INNOVATIONS IN HIGHER EDUCATION: EXPLAINING THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN VIRTUAL REALITY, AUGMENTED REALITY, AND MIXED REALITY

In an era where technological innovations are at its peak, the Education sector is facing many newer challenges than ever before.   The overall climate of education has been changing rapidly due to the advancement in the technologies streams like Virtual Reality(VR), Augmented Reality(AR) and Mixed Reality(MR). The Higher Education sector is also affected and demands newer approach which has led to the adoption of VR, AR & MR.

The teaching & learning of the subjects like Medicine, Engineering, Chemistry, Biology, Vocational Education, etc., are becoming more interesting & engaging and is in line with the latest Innovations in the Higher Education section through the adoption of VR, AR & MR solutions.

Individually each technology has its own merits & demerits. This blog explores all these 3 technological innovations being currently used in the Higher Education sector for its benefits & differences.

Virtual Reality in Higher Education

Virtual Reality takes you to the simulation-based simulation based  computer-generated world  which one can be real or imagined in the thoughts. It is titled as the Next Generation of Education, Learning, and Training by the Forbes magazine. This innovative technology has been creating an engaging environment for the students and helping in improving the learning power of the learners. VR offers endless opportunities for students who are participating in higher education or Vocational courses like Medicine, Military training, Automotive engineering.

Benefits of VR in Higher Education

With the reduction in the cost of VR gadgets and tools, the number of educational utilization of VR gadgets is estimated to expand drastically up to 15 million by 2025, according to a report from Goldman Sachs. Several colleges and universities have already signed up for this technology and using it to improve the level of higher education. This stream has been benefiting educational institutions in multiple ways such as:

  • a) Visual Learning
  • b) Training to Future Teachers
  • c) Designing Futures
  • d) Campus Visit  & Enrolments

Augmented Reality in Higher Education

Augmented reality is a part of the real technology that overlays digital information in the context of real-world elements. In AR technology, the real world is the main focus point, but it is enhanced with the number of innovative digital details and layering new strata of perception. This reality technology takes part of your reality and turns it into a better place by improvising with supplements. The common example of AR would be Pokemon Go game.

 In the education system, with the easy availability of Google Glass and augmented reality tools, a significant growth with a solid impact can be observed in the future. The prominent examples of the AR in the education sector would be the British Museum’s Ancient Egyptian trail or The Augsburg Display Cabinet experience at the John Paul Getty Museum.

Benefits of AR in Higher Education

Today, different edtech apps and tools are available that superimpose text, graphics, videos, and audio into the environment of a regular classroom. Exposure to AR tools at an early stage of education can improve the learning abilities of students. Apart from the gazillion of benefits of AR following can be observed in higher education.

  • a) Better Interaction
  • b) Better Development
  • c) Less Expensive

Mixed Reality in Higher Education

Mixed reality is a technology that brings the real world and the digital components together on one line. In this part of real science, you interact and manipulate both the physical and virtual terms of the ecosystem using the next level sensing and imaging technologies. MR allows you to observe and immerse yourself in your surroundings even when you are interacting with the virtual world using your hands and that’s without ever removing your headset. It is something where your half body is in the present world and half in the virtual world, and you have the ability to easily switch between both the contrasting worlds.

Mixed Reality can be also explained as something which offers all the best facets of virtual reality and augmented reality. Microsoft is the one company which is working towards exploring the potential of mixed reality with its Hololens headsets and a self-contained a holographic computer. This tool has been adopted by 60 universities. One partnership, with the University of Cambridge and the civil engineering and construction firm Trimble, aims to optimize the automated progress monitoring of remote structures. Team of surgeons from Imperial College London has been also using MR to examine patients before the performed surgery on them. Hololens has been truly revolutionising  the teaching methods.

Benefits of MR in Higher Education

Mixed Reality is not fully evolved like virtual reality or augmented reality. Microsoft is still working hard to make this technology impactful and beneficial for the users. However, the initial development of MR has showcased a positive impact on the higher education sector.

  • a) Improved Learning Process
  • b) 3D Models
  • c) Makes an Environment
  • d) Remote Study

 

Comparison Between Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality & Mixed Reality

Comparison VR AR MR
Meaning VR presents something which isn’t actually present with the help of computers. AR utilises your current environment and overlays with the digital information on it. Mixed Reality is a combination of sensors, super-advanced optics and next-generation computer power.
Experience To experience VR,  headsets are
mandatorily required to connect with a computer or gaming console.
AR experience can be gained by downloading AR apps on your smartphones as the camera will capture the real environment and automatically lay virtual objects on it. One can experience MR with holographic devices which can scan the real environment and place 3D objects on it that can be viewed from different angles.
Interaction With VR headset you get completely separated from Real-World. AR allows users to be real-world and superimposes virtual elements. Mixed reality uses the best of both VR and  AR  so interaction is similar to both,
Examples Creation of illusion with the help of VR headsets Snapchat lenses and the game Pokemon Go HoloLens
Tools HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard Smartphones, AR apps Microsoft’s HoloLens

Conclusion

All the three reality technology – virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies are part of the today’s rapid development due to their mountainous benefits in not only higher education sector, but plenty of other sectors as well. These technologies are the future of the education industry because they have the power to bring the perfect level of innovation into the colleges and universities which students and teachers have been looking forward to.

Panworld Education provides Quality VR and AR  solutions for both Higher Education and K-12 institutions and emphasizes on inspired learning and improved outcomes.

VIRTUAL REALITY (VR) TECHNOLOGY: CAN IT IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF K-12 EDUCATION?

The basic education sector has been adopting the Virtual Reality technology increasingly for imparting education and has so much in store to offer to the young generation that are being taught.  Children around the world are highly attracted and also seem to have access to smart gadgets that are becoming integral part of their lives. 

Virtual Reality (VR) is prominently making its way into the education system day by day.   Many studies conducted have recorded the positive impact of this technology on both the educators and the students.

VR has the potential to enhance the educator’s work and make sure that the high quality of education is given to the students. The learning curves for students have taken a completely new turn with the advancement of VR tools. Now, students aren’t simply learning, they are actually exploring and experiencing the new educational topics daily.

 There’s no confusion behind the fact that Virtual Reality (VR) tools can improve the quality of K-12 education, but to evolve the education pedagogy it’s important to change the traditional education models. The demand on workforce readiness and post-education expectations require the education system to adopt the change.  VR technology can be one of the technologies that can be implemented to bring the desirable change in the education which can bring the shift to the teachers along with the change in the learner’s learning methods.

Virtual Reality in Education

Benefits of Using High-Quality Virtual Reality (VR) Tools in K-12 Education

Virtual Reality (VR) allows communities to share their resources in an unprecedented manner. This technology gives the leverage of connecting with the different streams of education regardless of your geographic location, presence of expert teachers and high-quality learning resources. With the advancement of VR technology in classrooms, numerous tools have been developed which are helping schools in improving the standard of their education. The quality of the K-12 education industry has evolved highly with the technology trends and level of specialized programs in teaching has enhanced the outcomes of students and schools drastically. VR revolutionary tools have increased the quality of high school education in the following ways –

  • Visualizations of concepts that aren’t possible in the traditional classroom
  • Increased Students engagement
  • Elimination of the Language barrier
  • The quality of education in diversified fields have improved
  • Generates high level of interest
  • Remote specialized educational programs have opened better career opportunities
  • Enhanced language learning

VR apps allow users to visualize the concepts that were earlier part of their textbooks only. Below we have shared some of the VR tools that are helping to learn the different subjects virtually.

  • Google Expeditions: Join or lead an immersive trip somewhere around the world. Google expeditions VR app offers over 200 expeditions to choose from.
  • Public Speaking VR: The students who want to develop their public speaking skills, for them, this app is very helpful. With the photorealistic environment of the app, students can immerse themselves into a VR experience where they can prepare for job interviews or presentations.
  • In Mind VR: Shrink down to the micro level and take a journey through a brain in the grips of a mental disorder. As you travel, use your gaze to fire a beam of light that can alleviate the troubled neurons.
  • Sites In 3D: Explore the world’s best landmarks in a full panorama. Allows users to go up the Eiffel tower or visit tombs and palaces and other ancient places.
  • Boulevard: Students can now join art classes from anywhere, they don’t have to visit the best art museums to learn art anymore. With this app, students can interact with the famous artworks, can take a tour of six art museums and learn everything about art and all this only with the support of VR technology.
  • Apollo 11 VR: This VR app will take you to one of the most significant space expeditions. Students can use this VR technology to book a front seat in the documentary style VR theatre. This award-winning app will improve the possibilities of VR as an educational tool.
  • TiltBrush: For art students, this is a very graceful VR tool which let them create artistic 3D paintings. The painting is handheld with paintbrush feature which will create an awesome and inspiring creative painting for students.
Virtual-Reality-and-Education-2-1200x400
To view the high-quality improvement of virtual tools in the classrooms, it’s important to connect classrooms with suitable and functional VR tools. Virtual classrooms setup involves lots of different layers and support of tools. The perfect virtual classroom can be designed by professionals who know the importance of education and virtual reality technology, someone like Panworld Education.

In the prevailing trends, schools are shifting towards flexible learning environments. Such as, a classroom might be divided into the several groups of the students, and every group is doing different activities, but all the activities are planned and monitored by a teacher according to a single curriculum. VR technology completely fits in this modern learning environment as it can bring the needed technology portion into the picture.

The computer labs present in the schools are now connected with the VR tools to support an entire class simultaneously. This scenario has tremendous benefits and it is a progressive method of learning. However, the introduction of VR has been made in the classrooms, but it is still work under progress. The quality VR content is going to support this goal further because it will make the lessons interesting while allowing teachers to focus on students’ needs and address them with more personal methods. This VR revolution is great for the students and teachers and in improving the quality of K-12 Education.

An outlook on VR in Colleges & Universities

Virtual Reality, generally known as VR is an experience taking place within simulated and immersive environments.  It is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. Applications of VR can include entertainment (i.e., gaming) and educational purposes.

VR is a booming field of technology and has lifted the barrier between the reality and virtual world by challenging the confections of traditional user interfaces.

VR captures the basic senses of a person like hearing, touching, vision and in some advanced cases sense of smelling and control it with the help of a computer. Nowadays, virtual reality is gaining huge popularity in the medical, education, entertainment and other important sectors of the society. However, if we discover the area of higher education in the context of virtual reality, then plenty of impressive figures can be seen.

Statistics Showing Influence of VR in College & Universities

    • • According to studies present in UBTech Conference 2018, 350 university members have researched and analyzed the impact of VR in the higher education sector. In this mega-study it has been concluded that 28 percent of higher education institutions have adopted VR partially in their structure, on the contrary, 18 percent of institutions have fully deployed it.
    • • A new study conducted by University of Maryland researchers on the use of VR technology in the educational environment has presented that – “VR can help people in recalling the information in a better way”. This study has opened doors for numerous future opportunities in this technology area as well.
    • • The prosperous governments are encouraging their education system to adopt VR technology apps. As per an article published in the Gulf News, UAE students had started learning through Virtual Reality in 2016 under instructions of the Education Ministry.

How Colleges & Universities can Embrace Virtually Reality?

The different studies conducted regarding the deployment of VR in colleges and universities have presented positive feedback. Moreover, now with the easy ability of virtual and augmented reality gadgets availability at the cheaper rates has surged the market even more. It is estimated that by 2025, VR applications are expected to grow quickly in higher education.

