Dig­i­tiz­ing Schools Is the New Front­line in the MENA'S Dig­i­tal Evo­lu­tion

Arabnet - The Quarterly - - Front Page - By Alexis Bagh­dadi | @Guer­rillawriter

The out­look for the MENA’S dig­i­tal and tech scene is promis­ing, and with back­ing from the right sup­port­ive ecosys­tem, it could very well com­pete and af­firm it­self on the global scene. In­cu­ba­tors, ac­cel­er­a­tors, and in­vestors have taken up all the at­ten­tion in this ecosys­tem so far, but it may now be time to go back to school - lit­er­ally.

A com­mon prob­lem that many MENA star­tups and in­no­va­tive com­pa­nies face is the in­suf­fi­cient sup­ply of lo­cal tal­ent or its in­ad­e­quate skill set. Clearly, the so­lu­tion should start in univer­si­ties – in schools even. This is where the de­vel­op­ers, pro­gram­mers, and strate­gists of to­mor­row will come from be­fore they ven­ture into the dig­i­tal and tech scene. “To­day’s learn­ers are grow­ing up in a world where tech­nol­ogy is se­cond na­ture to them. They are not as phased by its use add value and make stu­dents’ learn­ing more ef­fi­cient and more en­joy­able. Only then can schools max­i­mize out­comes and pre­pare stu­dents for a life of work, self-ac­tu­al­iza­tion, and con­tin­u­ous learn­ing in a dig­i­tal, global so­ci­ety. “The GEMS Dig­i­tal Strat­egy fo­cuses more on build­ing new mod­els of learn­ing than it does on tech­nol­ogy – and I firmly be­lieve this is how it should be,” said Red­head.

The Roadmap to Dig­i­ti­za­tion SABIS dates back to 1866 when the In­ter­na­tional School of Choueifat was founded in Le­banon. It has been us­ing tech­nol­ogy since the late 1960s, said Bakhos, adding that this has been a dy­namic and on­go­ing process. As new tech­nolo­gies kept aris­ing, all the school’s op­er­a­tions were grad­u­ally in­te­grated with stu­dent tablets, teacher tablets, IWBS, wire­less con­nec­tiv­ity, etc. There are over 300 in­di­vid­u­als work­ing in the re­search and de­vel­op­ment cen­ter at the SABIS head­quar­ters in Adma (Le­banon) to eval­u­ate, test, and in­te­grate the var­i­ous aca­demic and tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions into the sys­tem. The school starts by mea­sur­ing a new pro­ject’s po­ten­tial im­pact on the learn­ing and teach­ing pro­cesses: “We’re not just us­ing tech­nol­ogy for the sake of it,” he said. It then launches a pi­lot to de­ter­mine the needed re­sources. If suc­cess­ful, it ini­ti­ates full im­ple­men­ta­tion. The IT staff at each school en­sures that the in­fra­struc­ture is al­ways ad­e­quate to de­ploy new so­lu­tions (net­work, se­cu­rity, back-up, hard­ware, soft­ware con­fig­u­ra­tion), and is re­spon­si­ble for train­ing users, with the sup­port of a spe­cial­ist team at head­quar­ters (who set cor­rect com­pli­ance stan­dards). Tech­nol­ogy has in­fil­trated vir­tu­ally ev­ery as­pect of the SABIS ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem. The school started dig­i­tiz­ing its cur­ricu­lum by break­ing it into small com­po­nents, which helped iden­tify stu­dents’ learn­ing gaps. The main out­come of this is the SABIS In­te­grated Learn­ing Sys­tem, which com­bines in­ter­ac­tive white­boards (IWBS) and in­ter­ac­tive e-books (the dig­i­tized ver­sion of all the school’s pro­pri­etary text­books in 7 lan­guages). This has helped stan­dard­ize les­son de­liv­ery and im­proved

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