The Future of Education in Southeast Asia

For years, colleges and universities offered remote learning options, particularly for non-traditional students, like working adults. However, when the pandemic struck last year, the education sector – alongside many other industries – had to undertake a massive migration online and implementing some form of remote learning as classrooms closed across Southeast Asia. Suddenly, school was in session—at home.


As countries loosened restrictions, many schools reopened with an expanded approach: hybrid learning. This typically means each student can choose to participate either in person or remotely—or a combination of both. Many students will continue logging into virtual classes for the foreseeable future. That’s a relief to many students, who enjoy the benefits of remote learning, like the flexibility to learn at their own pace. However, new distractions, technological barriers, and poor digital experiences make remote learning difficult for others.


What education institutions accomplished, in response to the pandemic, swiftly evolved the industry by leaps and bounds. Now, there’s more work to do.


Building a Digital Campus


According to our recent Digital Frontiers 3.0 study, at least one-third (33%) of Thai respondents said that educational institutions delivered a better digital experience now than before the pandemic. Additionally, 38% of Thai consumers found that educational institutions delivered an improved overall experience. Additionally, 34% are happy to continue interacting digitally with educational institutions.


Source: Digital Frontiers 3.0, conducted by YouGov and commissioned by VMware


The shift to remote learning abruptly moved students to a digital campus. Educators across the region scrambled to teach students in their homes. Students and teachers accessed video conferencing, online learning platforms and other online tools and content.


That was step one, though. Next, educators need to make these digital experiences:

  • Simpler to access.
  • Faster to connect.
  • More reliable and consistent.
  • Less confusing and complicated to troubleshoot.


It starts with the institution’s digital infrastructure. Virtual data centers that run on software are less rigid (and less expensive) than hardware. IT organizations with these modern data centers have much more flexibility and agility to accommodate online learning.


IT can quickly gain computing capacity in the cloud, so they can distribute and manage new devices, apps, and virtual desktops from anywhere. IT teams also have more constant visibility into a software-based infrastructure. They can use software automation to fix problems and adjust as needed. This way, digital infrastructure is always available and running at peak performance. And this is especially important for running more advanced applications and interactive, virtual lab environments.



Keeping students safe in a digital learning environment


In the Digital Frontiers 3.0 survey, Thai consumers revealed how assured they felt about their data security by different industries. Compared to before the coronavirus pandemic began, only three in 10 respondents (33%) felt that educational institutions gave them the assurance they needed that their data and information is secure.


This clearly indicates that educators and institutions are not only accountable for their students’ safety.


In hybrid learning environments, these responsibilities expand:

  • Protecting students’ data privacy.
  • Safeguarding them from online threats and harmful content.
  • Complying with digital guidelines and regulations.


Outdated security models and ineffective tools impede the progress of digital-first learning. It also puts students and institutions at risk. So, education IT leaders are implementing more modern technologies with built-in security and modern security frameworks, like unified endpoint management and zero-trust security.


Closing the digital learning gap by empowering educators and students


Another enduring challenge to online learning is equity. As education digitized over the years, students don’t have equal access to devices, apps, and internet connectivity. Widespread remote learning revealed even greater disparities in the online learning gap.


Even in a hybrid learning model, every student deserves a high-quality digital education. It’s not just about convenience or access. It’s also critical to developing in-demand digital skills among students for the future of work and leadership. This extends to non-traditional students and the general public, as well. In fact, half of Thai respondents (50%) believe educational institutions are responsible for developing digital literacy, which is the ability to access and consume a variety of online services.



Innovating faster to the future of education


It is an exciting time to be in the education IT industry—or to be a student, teacher, faculty member or parent. Education in Southeast Asia has never been closer to truly personalizing learning, breaking ground on entirely new learning models. Ultimate, digital experiences help prepare students for the careers of the future.


The modern technologies mentioned above provide the digital foundation for education IT leaders to:

  • Continuously innovate and break down barriers.
  • Freely incorporate emerging technologies into the digital infrastructure, like artificial  intelligence. These innovations accelerate the path to more individualized, student-centered learning and assessments.
  • Redirect resources and technologies to support teachers and faculty.
  • Differentiate with groundbreaking learning and business models, such as more collaborative learning ecosystems.


There is little doubt that the traditional, in-person-only educational model is changing. For Southeast Asian educators and institutions to move faster to the digital future and shape the future of education, we must be ready to accommodate change today and what’s coming tomorrow.

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