VR is a gigantic field which has a humongous scope, one just needs the right vision and ideology to fully develop this technology. In the colleges and universities, VR has been already embraced with the open arms. This technology is so versatile that it can be used in multiple ways, however, in educational institutions, VR can be embraced to do following activities;

#1. VR Learning

Students can grasp the difficult science, healthcare, criminology, and other educational material very quickly with the help of visual presentations. This methodology has been embraced by numerous well-renowned universities all over the world. Such as at Eastern Michigan University professor built an AR sandbox using a Microsoft Xbox Kinect camera, digital data projector, computer, and simulation and visualization software to make the student understand the concepts of Earth science. Students can easily understand the magical concepts behind the formation of mountains, rivers, volcanoes, glaciers and other geographic fields with the help of visuals.

#2. VR Teaching

Apart from students, teachers can use this surreal technology to make their lessons more effective and clear. Educators can use VR technology in their classrooms in innovative ways to add significant value to their teachings. The number of teaching programs has been introduced in the past few years, in which teachers are trained to use VR tools in their classrooms. The VR gadgets like HTC Vive has been rapidly used in classrooms to provide a realistic learning experience to the students so that they can observe content in a better way.

#3. VR Career

The role of VR technology in colleges and universities can go beyond learning and teaching. The students can now pursue their career in this growing industry as well. It is a frequently growing industry and it is still under development, so the job generation in this sector is currently high. Plus, according to a report published in CNBC indicates that F500 companies like Walmart, UPS, and Boeing, are adopting VR to improve their retention rates and productivity numbers. These companies are providing virtual reality training to their employees and if in this you are already trained in it, then you will definitely get red carpet welcome by all of these F500 companies.

#4. VR Research

Virtual reality and augmented reality are currently developing technologies. In their context, various research programs have been hosted daily by educational institutions to understand the influence and impact of this technology in the education industry. To participate in the research programs, several institutions have accepted high education students to undergo the research process. In 2015, the Savannah College of Art and Design sent Google Cardboard headsets to 30,000 accepted students to give them the opportunity to explore campus in Atlanta and Savannah. Similar kind of researches has been conducted by global universities on a daily basis to unfold different segments of this booming technology.

VR in Office

Presence of Virtual Reality in Colleges & Universities:

We have observed how VR technology can be embraced by educational institutions and how different institutions are already undergoing the process of VR revolution. However, these are just mainstream areas where VR can be further developed. When we evaluate the presence of this visual technology in the educational system, then it would be an understatement to say that VR is still Developing. That’s because, in the higher education sector, a fragment of virtual reality can be seen in multiple ways, such as;

Field Trips:

This is the most common trait of the VR application that has been adopted by educational institutions. With the help of visual field trips, they are providing a realistic learning experience to their students. The tools like Google Expedition enables students to study planets and parts of history by actually experiencing it. This tool is completely free and can be downloaded on any smart gadget to create a visual illusion in the classrooms.

Learning Languages:

It is well known that by getting the full immersion of a language, it’s easier to learn that language. When students can listen to and speak the language they are learning all day, then they can effortlessly become fluent in that language. Now, to learn French, not every one of us can hop on the plane to France and spend a few months there. But, with the virtual reality tricks, you can transport your mind to France while sitting in your home or classroom and experience the essence of real French language and become flawless in it without spending extra money.

Theorems:

Theorems are something which can better be understood with the help of visual training. There are different kind of theories which can be easily learned with the help of visuals and audios. The common Pythagoras theorem can be learned through the VR headsets and apps pretty easily. Moreover, Philosophical theories can be easily evaluated by dreaming and walking through the actual content. Art students are learning Shakespeare’s plays by feeling them.

Designing & Architecture:

Not, only for understanding complicated mathematics and scientific concepts, but VR has been used to give creative vision to the students as well. Today, complexed architecture structures and designs are being developed with the advancement of VR technology. The VR headsets enable architects to create 3D models and bring life to the 3D models to preview the plan in the real light before executing it.

Special Education:

The visual graphics have helped special students in developing their imagination and aid them in learning academic skills easily. It is also noted by some teachers that the structured lessons given with meditative VR apps such as exploring planets and stars have a positive impact on the specialty challenged students and has calming effects on the students suffering from autism.

Distance Learning:

The virtual reality has helped people who can’t physically visit the colleges or universities to pursue their professional degrees. With the advancement of VR technology in the education sector, the distance learning programs have been designed by universities. Using VR apps and gadgets students can virtually visit their classrooms and learn from the professionals without physically attending lectures. Some institutions have also developed VR chat rooms where students with their VR headsets can interact with the lecturers.

Campus Visits:

When you got admission in the new college and universities far away from your home, then you can take advantage of VR campus visits and check your campus without actually visiting it. Moreover, students can now check out different university campuses before taking admission in the institutions. The campus visits allow you to see what courses and extra curriculum activities are offered by the institutions.

Virtual Reality for Education2

The Future:

If we take a further leap ahead and try to preview the future of the VR technology, then the road ahead is quite bright for this technology. The issues of scale, accessibility, and performance of VR has been rapidly improved on a regular basis. VR will eventually take a permanent place in our eye wears, laptops, smartphones, and other gadgets. Soon technology won’t be part of a gadget, it will be embedded into our lifestyle, especially educational institutions will be at the receiving end of this technology.

In the coming age of VR, meeting, learning, interacting and working will revolve around the virtual and mixed reality environments. However, some traditional thinkers are worried about the role of virtual reality in the education sector and they have a fear that students will become more dependent on technology and will sacrifice their own imagination.

Now, this is just a belief, but there’s no doubt that if you want to enjoy the great power offered by Virtual Reality, then you have to work smartly. You need to learn the concepts of this technology to the core before incorporating it in your life or learning methods. To control and properly use the VR tools in the education sector, you need the guidance of an educational solution providers like Designmate India Pvt Ltd (https://www.designmate.com),  Panworld Education (http://www.panworldeducation.com) and many more companies in the world.

In nutshell, virtual reality is here to stay and conquer the educational industry, so being a part of this technology and adopting to the betterment might be worth considering.

Tomatis Method’s Custom Learning Solutions Improving Lives of Children with Special Needs

Special educational needs children are those who have learning difficulties or disabilities or are under regular school age, which makes it harder for them to learn or access mainstream education. However, it also refers to gifted children requiring special individual learning program to develop their skills and talents. The responsibility for such children is shifting from special schools to mainstream schools and from special teachers to mainstream teachers. This trend is strongly promoted by UNESCO worldwide.

Special Educational Needs Children and Personalized Learning Environment

Special Educational Needs Children and Personalized Learning Environment
Personalized learning environment trends have created the basis for today’s knowledge acquisition process especially for students with special education needs. Teachers and therapists struggle with focusing on each student individually. Mainstream teachers particularly require additional training and tools to work with children with special educational needs as well as to maximize learning outcomes for all pupils. Personalized learning trends imply the need for education diagnostic tools as well as new teaching methods and materials designed on the assumption that every child is unique.

The challenges of inclusive education for children with special education needs can be met by the highly acclaimed custom learning solution – The Tomatis Method. It is an innovative system for training auditory attention and improving learning skills. Auditory attention is the ability to focus on specific sounds and process them to extract their meaning. It is closely linked with attention span, language skills, learning difficulties, psychomotor skills, communication skills, and even emotional development. Auditory attention is used in the therapy of cognitive and perceptual-motor functions for children with various learning difficulties and disabilities along the likes of hearing impairments, speech and language disorders, speech fluency disorders, intellectual delays, dyslexia. The Tomatis custom learning solution is also proven to accelerate the learning of foreign languages.

Panworld Education’s aim is to ensure equitable educational opportunities to all students. No child should get left behind when it comes to learning and understanding which is why we offer highly effective modules that enable mastery of core concepts and skills. This outstanding content spans from Kindergarten through High School and includes the Tomatis custom learning solution to help students with learning disabilities.

What Is The Tomatis Method?

What Is The Tomatis Method
As mentioned earlier, the Tomatis method is an innovative custom learning solution for auditory attention training. This proven and effective technique was developed by Professor Alfred Tomatis. Tomatis was a French Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT) specialist who devoted a considerable part of his career to studying the relationship between the ear and the voice, and by extension between listening and communication.

During his work, he defined three Tomatis laws:

  1. The voice contains only what the ear can hear.
  2. If you modify the hearing, the voice is immediately and unconsciously modified.
  3. It is possible to transform phonation permanently by sustaining auditory stimulation for a specific amount of given time.

The Tomatis custom learning solution uses the electronic ear, a device originally developed by Alfred Tomatis. This device provides filtered, gated and timed sound stimulation via headphones and the subject’s cranial bone conductors. This custom learning solution includes advanced digital technology that uses the latest hardware solutions such as 4-bit music tracks and special ready-made programs for schools/kindergartens. Further, it has a user-friendly software interface. The Tomatis method is a great custom learning solution because it allows diagnosis and therapy on one device, has ready-made training programs prepared by experts, boasts of advanced digital technology, and allows therapy to be continued at home on an apple device.

The trainers for this custom learning solution include Jozef Vervoort, the head of the training company Mozart-Brain-Lab. Vervoort was personally assigned by Professor Tomatis himself to teach and supervise the Audio-Psycho-Phonology. Magdalena Raciniewska is another trainer for the Tomatis custom learning solution. She has been a Product Manager in Special Education Need Department for 5 years and has been conducting Auditory Attention product trainings in Poland for 3 years.

Impact of the Tomatis Method

Impact of the Tomatis Method
Dr. John Gerritsen prepared a review of 35 studies that were published on the impact of the Tomatis Method of auditory stimulation in 2010. This review deduced that a variety of learning disabilities are effectively treated by the Tomatis Method. Several small-scale research projects on autism were reported, showing that about 60% of the autistic children benefit from the Tomatis intervention. One of these shows that the Tomatis intervention reduces the time to obtain correct pronunciations by 50 percent. Other studies show positive effects on stuttering, retardation and on a range of psychological disorders. The review includes other interesting findings as well.

One of the characteristics of Tomatis auditory stimulation is that it opens the ear, especially to high-frequency sounds. Such sounds have an energizing effect, giving people the motivation they need to deal with the learning difficulties and disabilities they face. With the help of this custom learning solution, more and more special educational needs children are being integrated into the mainstream classrooms. A positive impact can be seen in the educational and soft skills of children who’ve used this method, compared with children who have not.

The Necessity of Providing Education to Displaced Children and Refugees

All over the world there has been an increase in the number of people displaced per day. It has gone from 11,000 a day in 2010 to 34,560 in 2015. Children made up 51% of the displaced population according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The impact of conflict and displacement is harsh for everyone involved but even harsher on children. For them, schools offer a sense of normalcy, a safe haven from the chaos and an opportunity to learn. Education provides a sense stability and hope. Education solutions and reforms are needed in this space to improve the current situation.

Education is the building block of a peaceful society, long term stability, and economic growth. Quality education equips people with knowledge and skills. It enables them to increase their income and expand opportunities for employment. In post-conflict reconstruction, education builds peace, social cohesion and facilitates economic recovery and sustainable development. Educating refugee and displaced children is the most cost-effective way to achieve stability and long-term development in a conflict zone. Currently, the largest humanitarian crisis is in Syria where over 13.5 million people risk a future of exile and alienation while suffering discrimination and exploitation. This needs to be prevented to the best of the humanitarian community’s ability. 4.9 million Syrians have fled the country since 2011, this number increases on the daily.

