ready for the shift to remote work. Which shows that all these years, many businesses were just paying lip service. That’s why it took COVID-19 instead of their C-level executives to lead digital transformation.

In the same manner, we’ve been hearing about e-learning for such a long time. Yet most of our schools are still, well, old-school. It’s not just a problem of technology, but also of mindset.

As Mathew said, children quickly master technology and are more than happy to use digital tools. It’s the teachers, actually, who need training in technology and their changing role. Mathew pointed out that their role has changed “from simply imparting information to becoming a facilitator and interpreter of knowledge”.

Education in the digital age is multimedia, mobile-first, and multifaceted. For example, my daughter learned a lot of skills from a very young age by watching YouTube tutorials. This is how most of her generation learns — by watching online videos and trying out things for themselves. And most of the time, they aren’t even using laptops, but mobile phones and tablets. Because learning is integrated with their other activities. Unlike, say, older office workers, who have a clear demarcation that the laptop is for work while mobile devices are for entertainment.

Brave new world

Moreover, learning is more collaborative and multifaceted for their digital generation. They expect to work together on projects and to be able to communicate freely with their classmates and teachers. The teacher is not broadcasting information, but participating with students in creating knowledge. In fact, students might have a lot to teach their teachers.

Having helped SMES and other companies transition to a work-from-home setup, Zoho now hopes to do the same for schools so that they can embrace remote learning.

In particular, Zoho is offering Zoho Workplace as a robust and secure platform with intuitive tools that schools can use to create virtual classrooms and allow teachers and students to collaborate. Zoho Workplace now has more than 15 million users worldwide. It’s a unified platform that includes email, chat, audio and video conferencing, shared file storage, and an online office suite. It’s even powered by Zoho’s AI (artificial intelligence) assistant, Zia. I bet Zia is a lot better than Han Jip Yeong’s Yeong Sil, heh.

Make no mistake about it: remote learning is here to stay. Even if it will be part of a hybrid system or blended learning. One that mixes online learning with traditional face-to-face teaching.

The COVID-19 crisis caught so many schools flat-footed. Let’s make sure they will be better prepared for the brave new world that our children and our children’s children are creating and inheriting.