The 5 Digital Trends Transforming Higher Education in Africa


Pandemic life has resulted in a rapid shift to digitisation, most notably in the education sector.

This has meant that teachers, students and parents had to acclimatise to remote e-learning via digital platforms.

As a result, traditional face to face teaching methods have made way for novel approaches in the education sphere.

Institutions such as Red & Yellow Creative School of Business, based in Cape Town, South Africa, have been ushering in transformative learning strategies for years, making the move to user-friendly online education seamless for both students and lecturers.

“Our approach has always been to equip our staff and students with the digital tools and skills for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Carmen Schaefer, Head of Academics at Red & Yellow.

“Part of our ongoing strategy is to innovate and expand our course offerings to ensure students are prepared to navigate the current and future climate of the professional world, no matter which career path they choose.”

These shifts in learning will not only benefit students but educators and the institute itself. Here, Schaefer highlights 5 trends implemented by Red & Yellow, as well as other schools in Africa and across the world:

  1. Accessible Learning Systems

It’s become increasingly vital for online learner management systems to be accessible and user-friendly.

Students expect a seamless experience while navigating their learning platform and the inclusion of downloadable resources for offline study goes a long way in addressing financial and connectivity concerns.

  1. Digital Classrooms

Humans are inherently social beings and many students may find it difficult to adjust to online classroom settings, which is why platforms such as WhatsApp, Zoom and Google have been embraced by those in the higher education sector.

Using these platforms, classrooms have been redefined and exams have been reimagined.

But how prepared are educators for the transition? According to Schaefer, Red & Yellow digitised the previously cumbersome physical Skills Education Training Authority (SETA) accreditation process pre-COVID-19, which has afforded the institute more time to adopt the newly digitised processes requested by accreditation partners.

  1. Virtual and Oral Exams

Virtual open-book examinations mean students now learn with understanding instead of merely memorising lessons. The result is students who are more collaborative and engaged.

Additionally, the age-old format of oral examinations has been repurposed and remixed to build learning communities, improve students’ communication skills and assist in conquering anxiety that often accompanies speaking in front of groups. Exams can now also be invigilated using systems such as Zoom and Exam.net.

  1. Blended Learning Approaches

The move to digital doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning in-person training completely. In fact, statistics from the United Kingdom reports that 59% of students are more motivated when using blended learning models that comprise online lessons, workshops, webinars, individual project reviews, and practical sessions and in-person lectures, where possible.

This approach further encourages students to conduct independent research while using their course materials as constant points of reference.

  1. Gamification

By 2024, game-based learning is expected to grow by 41% in Africa according to market research firm Metaari.

The use of game-design elements in non-game contexts is known as gamification, and Metaari predicts that virtual reality-based games will be at the forefront of learning, followed by games in evaluation and assessment and language-learning. Providing a fairly relaxed learning environment and offering rewards throughout the gamification process influences students’ intrinsic motivation.

In the current digital-first era, there is a premium on human interactions. This means that despite the school moving its curriculum online, Red & Yellow is committed to ensuring the human experience is still accessible, albeit virtually.

“Our approach to learning and teaching is holistic with educators and support staff, such as our dedicated mental health and well-being counsellors, bringing their whole selves to their practice and not just concentrating on academics,” concludes Schaefer.

Edited by Luis Monzon
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