Vodacom, Microsoft debut digital education platform for SA learners

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Lilian Barnard, managing director Microsoft SA.
Lilian Barnard, managing director Microsoft SA.

Vodacom Business and Microsoft SA today launched a digital education platform, which they say is in response to the growing need for affordable online learning solutions.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown, a huge space for digital learning has been created, and the companies say they have invested extensively in education to deliver solutions that address the immediate and long-term needs of education in the country.

Online teaching and learning has surged in SA since the COVID-19 lockdown was announced in March.

Parents and pupils have become accustomed to the online learning space and more companies are offering a variety of e-resources to suit curriculum needs.

Private firms have also seized the opportunities in cyber space education and have been offering multiple options.

Vodacom and Microsoft say the Connected Digital Education platform enables remote learning with affordable connectivity, also giving learners access to educational tools, apps and resources.

Access to cost-effective data and educational apps and resources will be provided through the Vodacom Business Edu Data Bundle and Microsoft Office 365 Education, a cloud-based service which offers the key Microsoft productivity apps like Teams, OneNote, Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

Through the platform, educators are able to continue to deliver classes to their learners, who can participate through chat or voice using a SIM card where access to Teams is provided free of charge, allowing them to continue learning regardless of location or device they are using – be it an Android, iOS or Windows smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Vodacom and Microsoft say they are committed to supporting the digitisation of education in SA and believe that through investing in education, they are investing in the long-term economic growth and prosperity of the country.

“This empowers both educators and learners, and enables learning to continue in a seamless manner, which is a priority for Microsoft as we aim to ensure South African learners are equipped with the right tools and skills needed to make them future-ready. The ability to bring together learning into one hub or solution is invaluable, and forms an important part of our commitment to building a complete education solution with critical partnerships with organisations like Vodacom Business,” says Lillian Barnard, managing director of Microsoft SA.

Shameel Joosub, CEO of Vodacom Group, comments: “As a company with a purpose to connect for a better future, we are leveraging our ongoing partnership with Microsoft to provide educational institutions, from schools through to universities, with an education bundle of data at an affordable rate to participating institutions.

“We are fundamentally accelerating digital transformation in education through online learning now and well into the future.”

Barnard and Joosub say the platform is a much-needed solution that addresses the short-term need for online learning, while educational institutions are partially closed, by giving educators and learners access to the tools and resources they need.

In the long-term, they also believe it addresses the need to transform education, and provides learners with the tools needed to “equip them with technological fluency, high-level knowledge skills and an agile mindset that embraces innovation and creativity – the skills that are needed for future employability”.

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