Challenges to Displaced Children and Refugees

Challenges to Displaced Children and Refugees
In the face of conflict, it is easy for youngsters to lose hope. They simply can’t visualize a better future. They constantly doubt if they will ever get fair opportunities and be able to change their outcomes. This leaves them at an increased risk for recruitment as child soldiers, criminal activity, forced labor, and exploitation. It’s not just poverty and unemployment that turn them towards a life of crime; it’s also the sense of injustice and exclusion. Creation of new kinds of partnerships between governments focused on empowering children and youth while opening up access to education and employment are the need of the hour. Such partnerships will benefit young refugees as well as the communities hosting them, which are often in already fragile regions.

Being displaced or becoming refugees makes children face tremendous challenges in completing their education. Youth refugees that were displaced while pursuing higher education have little to no opportunities to complete their education. For primary and secondary education, there are multiple schools run by organizations like United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the UNHCR or Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE). These schools do their very best to provide good education, but their resources are stretched to a breaking point.

Refugee schools may have one educator per 100-150 students. It’s impossible to focus on that many people at once. The teachers may not even be fully trained to be teaching in a refugee school. Due to the pressure on capacity, the schools run double or sometimes even triple shifts to accommodate more people. The pressure on capacity pushes schools for refugees to place age-based barriers too. This means if a child’s education is temporarily disrupted, it may not be possible for them to go back and complete it. If these children are able to find a vocational training course, they still have hope otherwise, their options become limited to odd jobs. Digitized education solutions can enable children to find vocational training of their liking if they’re made aware of such an option.

Mainstream schools are unable to accommodate children from another country’s learning system immediately as they possess different languages and abilities. Shifting to a new curriculum, in particular, is very stressful for these young minds. Refugees may even have to move from country to country, making getting educated an even bigger challenge. Also, there is often a lack of clarity around certification when birth certificates and written records of previous enrollment are required by schools, and whether their past education will be recognized by resettling governments. There are no digital educational solutions in place to systematically share information and track enrollment, progress, and certification between countries and communities, such an educational solution needs to be implemented.

Displaced families often do not have money for school fees or other costs including clothes and shoes. Since most displaced people and refugees do not have the permission to work legally, they find odd, low-paid jobs to help make ends meet for their family. This leads to children struggling to juggle school with work.

Improving Education for Displaced Children and Refugees

Improving Education for Displaced Children and Refugees
Education solutions help promote high quality and protective education for refugee and displaced children. Education at all levels such as early childhood care and education, primary and secondary education and even adult education, which includes vocational courses, should ideally be available to refugees and displaced children.

New standards to measure learning outcomes and competency need to be developed as an alternative to transcripts. A single test that universities would recognize as demonstrating that a student deserves a chance to continue their studies can be considered. If they’ve outgrown the age they where they could go back to school, vocational training may be the best option. More education solutions like these are already being conducted by CARE to support refugees to become certified in trades.

It is important to use a conflict-sensitive lens when assessing the content and structure of education for refugees. If schools for Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and elsewhere could teach the same Syrian curriculum the kids were learning at home, it would give them some stability to their otherwise distraught lives and minimize the disruption caused by changing countries. A blended education model, with quality online content supporting local teaching can be the solution moving forward also. The other alternative is a strategic plan to integrate them into national education systems since most refugees are displaced for two decades. However, all of these efforts require funding.

Schools and universities need adequate funding to be able to provide classrooms and teachers necessary for all refugee children to have a quality education. Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education and ex British Prime Minister, has described funding education in the world’s poorest countries as “the civil rights struggle of our generation”. Lack of education funding is a ticking time bomb that could trigger new protests among a generation frustrated by a lack of life chances.

Schools for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: A Success Story

Schools for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
In Lebanon, the World Bank is working with the government to expand schooling for Syrian refugee children. From providing textbooks, funds for school furniture and repairs to financing school field trips and sports equipment, the coordination in Lebanon is a clear success story. Along with other initiatives, this collaboration has enabled the Lebanese Ministry of Education to increase the number of Syrian refugees enrolled in public education from 14,000 in 2011 to 123,000 in 2015.

The Lebanese government is aiming to give schooling to 500,000 children who have fled the civil war in Syria. They’re currently attempting to raise funds to make this aspiration a reality. The humanitarian community must commit to tackling the root causes of conflict head-on and empowering the children and youth. First and foremost, we need investment in teacher training to ensure that children receive quality education since children can prepare for a better future only through education.

Improving Quality Of Education: Reforms Needed In Primary School Curriculum In The MENA Region

There is a problem with education in the MENA region. It seems that the students graduating from the schools actually exhibit with less than adequate education. They are also severely lacking in practical and marketable skills, making them highly unsuitable for employment. The governments are now realizing the need for not just reforms in the primary school curriculum but in the entire education system. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is another name for the Arab World. Because of the ambiguous definition of the region, there is no standardized list of countries that come under this label. There are around 20 countries that are commonly included, along with another 17 which may or may not be included, depending on the organization listing them.

The emphasis on educational reforms began a few decades ago, when the Arab World started seeing rapid growth because of oil. What they didn’t foresee was exactly how rapid that growth would be. As a result, these nations were grossly under-prepared for the educational requirements of the youth. This was further exacerbated by the sheer number of young people. The MENA region is unusual in its demographics, with around 60% of its population being under the age of 30. This has placed an unusual amount of stress on the existing infrastructure. As a result, a large percentage of the youth either does not opt for secondary education or contributes to the high dropout and unemployment rates in the region.

The unemployment rates may also be a direct result of a distinct lack of trained personnel in the professional arenas that need them most. In other words, the needs of the labor market of the region are not being met by the education sector. This has resulted in most of these jobs going to expatriates.

The Issues Inherent In the Primary School Curriculum and System

The Issues Inherent In the Primary School Curriculum and System
Even though primary education enrollment is quite high, and the gender disparity has been more or less eliminated, there seems to be something going horribly wrong. In order to address the issue, it is important to find out the root cause. Since the issues start right after the primary school-level education, it becomes necessary to see what reforms the primary school curriculum requires.

A Modern Curriculum That Is Relevant To The Times

A Modern Curriculum That Is Relevant To The Times
The curricula in most schools in the MENA region was set decades ago and has not been updated. The content that is being taught is outdated and rote memorization is rewarded. The area needs a revamp of the curriculum to encourage analytical and reasoning skills. Nearly two-thirds of the students who complete secondary education graduate in humanities or the social sciences. This seems to imply that Science and Mathematics education at primary level is either inadequate or not being taught properly. There needs to be a change in the primary school curriculum to focus more on science and mathematics.

Panworld Education has some excellent digital learning products for mathematics and science. Young Digital Planet, in particular, is great for teaching the science and mathematics lessons suitable for the primary school curriculum. The content can be customized based on specific requirements but the curriculum needs to be decided by the governments. The other issue that arises because of poor standards of math and science education is the fact that not enough students are taking up science and technology at the tertiary levels. This has led to a dearth of professionals in this area.

Since there is a need for such professionals in the job market, the vacancies are being filled by expatriates. It is ironic that all these jobs are going to people who are specially brought in while the unemployment rates are rising for the youth in these countries. The education of every child starts at the primary level. If there is a lack of qualified graduates at both the secondary and tertiary level, then it is the primary school curriculum that requires improvement. Students who enter the secondary education phase with a solid foundation of mathematics and science will be likelier to perform better and pursue the subjects at the tertiary level.

Improvement in Teaching Quality and Teachers

Improvement in Teaching Quality and Teachers
The MENA region has a high percentage of its population under the age of 24. The numbers are only going to rise in the future. Because of inadequate planning, there is a severe shortage of not only schools but also high-quality teachers. Most of the teachers in the region are not qualified enough or not motivated enough. Additionally, there are not enough teachers for the number of students. A major reform that is needed in addition to the change in primary school curriculum is better teacher training.

Creating a pool of instructors who are qualified and competent is necessary, especially for schools in rural areas. These are the ones who suffer most from lack of teachers, mainly because it is more difficult to find qualified staff here. Teachers specializing in the primary school curriculum are most important and those well-versed in science and mathematics even more so. Professional training can be assisted with digital teaching aids like online courses and mobile-friendly platforms to view content. Panworld Education specializes in delivery platforms and bespoke training solutions.

We are also intrinsically involved with the various governments in helping implement policies. This includes any tools and training aids for teachers’ workshops or training programs that they might initiate.

Better Infrastructure and Resources for Schools

Better Infrastructure and Resources for Schools
As mentioned earlier, schools in the MENA region are insufficient for the number of school-aged children. If this situation is not corrected, there will be a serious shortage of educational institutions by 2020. When planning educational policies, the governments need to allocate funds for opening more schools. In addition, they also need to ensure that each school, new or existing, has adequate resources. These resources include qualified teachers, as well as classroom equipment, teaching aids, and learning material. For better management of schools, there are several School Management Systems available in the market. Panworld Education also provides Learning Management Systems, Content Management Systems, Virtual Learning Environments, Mobile Platforms, and Digital Library Platforms. These tools can help governments and schools manage the running of the institutions as well as the content that is being taught. Infrastructure and resources in conjunction with improved secondary and primary school curriculum is essential for a better educated youth.

An Improved System of Assessment and Accountability for Schools

An Improved System of Assessment and Accountability for Schools
As of today, there is virtually no system of measuring how successful, or unsuccessful, a school is at educating. This may be the primary reason why schools can get away with under-performing and why teachers lack the motivation to teach. As part of the reforms needed in the primary school curriculum, there needs to be an inherent system that measures the efficacy of a school. There need to be incentives for performing well, and accountability for the lack thereof. Furthermore, these schools need more involvement from parents.

Fixing the primary school curriculum may not be the only reform required to improve the education scenario in the MENA region. However, as a first step, it is the most important of them all. A simple change in the way primary education is managed will set off a chain reaction that will affect every stage of schooling for the students.

Higher Education Reforms to Make Students More Employable

Equipping students with the requirements of starting and maintaining a career is one of the key responsibilities of higher education institutions. At present, employers report strong demand for graduate talent but continue to have concerns about the skills and job readiness of those in the graduate labor pool. The education-employment gap is growing. Significant numbers of graduates are even going into non-graduate jobs after failing to find jobs in their fields. This needs to change particularly in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. With the ongoing employment crisis in the region, it is more crucial than ever that young people be prepared to find jobs.

Why Does Higher Education Need To Be Reformed?

Why Does Higher Education Need To Be Reformed
Currently, universities are not being used to their full potential. The curriculum is not always up-to-date, not enough young people go to university after finishing school and not enough adults have attended university. They also lack management tools and funding to match their ambitions. The MENA region can work towards bridging the gap between education and employment with increased partnership between universities and regional employers for the purpose of creating and adapting knowledge to the current world scenario. Conditions for universities can be improved only by improving the underlying quality of education using digital solutions like higher education software. A fundamental shift from traditional rote-repetition learning to one that promotes problem-solving and application of knowledge is required to help ease the path to gainful employment for the youth of tomorrow.

How Digitization Can Bridge the Education-Employment Gap

How Digitization Can Bridge the Education-Employment Gap
Technology can have a huge impact in the education sector. Countries in the MENA region have invested in equipping schools and universities with computers, labs, networks, and software to ensure that students have hands-on opportunities to master their skills. Panworld Education gives the option to universities to incorporate blended education models into their curriculum, mixing printed textbooks and reference materials with digitalized teaching tools that include higher education software by LexisNexis, Britannica, and many other partners. This employment-education gap challenge is not only in technical education or the curriculum but rather in the development of soft skills, such as management and communication skills. The use of digital learning tools and technology like higher education software into the university system significantly help the youth acquire the skills required by their employers.

