As if undergoing a massive transition to the current K to 12 program was not difficult enough, more and more Filipino students face many challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the entailing shift from classroom to distance learning.
Many of us have already heard several students voicing their concerns on social media and the news— from having no money to buy additional hardware tools, such as tablets or laptops for distance learning, to the anxieties some of them experience from adjusting to an unorthodox form of a class setting.
However, the government knew it could not just leave the current school year in abeyance while students are left without any recourse to continue their progressive learning. As many would say, our country's youth holds the key to a brighter future, and that can never be possible without any effort to preserve, if not upgrade, the quality of education we have at present. As a result, the Department of Education (DepEd), along with the rest of the world, embraced the feasibility of education technology and began facilitating online classes remotely, albeit with a few hurdles along the way.
Today, with education technology now considered an essential factor in advancing the students' learning process globally, how far behind are we behind the rest of the world in fully integrating the technology into our education system?
Being at the forefront of modern learning
With the help of emerging startups that focus on the education technology niche, huge strides to curb financial and technical challenges continue to be realized by the government. One such partnership that shows great promise for public school senior high school students enrolled in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) strand is introducing a new platform from startup Stock Knowledge that integrates gamification features with the latest software innovations.
Stock Knowledge's platform itself is pretty promising as it utilizes artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality, augmented reality (AR), and a breakthrough innovation webXR which is exclusively available to Filipino students alone at the moment via the platform. This type of education technology that Stock Knowledge offers on the table aims to engage students on online learning mode by combining elements of their STEM subjects with gamified learning tools (GLT) for an immersive learning method.
Recently, the startup was able to forge partnerships with DepEd Manila and Makati for the initial testing phase of their platform, relying on student feedback to generate improvements that will make it more affordable and compatible with various mobile specifications. That results in a higher efficiency rate in terms of teaching. The development and deployment of the Stock Knowledge open-source learning platform are in collaboration with the UNICEF Innovation Fund.
Why EdTech startups and the government should work hand in hand
While nationwide inoculation efforts are still underway and face-to-face learning remains out of sight, the government continues to fill in the gaps not only in the technological aspect of fostering new methods in teaching but also in how to arouse the interest of each enrolled student under the DepEd's K to 12 curriculum.
"With many of today's generation of students inclined to research online and engage on social media platforms, we believe that we can pique their interest in modern tools by combining traditional aspects of education with modern digital technologies," said Stock Knowledge Chief Executive Officer Anna Marie Benzon. "Many education technology startups have been developing these innovations for the academic sector way before the global pandemic upended our school system. This is because we all believe that digital is the way to go if we want to promote effective learning in our schools further," she added.
And at the rate that the global EdTech industry is stirring up more interest from investors everywhere, Benzon's claims are correct.
More support from the government is needed.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said in the country, or at least for the moment. The most important thing that the startup ecosystem in the country needs is more substantial support from the government in attracting potential investors to financially back their breakthrough innovations and help realize mutual goals faster with the COVID-19 haze still very much up in the air in the country, the sooner, the better.
"We are a relatively new startup niche that is still underinvested as compared to others such as Fintech or Enterprise Solutions," shared Benzon. "But our confidence in our innovative solutions also transcends to how more investors will see the benefits and possibilities of these solutions way into the future," she added. With many hurdles still hounding school systems worldwide, Benzon's vision for a more robust EdTech startup ecosystem is becoming clearer fast, and Stock Knowledge is ready with its plans rolled out to face the challenges.
Learn more about Stock Knowledge and their EdTech innovations at stockknowledge.org.