Before the 14-day COVID-19 lockdown was enforced to also include the typical roadside sellers and small-scale retailers in open markets, schools and churches were the first institutions to be put on lockdown. These, by far, are the biggest places to find a gathering of more than 50 people.
As part of the earliest preventive measures that were adopted, the Lagos State Government enforced an indefinite shut down of schools, which became effective on the 23rd of March 2020.
The number of confirmed Coronavirus cases in Nigeria as of today is 276. As the number of cases skyrockets, the country is slowly grinding to a halt, causing a frantic restriction of movement with companies implementing a remote work structure.
As scientists work to find vaccines for the virus, it persists and records fatalities. But life must go on. This is why many technology companies have been exploring ways people can virtually continue their their daily activities without much disruption. Their efforts range from telemedicine, with techies building platforms where people can determine whether or not they have the Coronavirus symptoms, to EdTech where an opportunity already lies with over one billion learners being affected globally.
There are also virtual meetings with corporate offices and clients, employees and employers, through platforms like ZOOM and other video conferencing apps which have been greatly normalized. Platforms like uLesson and eLimu are also making virtual learning the new normal.
The pandemic is indeed giving EdTech a massive upscale with everyone stuck at home with their devices – smartphones, IPads, laptops, e.t.c. In an atmosphere of uncertainty over how long the shutdown would last, it might turn out that virtual learning will be what the Nigerian educational system needs in order to be better.
Is this a short-term commercial opportunity?
This is probably the main question to ponder on. With the pandemic disrupting our lives, will schools be revolutionized by this experience or will they revert back to their former learning processes?
In just four weeks, uLesson has recorded about 40,000 app downloads. ULesson is an Edtech startup that was founded by Sim Shagaya in 2018. It’s a digital subscription-based learning platform mainly for secondary/high school students. While it has been available in Nigeria and some African countries such as Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Gambia all along, the COVID-19 lockdown has helped it to expand even further across Africa, Europe, and even North America.
Virtual learning may seem like a short-term commercial opportunity for EdTech startups, as trends come and go. Moreover, the pandemic will not last forever. But with over a billion students currently out of school and attempting to learn online, this may be an opportunity to reshape the way education is perceived in this generation. This has been a great reveal that there is, perhaps, another better way to learning other than physical interaction between the teachers and students.
Are there shortcomings?
Even though EdTech is connecting students who are at homes with online tutors, there are limitations to virtual learning. Evidently, there are pros. It is a solution not many people took note of until the crisis happened.
With e-learning, students can wholly take charge of their learning, understanding how they want to learn, where their interests lie, and what support they actually need from personalization to time management.
However, a complete online shift of students’ education can expose some inadequacies:
- Not all kids have smartphones or reliable internet connections, and uLesson saw this foresight long before the pandemic.
- High internet costs can discourage streaming educational content online.
Beyond tech, classrooms existed because of the interactions that enabled physical coaching and the ease of monitoring of a student’s performance. However, innovations are bound to happen in any field. For Edtech, this period may prove to be a golden era. The question, however, remains whether this experience will change the way education is done after the COVID-19 pandemic or not.
This article was written by Nairametrics’ TechRoundUp partners.
Tech Roundup S02E20
Discussion with an entrepreneur who has been using Tech to drive distribution of African Music. Demola Ogundele is the Founder of Notjustok.com
This week, we had a discussion with an entrepreneur, who has been using Tech to drive distribution of African Music.
Demola Ogundele is the Founder of Notjustok.com, a platform he started as a music blog over a decade ago. He has grown the company to be the leading African music repository and has had to change the business model to compete in this Tech age where big Tech firms like Amazon, Google and Apple actively distribute music including African and Nigerian songs.
Watch other episodes of Tech Roundup
During the discussion, we discussed the progress the company has made since inception and how he views the music industry post-covid. This episode is different and we hope you enjoy it.