Policymakers need to consider alternative methods of educational development to address the concerns of employers regarding graduates not being fully prepared for working life upon graduation. Reforms in higher education are required on multiple fronts including curricular refurbishment and increased focus on student-centered learning with flexible learning paths and recognition of informal learning. Furthermore, granting greater autonomy to universities so that they can create strategic partnerships with enterprises can also be considered. Policy makers need to devise funding strategies to sustain quality and meet rising demand for quality higher education with an increased emphasis on the digitization of education. It is also crucial to improve the standards of teaching. Teaching of soft-skills through tie-ins with professional bodies to improve graduate job-readiness also needs to be included. While these reforms are implemented, entrepreneurial activity and lifelong learning should be encouraged as an ongoing response to the persistent problem of jobless youth in the region.

Higher Education Software That Are Changing the Game

Higher Education Software That Are Changing the Game
Panworld Education provides universities with higher education software like LexisNexis Academic, an innovative tool for academic research. Tailored specially for the academic market, it allows fast access to thousands of credible sources. Since students and researchers spend valuable time and energy gathering information, they should make the most of their time by having access to such a higher education software program.

LexisNexis Academic is one of the best higher education software in the market. Using this tool, the students and the faculty can monitor current events by following continuously updated wire services and the most current editions of publications from around the world. They can also delve into primary or secondary legal sources to perform legal research. LexisNexis also has other handy higher education software, the LexisNexis NewsDesk. It is a media monitoring and analytics solution which is ideal for university students.

Panworld Education also has Britannica Digital as a partner, which has three extremely resourceful higher education software programs – the Britannica Academic which is a comprehensive research tool, the Britannica ImageQuest which is an image library specially designed for students and Britannica E-Books. These higher education software provide access to high-quality comprehensive information. The rich combination of the insightful Encyclopedia Britannica with Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, magazines and periodicals, and many other research tools provides the variety of reliable sources that students need to consult when conducting thorough research all from one resource. It is written by Nobel laureates, historians, curators, professors, and other notable experts. The content in these higher education software programs are from trusted resources with balanced, global perspectives and insights that users will not find anywhere else. Britannica Academic is integrated with Britannica ImageQuest, which offers a streamlined ability to explore millions of related images right from the search results page.

Employers also need to invest into providing training for their employees to bridge the education-employment gap in the short term. Training software can be extremely useful for this. Panworld Education has partnered with VitalSource, a training software program for employees which increases accountability and competency through engaging interactive digital content. It helps employers manage and deliver secure content with measurable engagement result while increasing compliance and reducing the costs associated with print-based training content.

Bridging the Education-Employment Gap Needs To Be a Joint Effort

Bridging the Education-Employment Gap Needs To Be a Joint Effort
Bridging the education-employment gap in MENA must be a collaborative effort involving private sector partners, companies and the governments. It is time for the region to revamp the way it teaches and learns by adopting a new system that takes personal needs and sudden developments into account. Anyone can and should apply to continue a lifelong journey of learning based on the need of their employers. Meanwhile, newer methods of learning and education need to be incorporated into the higher learning institutes’ curriculums. This can be done using higher education software programs that prepare students for modern careers by helping them acquire skills such as problem-solving, familiarity with emerging technologies, and self-motivation.

Developments in Digital Learning That Are Making Equal Education Opportunities A Reality

As advanced as we may be, equal education opportunities is something we as a global entity still haven’t achieved. It is true that every government in the world has invested in education to some extent. However, there are road blocks that prevent education from being within the reach of all. The good news is that developments in digital learning are helping make equal education opportunities a reality to some extent.

Before these developments in digital learning came about, education was not an equal opportunity game at all. Traditionally, education was the purview of the elite. Only the rich and privileged had access, and at an earlier point in time, the right, to education. While government policies are now making it accessible to all, economics still plays a part in the ability to get that education.

Certain countries have made primary education free, but the quality of education might not be up to the mark. Even if it is, secondary and higher education might cost more than the economically backward classes can afford. As the competition in the professional world increases, professional courses become extremely expensive. Since real estate is at a premium, educational institutes are limited by space. A lack of teaching staff means that either teachers deal with more students than they can cope with or the number of students enrolling is limited. Developments in online learning may help solve this problem.

Money is not the only issue making education a distant dream for some. Class and gender divides are still present in communities. Girls are either not educated at all or are allowed only primary education in some societies. The reason for gender inequality in education is two-fold. Firstly, if a girl is to be married off, then the perception is that she does not need to be educated. Why spend money on expensive education for her? Secondly, the lack of basic amenities makes it difficult for girls to spend the day in school. There is also the element of gender segregation where parents don’t feel comfortable with sending their daughters to a school where boys and girls intermingle.

Early marriages also hold back young girls from education since they’re too busy taking care of their children or families to have time for studies. This is an issue that young men don’t have to face. This is where developments in digital learning might be able to help. Class may be a determining factor in societies where a societal class system prevails. The dominant class would not allow those they consider lesser than them to be educated in the same classroom or even the same school as them.

Another issue that has nothing to do with gender, class, or finances is the fact that certain students have special requirements. Students with learning or physical disabilities might find themselves unable to cope with the way traditional education works. Even without any disabilities, some students might not find it easy to keep up with the rest of the class without extra help. The good news is that as the levels of education increase, some of the more regressive ideas are losing ground. However, the practical issues still stand. These are being alleviated to a great extent by the developments in digital education.

How Does Digital Education Help In Solving the Equal Education Issues?

How Does Digital Education Help In Solving the Equal Education Issues
Digital education or digital learning is a method of teaching where the mode of instruction is not limited to the printed textbook. As the name suggests, digital media and online classes are supplemented with traditional teaching methods. Instead of just reading a book, interactive digital media is used to explain and engage students. Developments in digital learning technology mean that some of the classes may be held online as well. There are several advantages this mode of blended learning offers, both to teachers, students, as well as school management. But how do developments in digital learning help solving the equal education issue? Here are some of the ways in which it does it.

Digital Learning Can Be Cheaper Than Traditional Learning

Digital Learning Can Be Cheaper Than Traditional Learning
While the infrastructure requirements might be costlier than conventional teaching requirements, digital learning can prove to be cheaper in the long run. Firstly, developments in blended learning have made it unnecessary for all classes to be held in the conventional school classroom. Certain lessons can be taught through virtual online classrooms, leaving the students free to go over the lesson without supervision. This frees up valuable real estate for the school.

Secondly, since most of the learning is being conducted by students on their digital devices, teachers are free to work on students who may need extra help. Even with an evenly paced class in terms of learning, the teacher is now equipped to deal with more students. These developments in interactive learning technologies means the institution can keep the quality of education up to standard without having to increase manpower.

Thirdly, with developments in blended learning making strides, online education is becoming a reality. Online learning is conducted completely on an online platform. Classes and lectures are held online and course material is uploaded on to the institute’s server. This way, there is absolutely no need for a school or college campus.

All these savings can be transferred on to the students, making education within the reach of everyone. Online education especially would mean doing away with the cost of the premises, and one teacher teaching a huge online class. This would make the cost of education nominal and affordable for everyone.

Developments in Digital Learning Mean Knowledge Is Accessible Everywhere

Developments in Digital Learning Mean Knowledge Is Accessible Everywhere
As we see developments in digital learning, we notice a rise in the quality of digital content available. This content is becoming more interactive, intuitive, and engaging. At this point, all we need is an AI teacher and the digital classrooms would no longer need a human to teach! While that is not the case yet, it does mean that with digital technology, all you need is a compatible device, power, and an internet connection. As long as you have these, a student can ‘attend’ classes from anywhere. A teacher could hold a virtual class and simultaneously teach hundreds of children in different locations.

This mode of education has been used by universities to offer courses to students flung all over the globe. The University of Arizona, for example, offers online courses that students in the Middle East can enrol for without having to leave their country. With a dearth of colleges and universities in the region in the past, this has become a very popular choice for young people looking for higher education.

Special Needs Are Being Taken Care Of By Developments in Digital Learning

Special Needs Are Being Taken Care Of By Developments in Digital Learning
Students with special needs might find it difficult to find schools with the requisite infrastructure designed to deal with their needs. Digital learning solutions on the other hand come equipped with all kinds of special education technologies. Young Digital Planet, for example, offers a module especially for children with special needs. Digital Enhancer 4 Special Educational Needs is a module based on the Tomatis Method of instruction. It is designed for students with hearing and speech disabilities. In addition to this, there are developments in digital learning technologies that are specifically designed for learning disabilities and special needs. Even for students without any special needs, the sheer variety of methods in which a lesson is explained means that students who might have needed extra attention can now understand and learn at their own pace.

Education Quality Can Be Made Standardise

Education Quality Can Be Made Standardise
In most cases, even if the syllabus has been prescribed, the quality of education can only be as good as the teacher. This may be alleviated to a certain extent with the resources the school can provide, but how a teacher teaches still remains all-important. With developments in digital learning making it possible for educators to create their own content, it will soon be possible to have standardized lessons across the board. The lessons would be taught using these digital lessons. This would mean that while a good teacher would still give better results, students will not have to suffer with poorly understood lessons with a bad one.

Lessons Can Be Taken As and When Students Want

Lessons Can Be Taken As and When Students Want
While students may still need to attend school and classes, the digital lessons can be accessed at any time. Since all the media and explanations come packed in a module, the student can go through them whenever and wherever. This gives the student an immense amount of flexibility both in studying time as well as studying methodology. It, further, gives students the freedom to go through lessons at their own pace and at their own time. These are the developments in digital learning that make it easier for teenage mothers, child brides, students with learning disabilities, and slow learners to keep up with their studies.

Education is the only way of development for any society. Equal education opportunities are the right of every person. These developments in digital learning seem to be a step in the right direction in safeguarding this right.

Building entrepreneurial skills into school curriculums

Youth unemployment is among the most pressing challenges facing the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region today which makes youth entrepreneurship significant in the region. Entrepreneurship is a proven and powerful tool for creating economic opportunities, generating wealth, and empowering citizens.

Entrepreneurship’s Positive Impact on the Youth Unemployment Crisis

If young people are unable to find jobs, they should have the ability to create their own and ideally even generate jobs for others. Newer methods of learning and education need to be incorporated into the school curriculums, starting right from elementary school. The current scenario requires people with entrepreneurial skills including problem-solving skills, familiarity with emerging technologies, and self-motivation to emerge from the schooling systems.

Even in a conflict-ridden zone, entrepreneurship gives people the opportunity to create their own companies so that they can take ownership of their economic futures. Thus, creating an ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs and startups in MENA is vital. There are examples of nations that are already succeeding in this regard. Lebanon and Jordan are entrepreneur havens. They’ve acknowledged the importance of cultivating entrepreneurship and have, thus, enabled startup communities to grow substantially in recent years.

Combined, they run over 50 initiatives that encourage entrepreneurial activity in the MENA region out of about 150 in total. Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia have also made strong efforts to launch entrepreneurship initiatives in their countries. These initiatives include technology incubators, NGOs aimed at developing entrepreneurship, networking associations for aspiring entrepreneurs, and university programs dedicated to entrepreneurship.

International Labor Organization and the Arab League have created training, research and other programs to support entrepreneurship in the region with emphasis on entrepreneurial skills in elementary school curriculums. Universities in the region have also entered this space, with several creating on-campus incubators and others teaching entrepreneurship courses to students. Even local corporations have started with programs supporting youth entrepreneurs. NGOs like INJAZ are guiding aspiring entrepreneurs through the business creation process.

