Sunday, January 26, 2020

Science Fests in the UAE go beyond Science to Immersive Learning

Schools Build “Classroom of The Future” with Immersive Learning Experience rooted in Science.

The recent “Hope” to Mars has raised new hopes of transformation at every stage of the Education value chain. The government is making huge investments in state-of-the-art infrastructure for schools in order to foster a learning environment that engages students and encourages them to think outside the box.

UAE’s government will be spending Dh 10 billion ($2.72 billion) on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and education technology (EdTech) through 2021.

In the world government summit early this year His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Education and Human Resources Council, UAE  said “studies show that 1.9 million jobs in the UAE will become redundant due to advancements in science and technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics, 3-D printing, and self-driving cars. These advancements highlight the need for young people to acquire new skills that can prepare them for a changing tomorrow”. Sheikh Abdullah also highlighted the need to “break the mould” and change the learning models to embrace remote learning for establishing an information-based economy.

Educationists, school administrative stakeholders, and teachers across the globe have been emphasizing on how traditional teaching methods and learning facts by rote are among the key reasons for students losing grip in science and maths, thereby missing on lucrative career options in technology, science, and engineering. “As we move further towards the knowledge-based economy, a large majority of jobs will be linked to careers focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM),” says Brett Girven, Deputy Head Teacher, Kings’ School Al Barsha.

The schools in the UAE are laying huge emphasis on developing transferable skills and building character among students. In the wake of the same, schools are organizing Science fests with innovative agendas. In a similar Science week at Horizon International School students witnessed an immersive learning experience facilitated by Munfarid, the leader in the space of immersive learning. In this transforming EdTech scenario exposure to immersive learning methods are inculcating zeal and passion for experiential and effortless learning among students, educators, as well as parents. Many schools and students across the globe are experiencing effortless learning through VRXOne immersive learning programs across domains like Science, space, and tolerance. “ EdTech has evolved making Immersive Learning an Integral part of STEM education. It lets students travel and explore anywhere from ancient Rome to taking a tour to space, virtually of course. Immersive experiences reinforce the classroom teaching and heighten the three-way engagement (teacher to student to the subject) ensuring knowledge retention of the students. With such an innovative learning and teaching platform, we are setting up a foundation for a knowledge-based economy.” said Head Teacher Mr. Darren Gale Horizon International School, Dubai.

The Immersive Learning expert, Trainer Mark Adkins shared his thoughts on how immersive VR technology in the classroom can really bring learning to life: “Using VR headsets and Google Expeditions is a truly fantastic way to transport the pupils’ learning outside the four walls of the classroom, and take them anywhere you want to go! Rather than just talking about space, you can actually take your class there, give them a tour around the solar system and visit the surface of Mars!”

Educationists pioneers, industry leaders and technology evangelists in the domain are playing their part in line with realizing the vision of the UAE government. As per the goals set by the Ministry of Education for teacher’s training this year, VRXOne conducted a comprehensive teacher’s training program on Immersive Learning through Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality to coincide with STREAM education reaching out to thousands of  teachers across the Middle East. The program is available in six different languages, including Arabic. Dr. Sana Farid, leading ARVR & Ai Strategist in MENA region, says that VRXOne program fully complies with the government strategy towards STREAM education, “We have our eyes set on the objective to innovate the Emirati educational system through technology led experiential learning solutions. STREAM approach has emerged as a natural fit for experiential learning and helps to inculcate a culture of deep learning among students.” She has initiated the ‘Go-to School’ Program bringing one million expeditions to students in the Middle East, the largest immersive EdTech drive in the region.

Expo2020 – A Must-Add for Innovative Academic Itineraries

Recent educational developments and agenda changes have also attracted global exhibitors to unleash the region’s untapped potential and generating numerous growth opportunities for the country as well. Expo 2020, Dubai’s long term investment in the future of the country will boost the economy by AED 122.6 billion (USD 33.4 billion) and support 905,200 job-years by 2031. It will be the very first World Expo to take place in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region.

As everyone gears towards the fast-approaching event, the students are enthusiastically curious about using Immersive Learning experiences to put their imagination to work and manifest their innovative ideas into reality. Expo aims at empowering the next generation to explore, create, and learn in a fun and immersive environment. It is bringing along a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students to learn and explore important topics such as UAE culture and heritage, global citizenship, innovation, careers of the future, and many more through immersive learning experiences. “We are planning journeys for school children that will be so much fun they won’t even know they’re learning” says Alya
Al Ali, director of Youth Connect, Expo 2020 Dubai. The highlights of the expo include various value programs to foster and nurture young science geeks.
Young innovators, Expo Champions are a couple of such programs at the Expo that align with UAE’s National Innovation Strategy of preparing “future-ready” students and establishing the knowledge-based economy.

Students to Witness a BIG Move – “Chalk & Talk to Simulated Effortless Learning”

Immersive Learning is bringing life to learning in the classroom setting. Schools are experimenting towards moving from chalk and Talk to immersing students in simulated environments that encourage creativity, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking. “Virtual reality does many great things. It’s great for storytelling and for students to see advanced concepts they couldn’t have experienced,” said Anthony Salcito, vice president of Worldwide Education at Microsoft. With global events coming up, schools organizing “transformed” science fests, we are soon going to witness and education scenario where Immersive Learning is ubiquitous. Ten-year-old Darian, from GEMS Education Modern Academy, says: “It is a nice experience; you can actually enter the world instead of the teacher just showing you something on the board and asking you to imagine [it]. With VR, you’ll be in the world before you [know it].”

by Dr. Sana Farid

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