Cloud-based elearning solutions make it easier for schools, colleges, and universities to switch from classroom learning to elearning in a short amount of time. In addition to curtailing upfront and recurring infrastructural costs, the new-age learning management systems (LMSs) and virtual classroom software help educational institutions to integrate teacher-led learning and self-paced learning seamlessly.
Likewise, the ready-to-use cloud-based digital libraries make it easier for educational organizations to enable students to access diverse and multi-format digital content by overcoming constraints related to resources and skills. But no educational institution can implement and adopt elearning successfully if the students do not have reliable access to high-speed internet.
According to a joint study conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),
“Two-thirds of the world’s school-age children – or 1.3 billion children aged 3 to 17 years old – do not have internet connection in their homes.”
The gap in internet access varies across developed and developing countries, poor and rich households, and rural and urban areas.
That is why; limited internet connectivity is often cited as one of the key challenges in elearning implementation, along with the lack of access to computers and mobile devices. While adopting and implementing elearning, educational institutions cannot improve consistent access to high-speed internet. But they must consider some innovative ideas to make elearning accessible to students with limited connectivity.
8 Innovative Ideas to Make Elearning Accessible to Students with Limited Connectivity
1) Facilitate Continuous and Seamless Communication
An educational institution can implement elearning successfully only by providing relevant information and on-time assistance to students with limited connectivity. The teachers must call students regularly to identify key learning issues, including poor or limited internet connectivity. Also, they must allow students to ask questions or clear doubts by sending emails, text, messages, and instant messages. While implementing elearning, every educational institution must keep students engaged and motivated by enabling them to connect and communicate with teachers without any hassle or barrier.
2) Leverage Cutting-Edge Educational Technologies (Edtech)
Educational technologies (edtech) have been evolving consistently. Many cutting-edge edtech enables educational institutions to facilitate remote learning along with elearning. In many countries, educational institutions make elearning accessible to students with limited connectivity by leveraging edtech like radio, television, SMS, and instant messaging. They broadcast video lessons and audio lessons on television and radio based on preset schedules. Likewise, many educational institutions deliver content and learning materials in small bits through text messages and instant messages. Educational institutions must leverage the latest edtech to expand elearning accessibility.
3) Advise Students to Read Text
Most students these days prefer video content to text while adopting elearning. The elearning solutions allow students to understand a concept by reading text as well as watching videos. But a student cannot access video content seamlessly without high-speed internet connectivity. The educational institutions must advise and encourage students with limited connectivity to read text by accessing ebooks, documents, and presentations. Also, they must encourage teachers to share textual content with students regularly using SMS and instant message apps.
4) Don’t Abandon Physical Storage
The elearning solutions enable students to acquire knowledge by reading an ebook, listening to an audiobook, or watching video clips. But the students with no or limited connectivity will lack the options to access the multi-format digital content anytime and anywhere. But they can access the digital content seamlessly when the digital files are stored in physical storage mediums like CDs, DVDs, SD cards, and USB drives. The educational institutions must deliver the digital content on various portable storage mediums. Also, they must allow them to download the content directly from the LMS systems and digital libraries.
5) Reduce Size of Digital Files
While creating and uploading content for elearning courses, the content creators must focus extensively on reducing the size of digital files. They can easily reduce the digital file size by keeping the lessons and assignments short. They must divide the lesson into multiple learning units and create assignments with a fewer number of questions. At the same time, they must use the appropriate tool to compress the digital files before uploading. For instance, the content creator can use the appropriate tool to convert PPTs into PDFs and audio files into MP3.
6) Invest in the Right Elearning Solutions
Most educational institutions invest in cloud-based elearning solutions to curtail elearning implementation time and cost. The educational institutions these days have the option to choose from a wide range of cloud-based LMSs. But there are a few LMSs that are developed with features and options to address issues like no internet connection or limited internet connectivity.
In addition to supporting multiple network connections, such elearning solutions support offline reading and content download. They further divide the elearning content into smaller files to make it easier for students to access the content despite no high-speed internet connectivity. While comparing the elearning solutions, decision-makers must check the features to overcome no and limited internet connectivity.
7) Provide Access to Offline Digital Libraries
No educational institution can implement elearning successfully without enabling students with limited connectivity to access multi-format digital content. They need to ensure that students access a variety of digital content on their computers or mobile device without relying on the internet. Many edtech startups make it easier for educational organizations to enable students to access a variety of content by launching offline digital library services.
For instance, we at Mintbook, have been helping educational organizations overcome this barrier by launching an innovative offline digital library device – mBox. mBox enables students to acquire knowledge by accessing a wide variety of digital content – ebooks, videos, and quizzes. The digital relearning materials are mapped to specific board curriculums. Also, Mintbook keeps the learning materials up-to-date.
8) Collaborate and Build Partnership
In most developing countries, edtech startups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) launched projects and form partnerships to make elearning accessible and easy for students with no connectivity and limited connectivity. For instance, an Indian edtech startup from Odisha makes students learn remotely by leveraging radio, interactive voice response (IVR), and short message service (SMS).
According to EdTechReview.in,
“ThinkZone, an award-winning social enterprise providing high-quality, low-cost education to underserved children in low-income communities, is one among many. The Cuttack-based social impact startup recently announced that it has helped 5051 families in Odisha keep their kids engaged through voice calls, SMS, and radio since the COVID-19 lockdown in the state.”
At the same time, many edtech startups formed partnerships with state governments to educate students from rural areas by providing recorded video content, quizzes, and solved examples. The educational institutions must support such community projects. They should also form partnerships with edtech startups to make elearning accessible to thousands of students with no or limited connectivity.
No educational organization can make elearning sustainable without overcoming an important barrier like limited internet connectivity. The educational institutions cannot provide high-speed internet access to every student. But they must explore ways and look for ideas to make elearning accessible to students with limited connectivity.