The key to accelerating job creation in the MENA region is cultivating an entrepreneurial environment. Not only do startups employ their owners, but the spillover benefits for the larger economy are significant. These include multiple sources of innovation, increased competition, efficiency and productivity along with economic flexibility. Once start-ups mature into small and medium-sized enterprises, they go on become significant contributors to employment and gross domestic product.

Bringing Entrepreneurship to the Classroom

Bringing Entrepreneurship to the Classroom
Everyone should learn entrepreneurial principles not only in high school and university but even in elementary and secondary schools. The entrepreneurial spirit often arises at an early age and is highly influenced by the education system, which can guide entrepreneurs and harness their innovation. It is something that needs to be embedded in the culture. But this is not happening in the MENA region today.

Governments in the regions are missing out on a precious opportunity to promote and shape the next generation of entrepreneurs in their educational prime by not incorporating entrepreneurial principles in elementary school curriculums.  Schools can teach young people about entrepreneurship and help build a startup culture. Ministries of education should be encouraging school curriculums to include entrepreneurship. The Employment for Education programs in Jordan and Egypt are inspiring examples of this.

At the elementary school level, the first step is to educate teachers through seminars since many of them are not familiar with entrepreneurship. For students, the elementary schools may establish ‘career days’ to expand their career horizons while including information about entrepreneurship specifically. Elementary school educators can creatively reinforce these lessons by creating contests in which students present business plans to a panel of experts and successful entrepreneurs. These types of inter-school events can act as great motivators.

School curriculums’ increased emphasis on entrepreneurship will encourage innovative thinking, an ability to question the status quo of how things are done, thinking outside of societal constraints, and developing unique opinions while making students realize that they do have the power to change things. It may also encourage them to identify and resolve community’s problems and partake in social entrepreneurship in the future.

A positive correlation needs to be instilled with entrepreneurship and growth. Entrepreneurship will allow them to gain ownership of their life when they get older. It is not about raising money, but about finding creative solutions for environmental and social problems, and to fill voids left by ineffective state institutions. It is important to make students realize from early on that they can be innovative and have a great impact with whatever little resources they have at their disposal. These things need to be reiterated in the elementary and secondary school curriculums.

Entrepreneurship at the University Level

Entrepreneurship at the University Level
The goal for universities should be to provide more students with the desire, skills, and knowledge to start a company. Currently, the region lacks formal education on entrepreneurship. Only fewer than 10% of the universities in the MENA region offer entrepreneurial courses, only 17 universities in the region have centers for entrepreneurship, and a mere five actually offer a major in entrepreneurship. More universities need to establish major and minor degrees in entrepreneurship that cover topics such as business planning, problem solving, project management, risk management, finance and accounting.

To encourage the idea of entrepreneurship, universities may even consider altering the requirements for some existing degrees to include a few entrepreneurship-related courses. They may even encourage entrepreneurship clubs in which professors, business managers or established entrepreneurs present insights and training. All these initiatives at all levels of education could instill a culture of entrepreneurship.

There is also a need for young people to understand that they should expect to qualify once or twice in their lifetime and believe in lifelong learning. It also helps to partake in informal education such as seminars and networking events. Policymakers and educators must also ensure that the students are learning skills that will not only enable them to start their own business but also allow them to work at startups.

While it may be near impossible to teach someone how to become a successful entrepreneur, it is definitely possible to teach people how to think, make decisions and respond to challenges in a more entrepreneurial way and those skills can be leveraged in any office or industry. Thus, developing entrepreneurship skills is crucial to the growth of MENA region’s economy.

Overcoming Challenges Faced By Entrepreneurs

Overcoming Challenges Faced By Entrepreneurs
Historically, the public sector has been the main source of job creation in the region. However, currently, 90 percent of the jobs are created by the private sector – a lot of them startups. The growth of these organizations hinges as much on great founders as it does on great teams. To scale, entrepreneurs have to find skilled individuals eager to work for a startup. Along with learning how to start a business, people also need to be exposed to nuances of working for a young company. The shift in job availability is not yet reflected in people’s opinions as public jobs are still more sought after. This will change as entrepreneurship starts to become a familiar concept in school curriculums from the ground up.

Entrepreneurship has been described as a mindset by ongoing initiatives, a mindset encouraging creativity, critical thinking, leadership, communication skills and interpersonal skills accompanied by openness to risk, teamwork, and flexibility. While these are qualities conducive to starting and operating a business, they are also crucial to being an employee that adds value to such a business. As young people learn of the merits of starting a business, they also need to know that working with a startup is a viable career choice.

Local media including print, television, and social does not do enough to promote entrepreneurship. Media coverage can make or break a startup. Given its power to change attitudes and inspire, media can include more focus on entrepreneurship, wherein they highlight and glamorize new ideas. Regional leaders need to give greater attention to entrepreneurs who are truly innovative or have recognized a demand or supply gap in the market and seize the opportunity. These kinds of entrepreneurial activities have positive spillover effects on job growth and the development of the economy.

There is no dearth of entrepreneurial talent in MENA region. At the same time, there is an urgency to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem to bring out that talent. With one of the world’s youngest and fastest-growing working-age populations, the MENA region should provide adequate entrepreneurial conditions for its society to gain benefits from these entrepreneurs.

Benefits of Digital Learning over Traditional Education Methods

Digital learning is replacing traditional educational methods more and more each day. With how rapidly classrooms are changing, it is best to forget methods you may remember from when you were in school and start thinking about newer teaching and learning techniques based on digital learning tools and technologies. The inclusion of digital learning in the classrooms can vary from simply using tablets instead of paper to using elaborate software programs and equipment as opposed to the simple pen.

This could entail using sites, services, programs, teaching tools, and technologies like study aids built for at-home use. Even social networks and communications platforms can be used to create and manage digital assignments and agendas. Irrespective of how much technology is integrated into the classroom, digital learning has come to play a crucial role in education. It empowers students by getting them to be more interested in learning and expanding their horizons. Here is how
digital learning is a step up from traditional education methods.

Digital Learning Makes Students Smarter

Digital Learning Makes Students Smarter
Learning tools and technology enable students to develop effective self-directed learning skills. They are able to identify what they need to learn, find and use online resources, apply the information on the problem at hand, and even evaluate resultant feedback. This increases their efficiency and productivity. In addition to engaging students, digital learning tools and technology sharpen critical thinking skills, which are the basis for the development of analytic reasoning. Children who explore open-ended questions with imagination and logic learn how to make decisions, as opposed to just temporarily memorizing the textbook.

Educational tools by Young Digital Planet such as Bingiel teach children how to collaborate and work successfully in groups. This is typically done through gamification. Gamification is a great feature of interactive learning because it teaches children playing in a group to depend on and trust each other in order to win a game or achieve their goals. They also promote cooperation and teamwork which are very important skills, in every aspect of life.

Interactive social skill games are excellent learning tools that teach children discipline because playing games requires children to follow rules and guidelines in order to participate. Even children who might grow frustrated with other learning methods may stick with games longer because playing itself is rewarding. This ends up helping them develop patience, another useful life skill.

Children also develop positive feelings of accomplishment from mastering new knowledge and skills using digitized learning tools giving them the confidence they need to want to learn even more new things. It is commendable that millions of courses by the best educators are available for free to anyone with an internet connection. The possibilities are endless.

Digital Learning Is Making Students Self-Motivated and More Accountable

Digital Learning Is Making Students Self-Motivated and More Accountable
Students using digital learning tools and technology become more engaged in the process and more interested in growing their knowledge base, they may not even realize that they’re actively learning since they’re learning through engaging methods such as peer education, teamwork, problem-solving, reverse teaching, concept maps, gamification, staging, role playing, and storytelling.

Since digital learning is far more interactive and memorable than voluminous textbooks or one-sided lectures, they provide better context, a greater sense of perspective, and more engaging activities than traditional education methods. This allows students to better connect with the learning material. Further, they often offer a more interesting and involving way to digest information. This is reflected in their retention rates and test scores. Also, when students can track their own progress it can improve motivation and accountability.

Digital Learning Tools Involve Educators and Parents to a Deeper Extent

Digital Learning Tools Involve Educators and Parents to a Deeper Extent
Learning tools and technologies like social learning platforms make it easy for teachers to create and manage groups. The shift to digital learning can approximate the benefits of tutoring while freeing up time for teachers to address individual and small group needs. The opportunity to customize learning sequences for each student will make education more productive by closing learning gaps sooner and accelerating progress. Dynamic grouping, workshops, and project-based learning can add lots of collaborative learning to the already present education model.

Panworld Education provides lesson planning tools for educators, making their tasks easier. Educators can also join online professional learning communities to ask questions and share tips and stay connected with a global educators’ community. They can keep themselves updated with the most relevant content for their curriculum using such learning tools and technology. Panworld Education even offers digitalized teaching tools including curriculum-integrated and enrichment digital content, gamification platforms, and language learning with the objective of enriching and enhancing the classroom experience. These help teachers teach better and students learn better through engagement and enjoyment.

Apart from educators, parents can use interactive activities to encourage their child’s interest in learning since gamification makes the process much more enjoyable and interesting. Parents can also explore online learning activities with their child which can serve as an extension to what they are learning in their classrooms. Digital learning tools and technology provide enjoyment for kids as well as numerous benefits in terms of developing a child’s well-being. Everyone benefits with the digitization of learning.

Digital Learning Tools and Technology Is Rapidly Increasing Information Sharing

Digital Learning Tools and Technology Is Rapidly Increasing Information Sharing
In recent years, the shift from print to digital has impacted how we learn. Just as printing press did six centuries ago, this transition is transforming formal education and increasing learning opportunities. Digital learning is not only allowing students to access more and more information but also ensuring that the information in question is customizable and suited to their personal needs. The opportunity to help every student learn at the best pace and path for them is the most important benefit of digital learning.

Digital learning tools and technology enable educators to rapidly share information with other educators in real-time. The explosion of free and open content and tools has created an environment of sharing economy. By embracing digital devices and connected learning, classrooms around the country and around the globe can not only coordinate with one another to share insights but also boost learning, experience, and communications skills. The practice also allows educators to enjoy a level playing field. Schools can save money while ensuring equitable access to educational material as expensive private schools.

Increasing Students’ Employability with Digital Learning Tools and Technology

Increasing Students Employability with Digital Learning Tools and Technology
Equipping students with the requirements of higher education and holding a career at a young age has become one of the most crucial responsibilities of school education. Digital learning solutions based on problem-based learning emphasize on learning methods that are constructive, collaborative and calls the students’ attention to a real-world approach to learning.

With the ongoing employment crisis in the MENA region, it is crucial that if young people are unable to find jobs, they should have the ability to create their own and ideally even generate jobs for others. For this purpose, newer methods of learning and education need to be incorporated into the school curriculums, starting right from elementary school. Digital learning tools and technology in elementary, secondary, and high schools prepares students for higher education and modern careers by helping them acquire skills including problem-solving, familiarity with emerging technologies, and self-motivation.

Traditional Education Methods Have To Be Replaced

Traditional Education Methods Have To Be Replaced
Traditional lectures may still exist along with the new-age learning tools and technology, but the lecture materials should be provided as a supplement to classroom activities and moved online for students to reference outside of the classroom. Classroom time is better used for discussing the curriculum, engaging in activities with teams and completing class projects. Students often have the option to pace their learning and even study ahead with a digital learning tool if they wish to do so. By helping children think outside their typical learning modes, digital learning inspires creativity and lets children feel a sense of accomplishment that encourages further learning.

