How Rumie Can Help Telecoms Bridge the Digital Divide

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Spotlight on Innovations in Education |

Toronto, Canada based edtech startup Rumie is utilizing innovative technologies in order to remove barriers to learning. Its freely available educational platform holds great potential for the global telecoms community to bride the digital divide.

As part of our spotlight on Innovations in Education – Negar Nikaeein – Partnerships Manager, Rumie speaks with Zia Askari from about the organisation’s current focus and its future plans.

How do you look at the current scenario of usage of technology for delivering education to underserved communities of the world?

There are a lot of great things happening in this space that leverage both online and offline learning. The low cost of each additional learner creates an unparalleled opportunity to meet community learning needs using technology.

               Negar Nikaeein from Rumie

What more can be done here and what are some of the disruptive and yet cost-effective technologies that can help in this direction?

When it comes to adults, a lot of emphasis is placed on building hard skills through formal education: technical skills like computer programming for example.

This requires people to know what they want to invest their time studying, which also assumes that everyone has the same time, money, and resources available to invest in their learning.

We created Rumie-Learn as a direct response, designed to be the on-ramp to learning. Completely free, it gives people an opportunity to explore new topics, and self-direct their learning outcomes.

What role can Telecom Operators play in order to augment the delivery of Education to underserved communities?

While providing communities with internet access via free public wifi installations is critical, progress does not end with connectivity. The internet has a lot of great resources but it also has a lot of places to waste time.

Telecom Operators can take connectivity to the next level through a commitment to using connectivity for good. Telecoms can make the leap by partnering with organizations to nudge communities to scroll with purpose and bridge the digital divide.

What are some of the best practices that telecom operators / ISPs can follow in this space?

Providing free public wifi access is a big component to delivering education.

Working closely with communities to identify public gathering points where Wi-Fi can be accessed easily and providing this service for free is instrumental in giving communities more opportunities.

Collaborating with edtech organization’s like Rumie to deliver Rumie-Learn in these public areas, further encouraging learning by putting the right resources directly in the hands of learners is an innovative way to move connectivity towards meaningful connectivity.

Working together to constantly innovate and understand community needs, leveraging data to find what technological advances we can make to push the needle – these are the best practices that need to emerge in the telco industry.

What is the role of your organization in this space?

We have created a free online life and career development library centred on microlearning instructional design principles. What this means is that all our content is focused on fundamental human skills irreplaceable by technology, delivered in short bursts of 3, 6, and 9 minute Bytes, optimized for a mobile-first design. Anyone waiting for the bus or waiting for a friend can really quickly explore a topic that leaves them with actionable takeaways.

By working closely with ISPs who share our vision of bridging the digital divide, we leverage public wifi hotspots where Rumie-Learn is the default landing page, encouraging people to engage content unique to community needs. We’re placing the resources directly in the hands of the community, transforming time that might be wasted on social media, into meaningful opportunities for skill-building and growth.

What are some of the innovations that you are bringing today?

Dynamic, Content Library – not static, content is being added & updated in real-time, based on learner needs. 150+ Bytes published on the platform on high-stake 21st century skills, authored by experts & reviewed against our rigorous quality assurance standards.

Data-driven – Bytes, combined with our end-to-end digital delivery model, allow us to capture a wealth of data related to learner behaviours, usage & reach. This crucial data informs our system of iterative improvements. The outcome is a system that meets the evolving needs of modern learners & gets better over time, enhancing learning outcomes.

Accessibility Widget – leveraging speech to text, text to speech capabilities, rich audio descriptions, dark mode/light mode etc.

Gamification – Using the principles & key elements of gaming to meet learning objectives. Gamification elements include points, achievement badgers & progress bars. AI-enabled learning pushes us to move away from rewarding memorization to rewarding curiosity + experimentation.

Adaptive, learning algorithms that mimic real-world cognitive moments.

Omni-channel learning – Blended learning, blending + integrating online + offline learning channels (mobile app, SMS/text-based, web etc). Building a unified interface + user experience, with a format that can be easily adapted to different channels.

How do you look at the future? – what are some of the geographies where you are focusing today?

The future will be to move away from mindless scrolling, harnessing the power of social media tools for learning, to ultimately encourage purposeful scrolling.

This is the essence of getting life-changing learning in the hands of more people, for a fraction of the traditional cost. By retaining the elements we love (interactivity, instant, easy) but promote positive behaviors and outcomes for the individual (upskilling that leads to gainful employment, we can ensure everyone has a chance at success, regardless of where they are in the world.

The future of Rumie will involve an extension of what we’re doing today, in that we will constantly be pushing the boundaries. Learning on Rumie will continue to be personalized, self-serve, omni-channel, and data driven.