EvolvEd intern Annie Wang sits down for a conversation with Alomaja Adebayo, Head of Research and Operations at Eazy-Digi EdTech Solutions, a recent partner of EvolvEd. In addition to guiding educators through the creation of digital content, Adebayo tutors high school and college-level math and physics on EvolvEd. Read about the founding of Eazy-Digi and the company’s core values as well as Adebayo’s thoughts on individualized education and the future of EdTech.
AW: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
AA: First of all, I’m an educator. I am also an e-learning consultant, Edtech enthusiast and blogger with a simplified approach to digital education. I am currently working as the CEO and Head of Research and Operations in a research and training-based organization on education technology in Nigeria. We have been working on equipping teachers through our trainings with the tools and techniques they need to execute a successful digital education system.
AW: How did you become interested in digital literacy and e-learning?
AA: Sometime last year I discovered that education was growing out of what it used to be and discovered the flexibility of learning and the fact that the traditional system of having a student in the classroom, the physical classroom, is becoming archaic. I did my research and I saw that was trending and working in several places. The integration of technology into education as I have discovered brings about greater learning outcome and improved performance on the learner’s part. I tutor a lot of students one-on-one to prepare them for international exams.
AW: With most learning having transitioned to being online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, what do you think is the biggest challenge in e-learning?
AA: I would say, the question is really related to the environment. If you ask me for a place like Nigeria, even in Nigeria we have places where e-learning is not a problem, we could say problems such as learner’s engagement. In some places in Nigeria, it works. So even though we have some other places where it looks like it’s not possible probably because learners are not able to afford the facilities.
In developed environments, what I would say is a challenge is learner’s engagement, being able to fully engage learners online. As an educator, if you understand your learner’s type and what your learners want–like today, I was teaching a little girl and while I was teaching her math I noticed her interest level dropped, and I just stopped and asked her, “What would you like to do?” to make the moment fun and exciting. And she said, “Sometimes I like to play games and read.” When I turned on the game, I discovered that she became interested. We switched and learned the game way, and she said “I can’t wait for the next class.” I think it becomes a big challenge when the teacher doesn’t understand the learner.
AW: Individualized attention is important for students and it’s really difficult in larger class settings, so I definitely think there’s a place for that with e-learning. So, to follow up on the challenges of e-learning, what do you think is a benefit of it?
AA: I would say that first of all, before any class starts, it’s important to be trained on the ethics of a virtual learning environment. Digital education is a different thing entirely, you have to learn and understand what it looks like, pros and cons. First as an educator, you need to understand what e-learning looks like, most importantly how to achieve active engagement. Look at tools that can arouse their interest. From my own experience, you have to teach to their interest. One of the latest approaches is a game-based learning approach. Learners are more interested. I could get upset because the student is not doing what they’re supposed to, but I just need to be able to engage my learners actively. You still need to be able to engage them online. So I think that’s a better approach in e-learning.
AW: The EvolvEd team is really excited about our recent partnership with Eazy-Digi Edtech Solutions. I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about how this company came to be, how the name was chosen, etc.
AA: Eazy–you’re trying to make something easy, Digi–you’re trying to talk about the digital. Our vision is to create the simplified approach to digital education. We want to make it easy. Edtech solutions–providing solutions through education technology.
AW: I noticed your core values with your company are creativity, affordability, and simplicity. Can you talk about how you decided that those would be the things to prioritize?
AA: In this part of the world in Nigeria, we discovered the education system is so busy with so many things that are outdated and not creative. And the reason it’s not creative is because they spend a lot of time trying to keep the system running. And creativity is embedded in everyone–we believe that everyone has the capacity to be creative. But how can you be creative if you’re busy trying to sustain the system?
With curriculum, and this is part of our training, teachers love to create content. Teachers learn to create content ranging from worksheets to slides to visuals to create something original that can be used to better serve their learners. That’s the idea of creativity. With teachers, we ask them to stop what they’re doing to be creative to better suit their learners. We want to encourage teachers to be creative.
And then comes affordability, right now we’ve been running a series of free trainings–they don’t pay for it, it’s all free–we also understand the time that we’re in. It’s not really a good time for teachers because many schools have shut down. That’s the first side of affordability. The second side is we tried to look for tools that are affordable. Most of these tools are expensive you know with the pro package, the premium package. We have taken time with our research team to discover tools that are free that can be used as a digital toolbox when it comes to online.
And then when it comes to the part on simplicity, we also want tools that are not too complex, tools that they can easily handle and engage their learners with. Because the learners need to learn how to use the tools with them. So that’s the theme with creativity, affordability, and simplicity.
AW: As an education major, what you say about creative learning really resonates with me. I agree that every student has the capacity to be creative, and it comes down to whether they have the opportunity with their learning and standardized education. There’s always tension with finding a balance between enabling creativity and meeting state-mandated expectations, so I appreciated that perspective.
AA: Yeah, definitely.
AW: I was curious about where you see the future of edtech going post-pandemic once these unusual circumstances are resolved? Do you see the edtech solutions happening now returning to a back burner once in-person teaching resumes or do you see the two becoming more integrated?
AA: I have discovered that evolution in technology is really unpredictable. Over time, I have seen the world embrace technological development. I see in the future of education learning out of the classroom, learning without needing to be in a physical location. The rate at which education is evolving, even right now, even before the pandemic, I knew several universities that were having online programs. Even before the pandemic, that shows that is a reality that is coming to stay.
I see the future as learning beyond the walls of the classroom. I’m so sure it’s going to happen. We’re at a time where learners wake up in the morning and have to go to a physical location. Digital education has just been proven to be more effective. When I’m teaching online–the flexibility of the approach–makes it possible for me to know my learners. Technology as it comes over and over is going to be embraced. The building is probably going to just be a place for administration.
AW: You have experience teaching math and physics specifically and are offering courses on EvolvEd. Do you have advice for tutoring academic subjects specifically with remote learning?
AA: I would say that every learner has the capacity to be excellent. I would say that a teacher has to be patient. You need to understand who your learner is. First of all, as an educator, you understand yourself. I need to understand myself and how I teach, my methods, the same way my learners are learning from me. Once I know my learning method and I know my learners’ learning method, I see that there should be a balance. I try to build content and methods around my student’s personality to better suit them. And then I need to be patient, especially when it comes to math and physics with the calculations.
Also, give the learner the opportunity to go through a concept over and over again. With my company, there’s a model that we discovered, we call it the FAD model–Flip, Adaptive, Differentiative model. We believe that when a flip model is followed by the adaptive approach and then further differentiated, it’s better suited for learners because Flip, I provide the materials; Adaptive, I come to class, assess, and discover the gaps; Differentiative, I read my materials to specifically address those weaknesses. It’s a cycle. That would be my advice for tutoring.
AW: That’s all the questions I had for you today. Is there anything you would like to add?
AA: Nothing much, just that this was a nice time. Thank you for the partnership, I so much appreciate it.