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Wed 19 Jun 2019 03:10 PM

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Why educators in the UAE must embrace today's seismic digital shift

The convergence of technology, learning and leadership is a journey that must begin before entering the workplace, according to Aaditya Tangri, the CEO of Kalebr Americas

Why educators in the UAE must embrace today's seismic digital shift
Aaditya Tangri, the CEO of Kalebr Americas

The 20th-century goal of increasing organisational efficiency has been replaced by the 21st-century mission to be more agile, innovative and digitally focused, in ways that defy organisational boundaries and challenge people to make connections and work seamlessly both within and outside of their organisations.

It will be about connecting knowledge workers with one another and connecting those same experts to the data, tools and context they need to address complex business scenarios. A recent report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) which predicts a staggering loss of jobs also highlights the need for specialised sales representatives who can explain and pitch new products to potential buyers and managers who are adept at leading organisations with complex networks of people through rapid and unpredictable change.

According to research from Microsoft, schools need to play a bigger role. Around half of teachers surveyed said schools were not honing the skills students needed to flourish in the future, citing classrooms that were still mostly using analogue equipment, with students experiencing a lack of access to technology devices. These findings are significant because casting our eye to the future, it is widely agreed that standardised roles will be increasingly automated. Machines will free people from routine tasks and yet, despite these revolutions in technology, the workplace will always contain people.

The human workforce will need to possess more strategic, non-routine skills and be able to effectively work with people working in complex networks of teams. This deems collaboration, creative thinking and emotional intelligence as key. Employees will spend a large part of their working week using technology to build collaborative partnerships across organisations.

In the teaching and learning sphere, technology has contributed to ubiquitous learning, allowed educators to create differentiated learning pathways, present content through an exciting medium, and enabled thought leaders to share global evidence-based practices on social media.

Technology has also worked wonders with hands-on experiential learning and collaboration. However, advancements in technology are, more often than not, simply an outcome of leading organisations around the world adopting and implementing best practices in order to succeed.

Ultimately, the barriers often lie within previous and existing investments. We need to understand how best to offer solutions that are modular and flexible, to suit every organisation’s needs.

In its report, Microsoft advises education institutions to focus on this pedagogical shift. It urged schools to equip teachers with the confidence, tools and knowledge in an environment to deliver the education students need to succeed in the future.

Kalebr’s STEAMathalon is a specific example of what is possible. It demonstrates how the application of technological advancements is revolutionising the education experience. STEAMathalon provides a framework for promoting collaboration, creative thinking, tolerance and well-being through real-world challenges in a competitive play-based innovation league. It is an initiative borne out of pilots carried out in Canada and Finland to promote an inclusive environment, mimicking future workplace settings, where learners tackle global challenges. These challenges span across fintech, space, sustainability, wearable fashion and healthcare, to name a few.

Kalebr’s recent ParOne STEAMathalon, is a good case study. It was a world first, hosted at The Els Club, Dubai. Open to grades seven, eight and nine, teams of young learners across the UAE used artificial intelligence to train up their very own GolfBots to golf pro status, competing against other learners from around the country as they traversed a custom nine-hole mini course. It was the world’s first tournament that combined AI and golf to promote 21st century skills while showcasing the future of learning. Teams were scored on persistent determination (grit), popularity, sustainability, tolerance, and the innovative project as a whole. This is the future of education, which is being made possible due to technology.