Digital Learning in Emergencies

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1 Digital Learning in Emergencies

Digital learning is a system of learning using technologies in an effective way, combining different elements like blended or virtual learning using for example mobile technologies or e-learning while digital learning in emergencies can refer to the use of digital learning tools to provide education to learners in emergency situations. Digital learning is an umbrella term for any education that is conducted with or through digital technologies and involves the digitalization of the entire learning experience including social learning, virtual meetings, online exams, Shohel, M. M. C. (2020). Digital learning involves making use of a broad range of technology-enhanced educational strategies like blended learning, flipped learning, personalized learning, and other strategies that rely on digital tools.

The origin of digital/distance education can be traced at the beginning of the 18th century in Europe where people started learning away from the school campus. It started with correspondence and the use of parcel post, advanced to radio following the discovery of radio by Guglielmo Marconi in 1894, then to television, and finally to online education by use of internet based digital devices (Hope Kentnor, 2015). During emergency situations when students are unable to attend school in person, digital learning has been used to continue teaching and learning. It can involve the use of technological resources, such as group and individual online conferencing, electronic platforms to store, access, and edit information and resources, and non-Internet based technologies, such as radio and television. (Bozkurt et al., 2020)

Digital learning in emergencies creates online and computer-based assessments and allows for rich collaboration and communication, which may include refugee learner’s collaboration with content experts and peers. Digital learning enables refugees to access education, enhances learning experiences, saves teachers time, enable teachers to better tailor learning to students needs, aid in tracking student progress and provides transparency into the whole learning process for all stakeholders

According to (UNIHCR 2020), proper implementation of digital learning broadens, strengthens, and deepens student learning through the use of technology as a cognitive tool for problem solving, conceptual development and critical thinking, which allows learners to interpret, organize, demonstrate and manage their knowledge. The adoption of digital enhanced modalities like e-learning also promises many refugees access to education which would have been difficult. Using digital education as a benchmark, UNHCR is targeting to achieve 15% enrolment of refugees in higher education by 2030 from the current 3%. However, digital education in emergencies faces enormous challenges. With the large reliance on technologies in digital learning modality, broadband infrastructure, hardware, and software should be considered. Some local and national broadband infrastructures are not necessarily available, with students in low-income countries less likely to have Internet access. (Blaskó & Schnepf, 2020).

There is high cost of digital devices yet refugees are always poor people who cannot afford digital devices. (UNICEF 2021). Save the children (2020), observes that, while using Eneza SMS study tool to access education by refugee students in Kenya, “Students enroll using basic handsets borrowed from family members or neighbors. In most cases these learners are forced to drop off the system connection to do so on time because the device owner had either lost the SIM card, had moved away or decided not to let the student use the phone any more”. The unreliable and high cost of electricity and connectivity, especially in rural Africa renders digital learning impractical. Connectivity is expensive and many refugees spend up to a third of their disposable income on mobile connectivity. However, solar is promising to bridge the electricity gap although the intake is still very low in many poor economies.

2 REFERENCES

Alexander, P. A. (2020). Methodological guidance paper: The art and science of quality systematic reviews. Review of Educational Research, 90(1), 6–23. https://doi.org/10.3102/003465431985435

Shohel, M. M. C. (2020): Education in emergencies: challenges of providing education for Rohingya children living in refugee camps in Bangladesh, Education Inquiry, DOI: 10.1080/20004508.2020.182312 To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/20004508.2020.1823121

Hope Kentnor, (2015). Distance Education and the Evolution of Online Learning in the United States. https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=when+did+digital+education+begin

Blaskó, Z., & Schnepf, S. V. (2020). Educational inequalities in Europe and physical school closures during Covid-19. https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/research/crosscutting-activities/fairness

Anderson, E., & Hira, A. (2020). Loss of brick-and-mortar schooling: How elementary educators respond. Information and Learning Science, 121(5), 411–418. https://doi.org/10.1108/ILS-04-2020-0085

Basilaia, G., & Kvavadze, D. (2020). Transition to online education in schools during a SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Georgia. Pedagogical Research, 5(4), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.29333/pr/7937

Bozkurt, A., & Sharma, R. C. (2020). Emergency remote teaching in a time of global crisis due to Coronavirus pandemic. Asian Journal of Distance Education, 15(1), 2020. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3778083

Belma Halkic and Patricia Arnold, (2019): Refugees and online education: student perspectives on need and support in the context of (online) higher education. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2019.1640739

UNESCO, (2018). A Lifeline to Learning. Leveraging Technology to Support Education for Refugees. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0026/002612/2612 10. Moonlite, (2019). “Exploiting MOOCs for Access and Progression into Higher Education Institutions and Employment Market.” Accessed March 23, 2019. https://moonliteproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Moonlite-O3-report-final.pdf.

World Bank Group. Rapid Response Guidance Note: Educational Television and COVID-19 (English). Washington, D.C. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/659411587145759242/Rapid-Response-Guidance-Note-Educational-Television-and-COVID-19

https://www.igi-global.com/dictionary/digital-learning/51862