Facebook takes on Zoom with its new video chat feature
Video-calling services have seen a sharp rise during the coronavirus pandemic with options like Zoom and its daily active users growing to 300 million.
Virtual Meetings have exploded in recent months with the Coronavirus outbreak forcing people to start working and socializing from home. Video-calling services have seen a sharp rise during the coronavirus pandemic with options like Zoom and its daily active users growing to 300 million in April.
Another popular option, the Houseparty, owned by Fortnite-maker Epic Games has been downloaded more than two million times as at the beginning of March and other apps, such as Microsoft Teams, offer premium features for free.
With the current trend and the need to meet the demands of teleconferencing, Facebook is jumping into video chat game with its product feature, Messenger Rooms, a new feature that will allow up to 50 people to take part in a video chat, even if they don’t have Facebook accounts.
Facebook has had a long and notorious history of expanding its features to emulate major competitors, from first launching stories on Instagram in 2016 as a clone of Snapchat. Now Facebook wants more of the video market and is trying to take on the now popular video sharing platform, Zoom (ZM).
Previously, the messenger video calls were limited to eight people but with this new video feature ‘Messenger Rooms,’ users can currently host a meeting with up 50 people at once with no time limit on its messenger app, it will also be added to the company’s other applications- WhatsApp will see that the maximum number of people who can simultaneously join a video call will increase from four to eight.
This new feature will be available on beta versions of WhatsApp for both Android and iOS. For making a video call with up to eight people, your WhatsApp must be running version 2.20.133 on Android and version 184.108.40.206 on iOS. The other condition is, the other participants that you’re looking to video and voice call, must also have the same beta version of WhatsApp running on their devices.
What’s the Catch?
Although these Messenger Rooms won’t be completely private, WhatsApp video and voice calls with up to eight people, will be end-to-end encrypted so no one else can view or listen in on private conversations, not even Facebook. Basically, end-to-end encryption is one of the main Unique Selling Points (USP) of the new video feature. Facebook is working to bring the security protocol to Messenger and Instagram Direct, so users will potentially be able to cross-platform chat across all these services one day, it’s easier said than done.
Like house party, the messenger rooms will let people drop in and out of the group video chats while the “room” is open just the way people have the ability to bump into each other in the physical world. Another catch of the new video feature is that users can create a Messenger Room that will be able to keep their room private, block unwanted participants, and send invitations to people who are not on Facebook.
Facebook is working to prevent the reoccurring issues its competitor’s faced like the “Zoombombing problem,” which let uninvited guests drop into video calls to abuse participants or share pornography. The company is working with cryptographers to make the links for the Messenger Rooms difficult for hackers to guess. Although, publicly discoverable rooms will be listed at the top of the Facebook news feed and chats will not be end-to-end encrypted. Possibly, this would be one of the reasons why Facebook may successfully take on Zoom with its security and end-to-end encrypted tactics.
Other features of the new video feature include:
- The ability to add eight people to a WhatsApp video call – up from four.
- The return of “Live With”, which lets users host Facebook Live streams with another person, to bring guests or performers on to their show.
- The ability to watch Instagram live videos on desktop computers.
- Participants will be able to use augmented reality filters and change their background in real-time.
Tech Roundup S02E19
The Nigeria tech space has seen major validation from global investors over the last few years, and reports
We conclude our Fintech Roundtable series, this time with a discussion on Fintech related investments.
The Nigeria tech space has seen major validation from global investors over the last few years, and reports show that over $400 million went into Fintech startups in 2019, and amid Covid-19, Nigeria based Fintechs have announced new rounds of investment this year but will this trend continue.
To help us unpack this, this panel discussion was led by Deji Sasegbon, Director of Platforms at EchoVC and a returning guest on
We covered several topics but focused on what investors might be doing differently going forward and how Investments in Fintech ideas and businesses across Africa might be impacted going forward.
Hope you find the episode interesting.