Platforms Help Bridge Digital Divide in Learning Experiences

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From the automation of routine tasks to the harnessing of big data for informed decision-making, various industries are embracing digital transformation.

The result is profound changes in how businesses operate, interact with customers, and deliver products and services.

However, sectors like early education and childcare are lagging behind, still relying on traditional paper-based methods for record-keeping and communication. This outdated approach hampers administrative efficiency, impedes progress tracking for children, and disrupts communication between parents and caregivers.

To address this digital gap, emerging platforms are rising to the challenge, recognizing the need for modernization highlighted in a 2023 report by the U.S. Office of Educational Technology. The report categorizes education’s digital infrastructure as “critical infrastructure,” stressing the importance of adequate digital solutions that prioritize privacy, accessibility and multilingual support, among others.

Among these platforms is BridgeCare, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution that secured a $10 million investment Wednesday (Feb. 14) to accelerate digital transformation within the early care and education system. By collaborating with state and local governments, BridgeCare seeks to enhance the effectiveness of the early childhood education (ECE) system.

The company’s software is used in 14 states and over 500 counties, providing improved access to affordable, high-quality childcare and early childhood education for more than 500,000 families and 50,000 providers.

The investment will “build upon our existing relationships within the nation’s most ambitious ECE initiatives and deliver more innovations to make their equity and accessibility goals a reality,” BridgeCare Co-founder and CEO Jamee Herbert said in a statement.

Alpaca is another company that is contributing to the acceleration of digital transformation in the sector. The Irish firm has developed a digital tool designed to identify children at risk of reading difficulties even before they can read printed text, Irish Tech News reported Dec. 5.

Using a game that young school children can access on iPads or other tablet devices, the company aims to expedite the detection of potential future reading challenges in children at an earlier stage, thereby reducing testing time.

Following a yearlong pilot involving 1,000 children across 30 schools in five countries, including Ireland, the United States and the United Arab Emirates, about 90% of participants converted to paying customers, the report said.

As Alpaca founder Joe Fernandez explained in the report, the company’s goal is “to transform the education system from ‘wait-to-fail’ to ‘embrace-and-support’ by giving educators and parents the evidence-based tools they need to advocate for the individual child in front of them.”

Moreover, digital transformation is also reshaping higher education, with the integration of digital tools and online payment platforms catalyzing the broader evolution of the connected campus.

As detailed in the PYMNTS Intelligence report “The Automated Campus: Enabling the Future of Higher Education,” the features and functions students value the most in their college app include efficient payment management, convenient checking and updating of finances, and the use of the app as a virtual ID card.

Over 50% of surveyed students emphasized the importance of additional features such as receiving refunds, class attendance tracking, and using the app to access buildings and open doors, underscoring the growing significance of mobile automation in fostering a secure and convenient campus environment.

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