Innovation That Matters

What Can We Learn About Remote Learning From Past Education Innovations?

Lessons From the Innovation Archive

We’ve been tracking innovative remote learning solutions for many years, as increased connectivity in all parts of the world have helped rural, remote and often poor communities benefit.

Whilst the response to the coronavirus pandemic is already spurring new and innovative ideas and solutions that may shape sectors for years to come, we can also look to the past for lessons in agility. With this in mind, Springwise is unearthing ideas from our extensive archive of over 10,000 innovations that are relevant to the times we find ourselves in today.

Remote learning is now on the minds of not only parents but anyone in COVID-19 lockdown-mode looking to pick up new skills. We’ve been tracking innovative solutions in this area for many years, as increased connectivity in all parts of the world helped rural, remote and often poor communities benefit. 

Great distances and treacherous terrain became less of a barrier, and virtual lessons, such as Making Ghanaian Girls Great!, could be tailored to specific communities, traditions and circumstances. Furthermore, streaming platforms like showed professional developers at work in real-time, letting people learn new skills and a better understanding of what the job entails. 

For more lessons in business innovation, check out Disrupt! by Springwise’s James Bidwell, now available in paperback. 

View all articles in our Lessons From the Innovation Archive series.


Originally published: 21st August 2014

People with developmental disorders can often learn to perform difficult tasks, but they need special help in order to do so, and instructions designed for non-disabled readers can be confusing. We’ve already seen Match use colour-coded equipment to help those with autism make sense of the kitchen, and now a new interactive magazine called Look, Cook and Eat is designed especially to teach those with learning difficulties how to cook for themselves.

Created by Sue Hoss, a coffee shop owner who works with intellectually disadvantaged people, the magazine aims to be an alternative to existing cooking publications and online recipes that can be difficult to follow. Using images, video and audio voiceovers, the magazine will present recipes in an easy-to-understand format which cuts out the more complicated tasks and recommends equipment and foods that work well for those with conditions such as autism, Down’s syndrome and other learning difficulties. The recipes use a standard format with repetitive elements that help reinforce basic cooking skills. The meals are designed to be healthy and — although they require a helper or supervisor — aim to give users some sense of independence in the kitchen.


Originally published: 11th November 2014

Deprived regions in Africa often don’t have the money or resources to offer students basic education. We’ve already written about initiatives such as Ideas Box, which provide disconnected communities with books, e-readers and tablets. Now Making Ghanaian Girls Great is a program that’s delivering expert education from the country’s capital to remote places using virtual teaching in the classroom.

Currently running as a 2-year pilot and organized by the UK’s GEMS Education Solutions, all the material for each course is broadcast from one central teaching studio located in Accra. With the help of basic tech such as video conferencing and microphones in the classroom, students receive 2 hours of interactive education every day. Schools are equipped with a webcam, computer and satellite that mainly run on solar energy to minimize costs. On location, there’s a local helper that has teaching and computer skills to provide guidance for the kids. 

After school, there’s a special ‘Wonder Woman’ club where female role models are featured and students get the opportunity to participate in a Q&A. 72 government schools are currently participating in the scheme, helping around 4,000 girls gain access to an education they otherwise couldn’t get.


Originally published: 15th July 2015

Coding is an increasingly valuable skill, and we have seen a number of online platforms springing up to offer free coding tutorials. Asciinema is an open-source coding archive which enables users to record coding sessions directly from their terminal for other users to learn from, while Free Code Camp is an organization letting anyone learn to code for free by working on projects for nonprofits. Positioned somewhere between the two is, which hosts live stream videos of experienced programmers coding while encouraging viewers to ask questions and give feedback.

The site has already attracted 40,000 users from 162 countries. Users follow other members and are notified when they start a new stream. Since the videos are streamed live, viewers gain more insight than they would watching an edited YouTube tutorial, which is likely to edit out a lot of the trial and error problem-solving that can be very valuable to beginners. Coders also benefit from the enhanced concentration that is created by knowing they have an audience.


Originally published: 21st December 2016

While we’re seeing more innovations aimed at breaking language barriers through technology, such as airport robot assistants or news article translations, a new app is aiming to assist users in learning another language with the help of digitized comic books.

The LingoZING app will support well known comic books in various languages, enabling users to build a digital library of titles, and as well as reading the comics users can use the app like an audiobook, listening to readings by voice actors in both their native tongue and the language they’re learning. A voice recording feature then allows the user to test their pronunciation, with the option to post recordings to social media.