Education is classified as an undeniable right in the U.A.E. For a country that’s made remarkable progress in such little time, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Providing a world-class system for students is a major pillar of the National Agenda in line with Vision 2021.
One of the targets, is that U.A.E. students must be exemplary in reading, mathematics, science and have a strong command of the Arabic language. The government’s focus was underpinned further when it allocated 17.1% (10.4 billion) of the federal budget for general and higher education alone.
This generous support has led many to wonder how the investment can best be leveraged for the benefit of all pupils.
The obvious answers come to mind at first: infrastructure, highly-qualified instructors, extracurricular activities, sports teams, etc. However, while it may not seem apparent immediately, technology deserves its place on that list.
A campus that is mobile-ready promotes innovative and flexible learning, and a competitive advantage, hence why today’s students are increasingly using mobile technology during their college search process. Once enrolled, they aren’t simply requesting access to campus services on their devices, they demand it.
Their stance is backed by tech companies who believe that mobile technology, when used correctly, allows educators to move away from traditional lectures and focus more on individualized and project-based learning using cloud applications and online content.
Campuses around the world are paying close attention—according to EdTechXGlobal, the market is projected to grow at 17.0% per annum, to $252bn by 2020.
So how do such tools help exactly? One of the core benefits is enabling students, faculty and staff to securely access the apps, data and services they need from any location, device or network. They won’t have to worry about having to be on campus to download slides, upload assignments or attend e-lectures.
Flexibility aside, there are a host of additional reasons why it’s a good idea to introduce technology in the classroom. Inclusiveness for example. All students have their own ways of absorbing information, but technology can be the one constant that helps facilitate teaching methods to be the most effective. It also aids in transforming the learning experience entirely, making pupils more engaged, connected and creative.
There remains a caveat however: to obtain the greatest value from any solution, faculty IT teams need the right expertise and credentials. A tall order when they are overworked and short-staffed, which is a common challenge faced by organizations regardless of industry.
EDUCAUSE’s recent top 10 list of IT issues, ranked “IT Workforce Hiring and Retention” as #4, stating that many institutions are reducing budgets and benefits or flat-lining compensation during a period where fresh IT hires are essential to fulfilling company objectives. This, in combination with an improved job market for IT professionals, might make it tricky to keep existing and prospective staff.
Schools, colleges and universities can respond by optimizing their tech environment as soon as possible, using vendors that offer a range of professional services to augment, train and support their staff. As there are many options available when evaluating a prospect, it’s important that the following criteria be met.
Training courses should encompass virtualization, mobility, cloud and networking technologies and come with the option to be delivered onsite or via online portals. The vendor must also offer a host of support services in the event that systems go down, such as software and hardware.
It’s important to remember that technology isn’t meant to replace traditional teaching methods, but rather compliment them. Therefore, educators should take the time to learn about every aspect of ed-tech to maximize its potential in the classroom.
Keeping these points in mind, the education sector in the U.A.E. can increase the adoption, reliability and performance of their e-learning environments, to prepare students for success in the 21st century.