Held under the theme ‘Education and the 21st Century: Skills, Opportunities and Challenges,’ the 7th Annual Global Education Forum (GEF) and the Gulf Education Supplies and Solutions Exhibition (GESS) resumed yesterday (Wednesday, March 5, 2014) with an estimated 7,000 people including officials, educators, professionals, and industry leaders attending the event. On the second day of the forum, participants presented their research papers and attended workshops to talk about the current issues facing the global education industry.
The discussions centered on key subjects touching on technological empowerment; parent-student relationships and their role in the education sector and other challenges facing the education system. International achievements in terms of technology, teaching methods and other methodologies were also highlighted during the event. The forum provided learning opportunities to the UAE Government as it stepped up its efforts to achieve better and high-quality learning while adopting the industry’s best practices.
Why go to school?
During his presentation titled ‘Why Go to School?’ Ewan McIntosh, CEO, NoTosh Limited, noted that “giving life to education” is one of the hardest challenges faced by many teachers today. The method revolves around delivering a comprehensive learning experience to the students. Many educators have adopted this practice by implementing ‘Genius Hour,’ which empowers students to explore their own passions by allocating 20 per cent of their time deciding what and how they want to learn.
What happens if we apply this step all the time and students become responsible for what they learn and how they want to learn it? They even determine when they want to learn and the process becomes a norm rather than an exception. How can the school principal contemplate this transformation? McIntosh answered these questions and shared some poignant stories he experienced while working in schools from around the globe like Asia, Australia, Europe and North America. These stories explained why students go to schools.
Enrollment and Acceptance
During a workshop titled ‘The Student Admission List (Enrollment and Acceptance),’ Mohammed Al Khumairi, Director of Specialized Schools, UAE Ministry of Education, explained the admissions guidance and procedures which will be adopted by UAE-based schools in April 2014. Based on the latest guidelines, registration will begin on March 1 up to the end of April 2014. Al Khumairi also talked about the new admission system which is specifically designed to be used by parents.
He added that some of the new amendments to the Student Admission List (Enrollment and Acceptance) are the following: age limit for admission is four years old; admission to Grade 1 at six completed years; raising compulsory education age to 18 years old; and compulsory education for all six-year-old male and female children until high school or until reaching the age of 18.
“The central list gives school officials the power regarding enrollment and acceptance of students. It covers all public and private schools, adult education, home education, and special needs education. In case of student transfer from a public school to a private school, or vice-versa, it shall be based on request by parent and in accordance with MOE requirements,” Al Khumairi said.
He also explained the use of the ID Card Reader by installing the program into the computer to be activated and used by parents.
Effect of Games
Steven Stevenson, CEO & Founder of Savivo-Savivo, talked about ‘The Effect of the Use of Games and Technologies on Education.’ He reaffirmed that online learning has enabled customized learning where there is no need for classmates or peers. Children can go beyond the defined school boundaries and curricula to learn much more than what is provided while having fun and entertainment at the same time. Games and teaching were never this close before and that is exactly what this idea implies with two interesting challenges – Does virtual learning outperform traditional learning and what is the effect of using online educational games and technologies on the learning process of the child?
Nurturing the Gifted
Mariam Al Ghawi, Head of Management of the Gifted, Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Performance, talked about the education of gifted students which is recognized as one of the key educational priorities in the UAE. The organization has established a national plan to nurture the gifted with the aim of identifying their talents and supporting them all the way to reach the highest levels of success and therefore invest their capabilities towards the benefit of the country and work on developing them.
‘Nurturing the Gifted’ is a leading online system, including all operations related to the gifted and can be used to access any data about any gifted student who has already passed all set standards and been given a sponsorship. The program can also be used to access statistics related to the gifted students and document data related to them and their teachers and schools, while also allowing assessment for various programs of relevance.
The program aims at providing a comprehensive system for encouraging gifted and talented students based on the highest standards and tools which help teachers discover the electronically gifted students, extracting the results while saving effort and time spent manually to correct tests. The program also suggests the most suitable development program for each candidate student based on his/her test results, providing a database for the teachers and schools. It also provides comprehensive reports about candidate students and statistics related to the gifted students, their schools and its teaching methods. The report will help in the areas of online programs assessment, evaluation forms analysis, while facilitating quick access to information.
David Hudgson, the leading international education expert, discussed the top nine habits adopted by the best school leaders. He said that great schools need great leaders, raising the question “What are the qualifications of the great school leader?” The session provided the platform to be acquainted with the top nine qualifications of the best school leaders in the world, which can be applied to teachers and parents as well.
Evan Kozyo, the renowned international education expert, talked on ‘Teaching for Employment.’ She said: “Nowadays, the teachers’ success all over the world is linked to the ability to inspire the students to develop their abilities to utilize Information Technology and Telecommunications and apply it in their classrooms. This process is being applied in one teachers’ college in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which offers a three-year Bachelor’s program to enhance future teachers’ abilities to use advanced technology in classrooms and adopt modern teaching methods based on online learning model. The program equipped the future teachers with problem-solving skills as well as provided them with the ability to choose the right teaching method using online tools and
Dr. Mohammed Al Juwaiber, Manager, Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States, discussed ‘Utilizing the New Web Tools to Reach Better Learning and Education.’ In his work paper, he shed light on the Web 2.0 tools. He also referred to the ‘Teacher’s Guide to Web 2.0,’ which was translated into Arabic by the Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States. The guide is written by Gwen Solomon, Senior Analyst, Office of Educational Technology (OET), the U.S. Department of Education, and Lynne Schrum, a researcher who focuses on the aspects of the appropriate use of information technology.
The work paper represents great significance as it highlighted the Web 2.0 tools and its vital role in the education sector. Learning the 21st Century Skills, especially that related to Web 2.0 tools, is a unique method to develop students’ abilities in adapting to the rapid changes taking place in the knowledge-based society. This method ensures the smooth process of teaching and learning while using the new advanced tools. It also enhances students’ skills to utilize the new learning opportunities in the classrooms and beyond.
Addressing knowledge enhancement among youth, international education expert Jay Richards talked about the emergence of social media, the accompanying Self-Organized Learning Environments (SOLEs) of Web 3.0 and internet sources which play an important role in breathing life into education. The presentation focused on how school leadership gains momentum as it is a vital tool in driving change in education. The research emphasizes that the availability of fair opportunities could be the basis for bridging the educational achievement. The school leaders can play an effective role in this equation through using the best tools, including psychology, Information Technology and modern teaching methods, which create conditions ripe for better learning and effective teaching.
Students and Reading
James Bell, Director of Renaissance Learning discussed ‘How to Encourage Students to Read: Bridging Gap between Assessment and Guidance.’ He said: “Most published international studies focuses on the importance of reading. This session is of a great significance as it demonstrated not only how to encourage students to read more books, but also how to monitor their development in terms of using computer and other modern technology.”
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