The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) will launch an edtech testbed in the Education City of Qatar Foundation very soon.
“This year, in collaboration with a few select schools around Education City, WISE is planning to launch one of its most ambitious projects to date. Using technology available through the WISE Accelerator, we want to provide these local schools with access to new solutions, further the professional development of teachers and together, build a deeper understanding around edtech,” disclosed Victoria Basma, policy and partnerships officer, WISE.
“We also aim to create a learning ecosystem made of researchers, practitioners and education specialists who are capable of driving innovation in education forward both here in Qatar and within the global community,” she continued.
Edtech, a portmanteau of the phrase “education technology," is the combination of IT tools and educational practices aimed at facilitating and enhancing learning.
According to Basma, over the last six years, WISE, a global education initiative of Qatar Foundation, has managed an Accelerator programme that has worked closely with edtech entrepreneurs.
“Through this programme, we have gained valuable insight into the edtech landscape, the stakeholders in this space and the types of challenges they face. Communication between schools and edtech providers is inconsistent and they lack a shared vision for education. There is little understanding of what works in edtech and why many schools want to be part of leading innovation, but lack the culture of experimentation and testing that is required to do so. We also know that while there are a number of testbeds around the world, there remains a distinct lack of research that schools can use to make evidence based decisions around edtech,” explained Basma.
The official also noted that it is all the more important to engage parents in the teaching and learning processes especially when it comes to education technologies.
“Over the last couple of months, disrupted routines for both students and their families have created a great deal of anxiety over how students will be reintroduced to classrooms and what will be asked of parents to support them. Since the beginning of school closures earlier in the year, many parents have struggled to maintain their own motivation and wellbeing. While it’s important to work closely with parents over the coming weeks to ensure students are engaging with learning online, it’s also key to remember that there are limits to what we can achieve,” she said.
Basma felt that both teachers and parents should be realistic about their expectations about the students. “ Our expectations of one another should remain realistic and it will be the responsibility of both sides to clearly communicate those needs and capacities. In the future, the types of data collected by edtech will likely provide an opportunity for parents to observe the incremental progress made by students over a term and perhaps even empower them to act on that data, but for now the focus should be on the basics,” she maintained.
Basma also stated that during the Covid-19 pandemic, it became clear that traditional, linear structures of learning were not suitable for the blended learning approaches that schools are trying to implement.
“The greatest potential for technology now lies in its ability to help educators reimagine what modern education looks like. We could even use the digital space to reimagine higher education further, by delivering course modules based on subscription, which could help solve major issues around equity and access. There is endless potential in the way we can apply technology for the future of learning, but the key is to really understand from the bottom up what the needs are and leverage technology to meet them,” added the official.