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‘Mena classrooms lacking in digital tech’

DUBAI, June 23, 2016

While 97 per cent of educators in the Mena region feel that technology plays a big role in transforming education systems, only 32 per cent of them are implementing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and digital literacy as part of their curriculum, a report said.

The recent survey conducted by Microsoft polled educators from primary, through to secondary and tertiary institutions, as well as academic governing bodies across the region.

“With over half the survey respondents indicating a lack of budget and training to optimise the use of technology in the classroom, there is a definite need to improve integration of technology in classrooms in the region to meet the needs of the 21st century labour market,” said Ahmed Ameen Ashour, educational lead, Microsoft Gulf.

Other challenges identified by the respondents include:

•    A lack of training to use technology optimally, with 52 per cent saying they didn’t have adequate access to training.

•    A further 40 per cent indicated that there is a lack of integration of technology with the curriculum.

“As we bring technology into the classroom, we need to be careful that we use it to complement, rather than replace, traditional teaching practices, and ensure that it is approached holistically, Ashour said.

“For example, when we implemented the Office Student Advantage program, it was done hand-in-hand with teacher training, to incorporate it into their usual methods to enhance their lessons rather than replace them.”

More than half the educators highlighted that having access to mobile devices is an important tool when it comes to implementing technology in the classroom. Additionally, 70 per cent of educators believe that creating virtual classrooms and implementing e-learning solutions will further expand access and improve education offerings.

With key Microsoft products like Office 365 Education, designed specifically for educational purposes, teachers and students are able to create dynamic learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom.

The survey also showed that both parents and teachers are committed to creating digital classrooms, improving access to STEM and digital literacy programs in the region, with only 19 per cent of parents indicating that they do not support technology in classrooms.

“This points to the fact that the buy-in is there with families and educators alike willing to implement and adopt e-learning to transform classrooms,” said Ashour.

Microsoft continues to invest in education solutions through various partnerships with educators to bring technology into the classroom, and access to information and communications technology (ICT) that create immersive and inclusive experiences for students.

For example, there are thousands of education apps in the Windows marketplace, from early learning games to study aids and even apps that assist with classroom management. Another great tool for education is OneNote which helps teachers and students stay organised, share lessons, work together and even be more creative, said Ashour.

Other useful apps, tools and products include Skype, Sway, Minecraft Education Edition, Dynamics and even Xbox.

“We’re continuing our investment in education, using our resources and expertise to overcome barriers that educators face by working hand in hand with policy makers, setting teachers up for success through training programs and much more, to achieve a common goal of supporting the economic growth of Africa and the Middle East,” concluded Ashour. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Microsoft | education | stem |

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