For the movers behind the 10×1000 Tech for Inclusion program, learning occurs beyond childhood or the classroom. The philanthropic fintech initiative seeks to train at least 1,000 individuals and tech leaders across emerging markets each year, for at least a decade.
Jason Pau, Program Lead at 10×1000 Tech for Inclusion, details how the program adapted to the learning challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic — including digital fatigue and lockdowns — and shares his thoughts on the future of hybrid education.
Now that we’re nearly three years into the pandemic, how is 10×1000 Tech for Inclusion adopting technology for and enhancing online learning?
In the initial years of the program, it offered in-person learning and networking, such as structured classes, field trips, and company visits in China. As the pandemic emerged, we all were forced to cope with physical restrictions as social distancing measures and lockdowns were implemented worldwide. This also pushed us to rethink, upgrade, and optimise our online presence, in order to ensure greater accessibility to our global learners.
The pandemic catalysed our efforts and led to the launch of our 10×1000.org online platform in 2021. In our inaugural year of operating it, we certified over 1,000 learners across 66 countries and regions globally. To optimise the online learning experience, our platform focuses on three areas:
- Content designed specifically for working professionals – We make sure that the lessons are bite-sized and easy for busy learners to internalise and access. The 45-minute lessons are broken into smaller segments of approximately 3-5 minutes each, lowering the barrier to entry for people who wish to embark on an online learning journey.
We have also invested efforts to make the online learning experience more interactive and keep learners engaged. This includes adding visual elements like infographics and animations, as well as online quizzes after each lesson.
Each of these features may not seem groundbreaking on their own, but taken as a whole, these additional components have created a more enriching online learning experience for learners.
- Learning with a global community – The power in learning as a community, especially as a global one, could not be understated, especially in emerging and rapidly changing industries like fintech.
To this end, we have leveraged technology to enable alumni search and connect functions on our platform to encourage more interactions and sharing among learners, and host online and hybrid events to provide learners opportunities to network.
- Small innovations to make the reward of learning more accessible – When learners complete 10×1000 programs, they earn a personalised, blockchain-enabled digital certificate of completion.
We also provide alumni-customised QR codes where they can easily access and review their learning journey.
With an increased number of online learning sessions, students often say that they are digitally fatigued now more than ever. How is 10×1000 Tech for Inclusion addressing such issues?
Digital fatigue is a big issue. The key is to solve our natural human tendencies and desires. On the 10×1000 platform, we focus on enabling greater online interaction and dialogue while keeping things fresh. Like many others, we leverage speed networking, music, interactive polling, and other similar features to keep things lively.
While content is certainly king, we have found that our learners have high levels of engagement online when we integrate global viewpoints into the topic of discussion. That is, online learning on fast-changing and dynamic topics like fintech are best when content is complemented with interactions with learners from other regions. Cross-regional learning has emerged as one of the key desires of our community.
At the same time, we believe that hybrid offline/online models of engagement will stay with us for a long time. To promote more offline engagement, we launched the 10×1000 Local Connect Lead program, where local community alumni leads were identified in Malaysia, Pakistan, and Singapore. These volunteer leads will facilitate in-person events and sharing in their respective markets, and link up together online to enhance cross-country hybrid sharing.
Do you think there would be a hybrid mode of education even after things return to normal in the future?
Absolutely. The pandemic provided a big boost in demand for providers of online content and many opened their learning patterns to also include online content. Supply and demand have both increased.
We’re probably around 5-7 years ahead in the adoption of hybrid education and online learning. Hybrid education is here to stay as more providers enter the market and offerings become cheaper, more accessible, and feature richer content. At the same time, learners will see that learning in person and online together opens new perspectives and experiences.