Digital learning tools and technology fill the gaps where traditional classroom teaching falls behind. In fact, some of the efficiencies such tools bring are simply unmatchable by traditional learning techniques. From the environmental impact recognized by the need for less paper for handouts and books to saving time with quick access to information and the ease of research, digital learning provides an effective way to cut costs, maximize resources and heighten both reach and impact for students and educators alike.

Role of Parents in Early Childhood Development

Throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region, more and more emphasis is being placed on early education and care in recent years. From ensuring primary education for all and updating curriculums of primary schools to ensuring the right environments at home for early childhood development, the aforementioned emphasis is widespread and diverse at the same time. Despite a lot of investment in education by governments in the region, children in these countries are not learning enough and their academic results or outcomes do not match those of children in other countries outside the region.

As school systems reach massive levels of participation with the youth bulge growing in the MENA region, concerns about the relevance and quality of education has intensified with the primary school curriculum being in the spotlight. When children experience quality early education and care, their short-term cognitive, social and emotional development take a boost. Similarly, early education and care facilitates their long-term success in academics and even later life.

Parents have a crucial part to play to ensure early childhood development in their children. Involved parents can make a positive and lasting impact on their children’s learning ability. Children who are properly stimulated from birth to age five by their parents tend to perform better than other children in the long run. What this means is that these children are more likely to complete their schooling, perform better academically, and lead healthier and more productive lives as adults. On the ground, this stimulation takes the form of being read to, attending preschool, and having parents who are aware of the school curriculum.

During the first five years, the brain’s synaptic networks are still in the process of forming. This is when children’s development is particularly receptive to human contact. How parents interact with their children and engage them in cognitive, social, and emotional developmental activities in these years defines their future selves.

Why Parents Need To Be More Involved In Early Childhood Development

Why Parents Need To Be More Involved In Early Childhood Development
Children’s development of the cognitive and social skills needed for success later in school is supported by responsive parenting. Responsiveness plays an important role in providing a strong foundation for children to develop optimally. This includes positive affection and high levels of warmth in combination with behaviors that are cognitively responsive to the child’s needs.

Parent involvement in early childhood education can extend the experiences that a child has inside the classroom to actual activities that happen in the home. Parents who are in tune with the primary school curriculum and keep themselves updated with what is happening in their children’s classroom are better able to establish a connection between home and school. This connection is a key component of a child’s development and supporting further learning creates a positive experience for them. This, in turn, helps them perform better academically. In a nutshell, young children’s acquisition of problem-solving, language, and social-emotional skills are facilitated by interactions with their parents. Parents becoming more involved during the early childhood development period also promotes school-readiness, which ensure they stay in school and a lower grade repetition rates.

Early interventions are not only long-lasting but also much more economical when compared to repairing problems that develop as a result of delayed or damaged development. Access to quality early childhood education and care can strengthen the foundations of lifelong learning for all children. It is thus crucial to develop strategies to empower and educate parents on how to provide a stimulating, loving and protective environment at home.

A good example of a state that’s incorporated parents into the education system brilliantly is Jordan. The state runs a Parental Involvement Initiative set out to introduce parents into kindergartens, making them aware of the primary school curriculum, acquainting them with the teaching methods used, and the philosophy explaining the routines followed. It aims also at enriching the classroom environment through tapping into the experiences and expertise of parents in facilitating children’s learning. A parent who understands what their child is working on at preschool has a better sense of their child’s competency and which areas they need to work on to improve. They can then facilitate this improvement.

Parents And Primary Schools

Parents And Primary Schools
Primary school educators need to do their part to ensure parent engagement. Education technology can help parents be more involved in their children’s school curriculum. Tools such as Bingiel can be used by parents to be more included in their children’s primary school curriculum. They can use it with or without their children. It increases parents’ understanding of the educational process and cooperation with teachers. Even teachers and school administrators can make good use of this tool. It uses storification, gamification, and personal learning paths to make the primary school curriculum more interesting for everyone involved while particularly increasing student engagement. There are plenty more such applications available to parents.

Primary school teachers can encourage parents to be more involved in their child’s primary school education. Schools could take some or all of the steps that will make parents feel more engaged in their child’s life. Parents can be invited to the school to learn more about the teachers, staff, and facilities at the school. Parents could also share their talent or devote time to volunteering inside the classroom. They could even be asked if there are any particular topics they believe is missing and needs to be incorporated in the school curriculum.

Children could also have a journal outlining their achievements. It can be a way for parents and teachers to communicate with each other. Schools can also make useful resources available to parents in relation to developing motor skills, language development, behavior management and more. Schools can even recommend some complementary activities that a parent and child can complete at home to extend their curriculum beyond the classroom setting.

Early Childhood Development and Policy

Early Childhood Development and Policy
While family is a personal matter, early childhood development is as much a state matter as it is a filial one. Policy and practice decision-makers need to pay particular attention to parents who are most at risk: they need to find ways to facilitate change in parents’ behaviors, taking into consideration personal beliefs and social support to maximize effectiveness. Given the critically important role of early childhood learning and primary school curriculums, policy-makers have an interest in making sure that young children’s environments at homes and schools promote positive outcomes and their education is relevant and effective. This creates successful future citizens.

It is unfortunate that children have to experience substantial inequality of opportunity starting early in life. What’s worse is that that inequality is more impactful in early learning and in activities that support early cognitive development. A wide variety of elements such as wealth, and even the education level of the family impact the early cognitive development of a child. Ensuring equality of opportunity in school will require addressing the causes of inequality of opportunity in early childhood which requires sustained, targeted, and complex policies. MENA countries must work towards providing equality of opportunity fiercely.

Policies which set out to improve early child development must also take care of complementary strategies linked to the different environments that surround a child. This is a challenging task but very much possible by ensuring that there is consistency in both philosophy and strategy between government policies and actual action.

Children Are the Future of the World

Children Are the Future of the World
In the midst of conflicts in the MENA region, perhaps a commitment to early childhood development would be one thing the various factions, all of whom want the best for their children, could come together and make progress on. Children are every parent’s greatest joy and every country’s greatest resource. Investing in them during their critical early years is one of the greatest gifts parents, educators, and the government can give them and one of the smartest moves to make for the future of the world.

How the Middle East can make the Most of Their Youth Bulge Using Education Technology

Presently, the Middle East is experiencing a youth bulge due to the high fertility rates in the past. This is when a large share of the population is comprised of children and young adults. Although population growth rates are expected to decline in the future, the demand for education will increase as this bulge puts added pressure on the education system to accommodate new students. Educational technology can make take some of this pressure off the education system.

Interestingly, the Middle East has experienced unique demographic changes over the past few decades with the population increasing from 100 million in 1950 to approximately 380 million in 2000. No other region of the world has grown as rapidly. The youth represent an overwhelmingly large share of the total population. Today, young adults make up 21.5% of the population, whereas children under 15 make up for 45% of the current population. Estimates suggest that total population in the Middle East will reach 600 million by 2025. These demographic changes pose an important challenge for education in decades to come.

These educational challenges can only be resolved with innovation in educational methods and technology. Not only will there be an increase in demand for formal educational, there will also be a demand for different educational outcomes, students will require educational opportunities that do not exist yet. Governments need foresight to see what kind of careers will be important in the future. The profile of human capital this youth bulge will bring with them will ultimately determine how each country in the region will develop in economic, social, political, and cultural terms.

It is necessary to ensure all of these children who make up 45% of the population in the region attend primary schools.  At present, the Middle East has succeeded in providing most children with educational opportunities, which has narrowed gender, rural, and socioeconomic gaps in access to schooling. This needs to continue. Further, once everyone is in school, it must be ensured that they do not drop out. It is also of equal importance that they learn the most they can while there.

Moreover, the education systems must be changed to deliver the new skills and expertise necessary to excel in a more competitive environment. The population will need to obtain fundamental as well as specific skills. Dealing with these new challenges will be costly. Thus, the Middle East not only needs to plan how education will be delivered but also how it will be paid for in their policies.

How Educational Technology Can Make a Difference

How Educational Technology Can Make a Difference
To accommodate the youth bulge, subjects taught in school may need to change so as to inculcate those skills in citizens that make it easier for them to adapt to an evolving labor market. In a knowledge economy, the ability to communicate and analyze requires a mastery of these basic skills. Unfortunately, copying from the blackboard, writing, and listening to the teachers are still a large part of the teaching method in this region. The focus needs to shift towards group work, creative thinking, and proactive learning. These are the kinds of abilities educational technology promotes.

A youth bulge places different pressures on social infrastructure at different phases of its aging process. The immediate pressure on the Middle East is providing educational opportunities that will lead to gainful employment. Economic liberalization is needed in the region to encourage business development that can employ many potential young employees. This is why educational technology is the best way to create great future citizens.

Education technology has a positive impact on teaching and learning. Panworld Education provides schools with digitalized teaching tools including but not limited to curriculum-integrated digital content, gamification platforms, and language learning. Educational technology thus enriches and enhances the classroom experience. This not only makes learning more fun for students, it makes teaching easier on educators and even helps make the parents more involved in their children’s schooling.

Educational technology has created digital content for interactive learning modules which turn a lesson into a fun exercise that involves the students mentally and holds their attention for longer periods of time than traditional learning methods. Digital learning platforms, up to date with the latest trends in the education and learning industry also helps teachers teach better and students learn better through engagement and enjoyment. Panworld Education also offers platforms that allow teachers to customize and plan their own course digitally, lessening their burden.

With global competition and rapid technological change at the forefront of the economy, a future employee needs to be well-educated and technically skilled while producing value-added, knowledge-intensive goods and services. Lifelong learning has the potential to make the youth of the region ready for this since education is an on-going process and no one is too old to learn. Lifelong learning includes multiple opportunities for individuals to continually renew their knowledge, skills, and competencies with smooth adaptation and response to the changing educational demands of the economy. Education systems in most Middle Eastern countries only allow limited opportunities for individuals to obtain more skills and acquire more knowledge after completing their formal degree or beginning to work. This needs to change.

Meeting the Challenges the Youth Bulge Presents

Meeting the Challenges the Youth Bulge Presents
The nature of education will change as more students are expected to succeed, and succeed at higher levels of achievement. The majority of the increase in demand for education is going to be at the secondary and higher levels of education, which tend to be more costly than primary education to provide. The governments in the region need to allocate resources to these institutions. They also need to upgrade what is taught in schools and how it is taught. Educational technology can enable them, which will further give students the opportunity to acquire the necessary fundamental and transversal skills.

Along with reforming the education system, employment opportunities must become available that can use skilled graduates. If the countries of the region do not succeed in making their economies more open to development and diversification, the educated youth will seek employment in other countries and the region will not benefit as much as they could from increased investment in education. Different types of learning (including digitalized learning, e-learning, and lifelong learning) need to come together to strengthen the link between education institutions and the labor market, with better partnerships and learning endeavors.

Stepping up and meeting the challenges that the youth bulge presents to the schooling and employment systems with the help of educational technology is fundamental to meet the aspirations of the population for a better life. With an education system that provides the skills needed to prosper in the international economy and employment opportunities that can use those skills, the youth bulge can be a driver of growth and social stability in the region.

