Due to the COVID-19 situation, schools needed to move towards remote teaching rapidly. In addition, digitalization is putting pressure on the schools’ curriculums and they are unable to support the digital leaps in the society. The digital transformation in schools requires constant and close support, and to be beneficial, local school processes and practices have to be understood and taken into account.To achieve sustainable solutions, the local edTech solutions and ecosystem supporting them have to be available. There is a need for locally supported easy-to-take-in and easy-to-use edTech solutions that support both teachers and students, but also school management and parents.
In the earlier blog text (Meanwhile-in-Namibia) the ahaa-ecosystem was presented ,which is a sustainable way to build the above-described edTech ecosystem to support the digital transformation of education.
Based on the proposed ahaa-ecosystem, Glowdom, Haaga-Helia UAS, and Eduix have started pilots in several Namibian schools. The pilots are based on two software products that are modified to suit the local needs of the schools.
The first product, Formjack is an easy-to-take-in and easy-to-use remote teaching platform and lesson planning tool. It is also used to make different kinds of queries to teachers, students, and parents. The second product, Collecte is an effective content management tool that can be used by teachers in schools and other institutions such as museums, universities, and research institutions to collect and share content. Example: teachers and lecturers can use it in lessons and lecturers respectfully.
Both products have been largely tested and used in Finnish schools and society. They are found to be a reliable baseline for Glowdom. Both softwares are products of a Finnish company Eduix ltd, who has a long history as a software developer in the Finnish education sector (80% of Finnish HEI uses Eduix’s products). Glowdom has the right to tailor and modify Eduix products to suit local needs.
During the pilot projects, Glowdom collects the local knowledge from different parties and takes the knowledge into account when tailoring and modifying the Eduix products to suit local needs. This gives Glowdom four remarkable competitive advantages:
1)Our products fit local needs better than the products of abroad competitors.
2)Glowdom is able to train, maintain, and further develop the products locally.
3)Since all software tailoring is done locally, Glowdown can offer cost-effective solutions.
4)The products are tested and largely used in several organizations in Finland (which is known for having a good education), unlike the competitors.
The concept has been used for a couple of months, but it has already raised a lot of interest in people. It was started with small pilots in one school and at the moment there are 38 schools and 980 teachers involved. Due to the high interest, it was decided that it is important to build up different kinds of channels to spread the information: there has been four webinars (available on youtube), several training sessions with schools, and Glowdom has published a digital learning community that has 90 members. This is the moment where the concept should be scaled up to a bigger market.
When up-scaling is done sustainably, it is good to define what sustainable means in this case. In the edTech context, sustainability consists of technological, pedagogical, societal (incl. ecological), and economical aspects. To upscale the innovation requires that all these aspects are taken into account. So, here up-scaling requires three main things: technological investment (software tailoring, hardware capacity, and maintenance), support investment (training, service desk, pedagogical support), and relationship investment (connections with different education management decision-makers, connections with different edTech stakeholders, societal relations, participation in relevant forums and marketing). All these investments need resources, and to be efficient, it is important to have investors and financiers/sponsors to support the up-scaling.