ABU DHABI // Teachers must get up to speed with the new technology embraced by pupils if they are to successfully drive changes in education, the head of the Abu Dhabi Education Council said on Wednesday.
“The challenge for the education system to lead is based on the teacher,” Dr Ali Al Nuaimi told education and technology leaders gathered for the Bett Middle East Leadership Forum, in his first public address as Adec director general.
“If the teacher is able to accommodate new changes, the recent changes, and employ them properly this society will be good.”
Dr Al Nuaimi said the rapid emergence of smart technology had generated a “smart class” of people.
“The challenge in front of us now is to realise how to deploy this technology to promote our education system,” Dr Al Nuaimi said.
“The problem is the teacher, not the student. Our sons and daughters digest the technology very well and it’s a very important part of their life today.”
Although Adec has built modern schools, introduced Smart Boards, new computers and integrated more ICT into the curriculum, he said some public schoolteachers were still working under the “same old framework”.
“He is still introducing the new content by an improper way,” Dr Al Nuaimi said. “The student now is ahead of us. Before we’re talking about the generation gap, now we have the generation overlap. You may have your daughter and son in the third or fourth grade and they can understand technology better than you.”
Learning enhanced by digital technology is a crucial component of the New School Model, a curriculum that Adec introduced in 2010 in the emirate’s public schools to overhaul education.
Since implementing the NSM, Adec has reformed the high school curriculum to focus more on science, technology, engineering and maths (stem), and boosted its computer programming education.
“The knowledge-based economy transformation requires a good education system and to make a better education system requires a distinguished teacher who is able to deploy the technology properly,” Dr Al Nuaimi said. “This will make the relationship between the teacher and the student better and the student will find joy and happiness and will be able also to create and innovate and they will love to learn.”
Public schools run by the Ministry of Education in Dubai and the Northern Emirates were also undergoing massive technological reforms led by the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Smart Learning Programme.
Launched in 2012, the programme aims to enhance the ministry curriculum by equipping every public school pupil with a tablet computer, classrooms with Smart Boards and all schools with access to high-speed Wi-Fi by 2019.
To date, the programme has been introduced to all public school pupils in Grades 7, 8, 9 and 10 in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.
“It’s not about using the laptops and connecting to the network only, it’s about how you use the tools and the digital resources to better prepare the lessons, deliver the lessons and ensure that students are [producing] better learning outcomes,” said Mohammed Gheyath, director general of the programme.
Marwan Alsawaleh, assistant undersecretary at the MoE, said the ministry provided “intensive training” for teachers and staff to help them learn the new technology and adapt it to the curriculum. “The technology is only a tool – the book is a tool, the school building, the lab is a tool – so we need he or she as the leader to move forward,” Mr Alsawaleh said. “We need the dynamics now to understand how to motivate the students.
“We need them as a teacher, as a leader, to bring the world to the class.”
Mr Gheyath acknowledged that one of the key issues for teachers was the increased workload involved in learning and integrating the new technologies in the curriculum.
“All of them said there is an increased amount of work,” he said.
“However, those who have complained about the extra time and effort it takes also confirmed they would love to continue the work with the programme, because they find that it’s useful and it’s adding value to the way they are delivering their lessons.”
Source: uae news