Using education to close the gender gap in the Arab world

Gender gap is the difference between school enrollment, retention, and complete ratios between boys and girls. In most cases, gender gap is not in favor of girls. The World’s Women 2015 study states that 496 million women are illiterate, with significant hurdles to overcome in achieving the global goal of gender equality. However, the most recent World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report shows that the Arab world is closing its overall gender gap by 60%. This includes education attainment, political empowerment, health and survival, as well as, economic participation. Education and learning play a key role in bridging this gap.

The educational gender gap in the region has improved at a rate of 93%, which is an astounding improvement. In the space of just two generations, the magnitude of this widespread education movement has elevated the prospects of millions of Muslim women. Gender equality is simply good economics. It is good public policy, good for the education, health of children, and for the prosperity of the Arab world. As Sheryl Sandberg has emphasized in her book, ‘Lean In’, educating and empowering women to become leaders is not only good for women but for the society at large.

Increase in Access to Education in the Arab World

Increase in Access to Education in the Arab World
Access to education has dramatically increased in the past few decades in the Arab world. Almost all governments in the region, especially those that possess oil wealth, have made massive investments in education and learning over the past decade. This has resulted in a rapid increase in primary and secondary education rates from abysmally low starting points only half a century ago. Further, several governments in the region have stressed the importance of improving female access to education and have, thus, attempted to reduce gender gaps at different educational levels.

Almost all young girls in the region attend school and usually, the girls seem to outperform the boys academically. This shift has also occurred for women in higher education. The ratio of female to male higher education enrollment in the region is 108%. In Qatar, this ratio is even higher, at a staggering 676%. In the United Arab Emirates, women enroll in university at three times the rate of men and in Saudi Arabia; the university gender gap was closed a decade ago. These are two of the most improved countries in regards to efforts to close the gender gap. Other countries in the region are also catching up.

Although young women seek and succeed in education at higher rates than young men, they are far less likely to enter and remain in the job market. It is tragic that about three out of four Arab women remain outside the active labor force. It is imperative to understand and remove barriers that have hindered women from working. Such a step will yield significant social and economic benefits to every country in the region.

There has been significant progress in terms of education and learning, especially in primary education. 60% of the countries in the region have ensured universal primary education by 2015 and that percentage keeps on growing. However, there is still much to be done for secondary levels and higher education to catch up with an ever globalizing world.

There needs to be more stress on sustained improvement of education and learning especially with regards to women. Arabs have spent more of their GDP on education than any other developing region but these resources can be spent in a more effective manner. With the help of Panworld Education providing educational content and technology, quality of education can be improved. Even in the past, they’ve closely worked with Ministries of Education to implement their educational policies.

More Women at Work

More Women at Work
As female education becomes deeply rooted and normalized within family structures, the next wave of change is under way: more women are going to work. Education and learning contribute directly to the growth of the nation by improving the capabilities of the labor force. Without proper education and learning, women are unable to partake in opportunities that global trends bring about, like joining a growing export market, or creating their own business.

Increasing women’s access to education will also increase their participation in the labor force. Thus, improvement in women’s educational conditions can be equated with the improvement for the nation. Research has shown that return on investments, when it comes to education, for women is either equal to or higher than of men’s. Earlier on, women in the Arab world were working in the agricultural sector but with improved access to education and learning, they can seek better opportunities to support themselves, as well as their families.

Children of educated mothers are more likely to be enrolled in schools and learn. Improved incomes because of learning and education have also led women to plan careers instead of merely holding jobs. For those still out of the labor force, it is extremely important for the government to recognize and remove barriers that are stopping these women from working. Many women are setting excellent examples of leadership in the Arab world. In Lebanon, where entrepreneurship among women is amongst the highest in the region, technology has lowered the cost of access to entrepreneurship and facilitated the ability of women to find employment.

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the minister of International Cooperation and Development in the UAE has put it well when she said, “When a society doesn’t focus on female education, you see after a while that it does not provide women with enough opportunities. In the UAE today, we’ve seen that education for women has been a priority since the inception of the state and women were able to access many sectors because of education.” While it is important to recognize that a large number of Arab women still do face societal and business challenges, powerful women leaders are pushing forward, creating pathways and inspiring others to follow their lead.

Positive Effects of Education: Women and Society

Positive Effects of Education- Women and Society
Education and learning have positive implications in terms of economic growth, employment, mortality rates, family planning and reproductive health, and overall well-being of citizens. It is a tool for empowerment and sustainable development. Women, who are educated, want their families and children to be educated and employed as well. This keeps generations after generations motivated in educating themselves, learning, and growing.

Education is also a key factor in ending global poverty. Employment opportunities have increased with education and learning. With an increase in employment opportunities, income also increases. In areas where access, attendance and quality of education have seen improvements, a reduction in the spread of HIV/AIDS is clearly visible. There is even an increase in the health of the community in general. The impact of education and learning is also reflected in lower crime rates, greater economic growth, and improved social services.

What the Future Holds

What the Future Holds
The growth of educated women is exponential. Education and learning has positive and far-reaching impacts for economies. However, it is clear that much work still remains to be done and that the pace of change must be accelerated in some areas. Improving access to education and improving the quality of education are the most rewarding investments a country can make. By investing in women’s education, governments will benefit by enhanced economic and social development, improved human capital, and reduction in poverty.

While the gender gap has narrowed significantly, effective strategies in educational policies can increase enrollment and quality of education and learning even further. Large gaps between women and men’s labor force participation that remain can be remedied by providing solutions to increase participation of women in the workforce across the Arab world. This will reflect in a spiked GDP for the nations.

Bridging the gap between education and employment using Interactive Learning Solutions

Youth unemployment is among the most pressing challenges facing the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region today. The rate of unemployment for young people in the region at nearly 30% is one of the highest in the world. A growing problem in the region is a mismatch between the education system and the skill requirements of the present job market. New technologies and integration into world economies require people with problem-solving skills, familiarity with emerging technologies, and self-motivation whereas the traditional education system places too much emphasis on rote-repetition learning.

Youth Unemployment Crisis And The Education-Employment Gap

It is the need of the hour for countries in the MENA region to work towards bridging the gap between education and employment. The best foot forward in this regard is increased partnership between universities and regional employers. The challenge is not only in technical education or the curriculum but rather in the development of soft skills, such as management and communication skills.

One way to bridge this gap between education and employment is by supporting interactive learning solutions, usually provided by private education companies which have proven adept at tailoring their training programs to the job market which helps youth acquire the skills required by their employers.

What Is Missing From The School Curriculum?

What Is Missing From The School Curriculum
In countries where Science, Technology, Economics, and Mathematics (STEM) skills are required in the market and taught in the curriculum, the practical application and relevance of these to a working environment is often missing. Any country in pursuit of a knowledge-based economy emphasizes a lot on STEM skills. However, such skills can only be better transferred and applied to the working environment if soft skills, such as interpersonal skills, strong work ethic, and the ability to identify, analyze and solve problems are also provided in the curriculum.

Apart from STEM skills, rapid changes in technology, information and economy call for the new competence in critical thinking, problem-solving, decision making, team working, and more. How to equip students with the requirements for graduate competence has become one of the most crucial responsibilities in school education. Interactive learning solutions based on problem-based learning emphasize on learning method that is constructive, collaborative and calls the students’ attention to a real-world approach to learning.

It is absolutely essential that students develop effective self-directed learning skills, are able to identify what they need to learn, can locate and use appropriated resources, apply the information back to the problem and reflect on the evaluation of their approach for greater efficiency and effectiveness. They’re able to do all of this with the help of interactive learning.

How Interactive Learning Solutions Can Bridge the Education-Employment Gap

How Interactive Learning Solutions Can Bridge the Education-Employment Gap
Interactive learning education is a hands-on teaching approach that prompts students to learn by interacting with course materials through technology including videos, online games and activities, curriculum tracking apps, and active discussions. Since students are invited to participate in the conversation through both classroom strategies and online instruction as opposed to the traditional lecture, interactive learning is a lot more engaging.

In addition to engaging students, interactive learning sharpens critical thinking skills, which are the basis for the development of analytic reasoning. Children who explore open-ended questions with imagination and logic learn how to make decisions, as opposed to just temporarily memorizing the textbook. Also, interactive learning teaches children how to collaborate and work successfully in groups, which is a useful skill, as workplaces become more and more team-based.

Parents and teachers can use interactive activities to encourage their child’s interest in learning because gamification makes the process much more enjoyable and interesting. Parents can also explore online learning activities with their child since these can serve as an extension to what they are learning in their classrooms. Interactive learning solutions provide enjoyment for kids as well as numerous benefits in terms of developing a child’s well-being.

Gamification is a great feature of interactive learning because it teaches children how to depend on and trust each other in order to win a game or achieve their goals. They also promote cooperation and teamwork which are very important skills, in every aspect of life. Interactive social skill games are excellent learning tools that also teach the children discipline because while playing games children have to follow rules and guidelines in order to participate. Even children who might grow frustrated with other learning methods may stick with games longer because playing itself is rewarding. This ends up helping them develop patience, another useful life skill.

Traditional lectures may still exist along with interactive learning models, but the lecture materials should be provided as a supplement to classroom activities and moved online for students to reference outside of the classroom. Classroom time is better used for discussing the materials, engaging in activities with teams and completing class projects. Students often have the option to pace their learning and work ahead with an interactive learning model if they wish to do so. By helping children think outside their typical learning modes, interactive learning inspires creativity and lets children feel a sense of accomplishment that encourages further learning.

How MENA Has Attempted To Bridge the Education-Employment Gap Using Technology

How MENA Has Attempted To Bridge the Education-Employment Gap Using Technology
In Egypt, an initiative by Nefam has made the country’s entire K-12 curriculum available online. There are approximately 500,000 students making use of the 65 million lessons that are being provided for free. The advertising supported effort has also uploaded about half of the Saudi and Syrian national curriculums online.

In 2014, online learning platform edX and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia collaborated on Massive Open Online Course portal to bridge the gap between education and employment. The courses were targeted at Saudi women, youth, the disabled and citizens in rural communities and created exclusively for Arab audiences to deliver vocational and employability skills to historically underserved learners in the region.

Jordan is another MENA country that has been at the forefront of curriculum reform in the region emphasizing subject-matter skills, as well as other transferable skills that are necessary for success in the private sector, including communication, teamwork, analysis of information, and self-directed learning.

Technology can have a huge impact in this space and bridge the education and employment gap, as interactive learning solutions have shown. Countries in the region have invested heavily in equipping schools and faculties with computers, labs, networks, and software to ensure that students have hands-on opportunities to master their skills. Panworld Education gives the option to schools to incorporate blended education models into their curriculum, mixing printed textbooks and reference materials with digitalized teaching tools including but not limited to curriculum-integrated and enrichment digital content, gamification platforms, and language learning platforms.

The gap between education and employment can largely be tackled by improving the underlying quality of education using the interactive learning solutions. A fundamental shift from traditional rote-repetition learning to one that promotes problem solving and application of knowledge is required to help ease the path to gainful employment for the youth of tomorrow.

It’s time the MENA region revamp the way it teaches and learns by adopting a new system that takes personal needs and sudden developments into account. Anyone can and should apply to continue a lifelong journey of learning based on need and curiosity. In the US too, more and more emphasis is being placed on professional courses, e-learning, and digitized content on websites like Udemy. Distance education has also come to become more accepted, education through correspondence is a well-established tradition but with new technologies, the avenues for learning from home have multiplied exponentially.

