Pearson-Intel white paper on digital learning holds lessons for UAE

7 April 2014

A new report from two of the world’s most respected learning organisations outlines how personalised, one-to-one learning environments can transform the educational outcomes of students in the Arab world. 

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Dr Michelle Selinger, co-author of the 2014 Intel-Pearson white paper, 'Realising the Potential of Every Learner: Advancing Toward Personalised One-to-One Learning', has visited the UAE where she has called on educators to embrace the learning opportunities presented by the latest technological innovations.

The research presented in the Intel-Pearson White Paper demonstrates the potential of personalised, one-to-one learning to help improve educational outcomes and prepare students and societies for success in a 21st century, global community. However, according to Dr Selinger, who is also CEO of Britain’s ConsultEdu, achieving such outcomes is not always simple or straightforward:

'Educators understand that technology-rich, personalised learning environments allow learners to develop the skills, knowledge and social capabilities necessary to participate in a future global workforce. However, the creation of such learning environments is fraught with challenges – leaving many educators wanting to utilise the latest and most effective digital solutions, but unsure about how or where to start.'

According to the Intel-Pearson report, a successful digital transformation in an educational environment relies on several factors, including:

  • quality teacher professional development that gives teachers the skills they need to utilise the technology to the benefit of their students
  • planning and project management that ensures resources are allocated in the right place at the time
  • robust hardware and networking infrastructure and a strong deployment plan and schedule that allows for both infrastructure and devices to meet schools’ demand for services; and
  • technology choices that are driven by educational requirements, including the need for reliable devices, strong data security and reliable internet access.
The report holds significance for the Gulf region, where spending on digital education initiatives is high by international standards. The UAE Government, for example, has committed to providing all kindergarten to year 12 state school learners with tablet devices and digital learning content by 2017 through the Mohammed bin Rashid Smart Learning Programme.

Dr Selinger says that it will be largely left to teachers to ensure that this widespread deployment of digital technology in the region leads to an improvement in student outcomes. She says it is therefore of critical importance that teachers are given the training and support needed to create dynamic and engaging digital learning environments.

'The important question that we must ask ourselves as policy makers is how do we empower our teachers to move confidently from traditional learning models to innovative learning environments personalised to the needs of each and every student? A successful and well-supported professional development model can help to create teachers who inspire student learning, creativity and innovation. Such a model should also encourage school leaders to understand the implications of personalised learning and ensure the conditions for teachers to be empowered by technology in their teaching are in place. These factors will lie at the heart of successful transformations to digital learning environments both here in the GCC and right around the world.' 

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