Why Interactive Learning Should Be Implemented Right Away

Why Interactive Learning Should Be Implemented Right Away
Interactive learning can work where traditional classroom teaching may fall short. Children develop positive feelings of accomplishment from mastering new knowledge and skills using interactive learning. Interactive activities reward children for developing skills and can give them the confidence they need to want to learn even more new things.

Policy makers need to devise education funding strategies to sustain quality and meet rising demand for education and learning with an increased emphasis on interactive learning solutions, which also require resources. The MENA region still needs to reshape its education systems to meet these new challenges. If the countries of the region cannot alter their education systems to better prepare young people for the needs of the international economy, a significant part of that youth population will not be adequately trained for jobs that drive economic growth.

The education systems also need to be more responsive to the needs of an economy increasingly open to private educational companies. While the interactive learning solutions are implemented in K-12, encouraging entrepreneurial activity and lifelong learning should be an ongoing response to the persistent problem of jobless youth in the region.

Why Digital Learning Is Rapidly Growing In the MENA Region

The Middle East and North Africa Region is the cradle of civilization. Human beings first evolved here. Science and Mathematics was taken to Europe by the Arab traders from this region. With this history, it was surprising that education was not considered the region’s strongest suit. Today, the circle has completed and a new trend has emerged to take the MENA region back to its former glory – Digital Learning.

In spite of the rapid progress this region made in nearly all fronts, education seemed to lag behind. This changed a few decades ago when many governments in the regions decided to aggressively push the education sector with heavy investments. As a result, illiteracy has been halved since 1980, the average levels of schooling have quadrupled, and the gender disparity has almost been leveled.

As part of this educational revolution, we have begun to see a rise in the use of technology as a teaching aid. Panworld Education has been supplying quality educational content for ten years and is now responsible for bringing digital learning to this region.

What Is Digital Learning?

What Is Digital Learning
Digital Learning, unlike traditional learning, is not just dependent on books and teachers. A significant portion of the lessons are supplemented with digital or online media. These are usually interactive and can be accessed on any device from anywhere.

The biggest advantage blended learning offers is that the students are allowed to progress through the lesson at their own pace. It also frees up the teachers as exercises are completed digitally, leaving them to focus on children who might need a bit of extra attention.

Why Is Digital Learning Becoming So Popular In The MENA Region?

Why Is Digital Learning Becoming So Popular In The MENA Region
To understand why digital learning is becoming so popular in the MENA region, we first need to understand the background of the education sector in the region. Therefore, before we actually delve into the why digital learning is becoming popular; humor us, as we walk you through a brief history of this region vis-à-vis education.

The Middle East and North African Region, as mentioned earlier, did not have a great deal of focus on education. This has been a recent development, with various governments investing in building a more educated future. This focus has been fueled by an influx of migrants, especially in some of the Middle Eastern countries. This has resulted in a rapid growth of population and a resultant demand on the education system. These students come from different parts of the world from varying educational backgrounds. This means the schools need to be able to deal with a wide spectrum of needs.

Additionally, since education funding is so recent, there is a dearth of institutes for higher education. Until recently, students from this region had to look to other countries for higher education. This of course was not feasible for students who were economically not equipped for the expenses involved.

So how does all of this translate to a rapidly growing demand for interactive learning solutions?

1. Recent Investment In The Education Sector Means Getting The Latest Technology:

Recent Investment In The Education Sector Means Getting The Latest Technology
With countries that have been investing in education for decades, investment in education typically goes more into the upkeep and growth rather than rebuilding the infrastructure. With already established systems, it is cheaper to build upon them rather than try to do a complete revamp.

The biggest drawback of the MENA countries, their previous lack of education funding, now means that whatever they invest will be in the latest technologies. This means educational technology will become a part of their educational system rather than being introduced piece-meal. This is one of the factors that have made digital learning material so popular here.

2. Rapidly Growing Populations Need Educational Methods That Can Accommodate Numbers:

Rapidly Growing Populations Need Educational Methods That Can Accommodate Numbers
The rate at which the population in some of these countries is rising means that educational institutions need to be able to cope with more pupils. Digital learning offers the simple solution where teachers need to invest lesser time for better returns.

With online course material and digital teaching aids, students can go over a lesson with a teacher and then review it on their own. The digital course material is interactive and helps students understand with visuals and videos.

This frees up the teachers to teach students who are not as quick to grasp the lesson as others. It also means they can teach a larger class without losing out on the quality of education. Blended learning also helps institutions utilize limited space by making certain lessons completely online.

3. Digital Learning Is More Efficient For Teachers And Students:

Digital Learning Is More Efficient For Teachers And Students
Digital learning tools help make lessons more interesting for students and can be accessed from anywhere. This makes them easier to understand and the students get the advantage of going through the lesson at a comfortable pace. Additionally, it also makes learning less of a chore and more of a fun activity.

As mentioned earlier, interactive learning solutions assist the teachers, thereby giving them more time with students who need the human interaction. It helps them plan lessons easily, teach more effectively and do it in less time than with conventional methods. With demand on the education systems increasing every year, this efficiency is highly valued.

4. It Makes It Easier To Phase Into Online Higher Education:

It Makes It Easier To Phase Into Online Higher Education
Most countries in the MENA region have few or no institutes of higher education. Up until quite recently, they relied on colleges and universities in the more developed nations. This obviously meant that students who could not afford to go abroad to study had to suffer.

The internet has changed that. Even as more institutes of higher education are being set up, online university courses are still a popular choice for graduation and post-graduation studies. The reason for this is the obvious cost and time advantage. Students can attend classes in a university thousands of miles away while sitting at home.

Online classes are held once a week and lessons and lectures uploaded on to the server. These are available to students at any time. They also have to pay a fraction of the fee, without the additional costs of traveling and accommodation. This makes access to higher education easy for every economic class.

Because digital learning involves a great deal of online education as well, this makes it easier to transition from digital K-12 learning to online higher education. This makes education more egalitarian and accessible to all.

5. Encourages Learning Of Technology Along With Regular Lessons:

Encourages Learning Of Technology Along With Regular Lessons
The MENA region has had a lack of skilled technicians mainly due to the lack of educational facilities. While technology is making its way into the society not many people are technology-savvy. This is not a major issue, but having digital learning in school does encourage the students to get comfortable with digital technology.

While digital learning may not be the perfect solution, it does have some significant advantages over traditional learning methods. These advantages make it ideal for the requirements of the MENA region, which has contributed to its massively growing popularity here.

Why Blended Learning Is The Way Forward

Most people believe that learning is dependent on how well a teacher can teach. What nearly all teachers understand is that you cannot teach someone who is unwilling to learn. Since children are inherently curious and eager to find out more about their surroundings, it is often the fault of uninteresting lessons that kill their desire to learn. Fortunately, we now have blended learning methods that help makes lessons engaging.

Traditional methods of imparting knowledge have either been oral or written. Most scriptures, fairy tales, myths, and legends were passed down orally as lessons. Eventually, we learned to write these lessons down and began learning from these written materials.

Oral or written methods usually relied on a teacher orally reciting the lesson, or reading from a book, and explaining. If one student out of the many did not understand or memorise the lesson with the rest of the class, he would usually be left behind. This was to ensure that the students who had understood didn’t have to waste time or slow down to let other children catch up.

The obvious disadvantage of this method was that it did not take into account the needs of children who might have benefited from a different way of explaining. For example, a teacher might orally explain a concept. The students who are good with aural learning would obviously understand better than students who understand better when they see a visual.

Some students might grasp a concept in mathematics very quickly, while others need to work out problems before they ‘get’ it. Traditional book learning has not been effective with students who need more than just a chapter in a book being orally explained once or twice by the teacher.

Similarly, certain students might lose interest early on if they find the lesson boring. They would require a more stimulating approach to keep their interest. If they miss out on comprehending a crucial bit of information, they would find the rest of the lesson impossible to understand. This would make it even more tedious for them to keep up.

There are teachers who go the extra mile, of course, and ensure that they explain the lesson in different ways so that everyone understands. However, it still means that some students get ‘left behind’. Blended learning is the perfect solution to keeping all students engaged and at the same pace.

What is Blended Learning?

What is Blended Learning

Blended learning, as the name suggests, involves teaching with different media. Unlike online learning, where the entire course may be conducted online, blended learning takes place in a classroom as well as online. However, instead of relying solely on a textbook for explaining the lesson, digital media are also used.
For example, in a biology class, the textbook information may be complemented with videos, interactive diagrams, and more. This makes learning more engaging for everyone and different forms of explanation means the lesson is understood by everyone.

What are the Advantages of Blended Learning?

Advantages of Blended Learning
Blended learning offers advantages that neither traditional nor online learning offer. In addition to the obvious advantages the students get, one of which is mentioned above, it has something for everyone.

Advantages Blended Learning Offers The Institution:

Advantages Blended Learning Offers The Institution
Blended learning can help institutions manage space issues. Since certain lessons can be explained online, this frees up classroom space. Because of the availability of digital media that students can access at home, they don’t need to be in class to practice their lessons.

It lessens the human resource burden. Blended learning makes it possible for the same number of students to be catered to by a fewer number of teachers. Since classroom sizes are growing the world over, without blended learning, institutions would have had to increase the number of teachers. Now, the ‘digital teacher’ can assist the class teacher with the lessons.

Since blended learning increases the engagement of the learner with interactive lessons and even gamification, students perform better. This obviously adds to the institution’s reputation.

Advantages Blended Learning Offers To The Teachers:

Advantages Blended Learning Offers To The Teachers
In today’s overcrowded classrooms, teachers get a virtual assistant with most blended learning tools. It is no longer necessary for them to go over a point again and again. Once they have explained it, the students can interact with the digital media to get a deeper understanding. This way, teachers can focus on what’s important – conceptualisation.

It also frees up the teachers to move around the class and pay attention to students who are struggling. While the quicker students can move on ahead with digital lessons, students who need extra coaching can be given more attention. This means no one has to slow their pace or rush the pace of their learning just because they’re in a classroom.

Advantages Blended Learning Offers To The Students:

Advantages Blended Learning Offers To The Students

Students, perhaps, have the most to gain from blended learning. As mentioned earlier, blended learning ensures they learn better at their own pace. They can do practice exercises as many times as they want or they can choose to speed through if they feel they already know the subject. Furthermore, the digital component also adds mobility i.e. the students can bush up on subjects while in transit or even at home.

Since lessons are made fun through gamification or interactive formats, it becomes less a boring class and more an interesting experience for students. Panworld Education, for example, offers a range of products from Sanoma. One of these products is Young Digital Planet which covers the K-12 syllabus in an interesting and engaging way.

Lessons for younger students are made especially engaging. The bright and colorful images teach young children their lessons via games. Science and maths are explained with interactive lessons that convert subjects that most students find boring into interesting challenges.

This method helps them understand how different concepts in different subjects relate to each other. For example, in traditional learning, chemistry and biology are taught separately. With blended learning, the interactive lessons would link lessons learned in both classes. This enhances the students’ understanding of broader concepts and real world applications.

The best part about blended learning for students is the fact that it combines the best of traditional and digital learning. This way, they get interaction with a teacher and additional help with their lesson from online media.
Another thing that blended learning offers in addition to the lessons is the fact that it teaches children how to use technology. It teaches them that computers and the internet don’t just have to be toys to be played with but that they can actually be tools to sharpen one’s mind.

It is obvious that blended learning can do a lot for all parties concerned in making education better. It improves performance of the institution, the teachers, and the students. The concept of interactive blended learning is gaining more traction as its efficacy is becoming more widespread. This form of learning is indeed the next step in the learning evolution.