As the end of the 2019/2020 academic year draws closer, it seems only fitting to reflect on the challenges that the education sector has overcome in the past few months. We in the education sector can all take pride in helping our students complete their courses, and in our ability to successfully adapt and thrive during these difficult circumstances. However, now that we know remote learning is more than just a temporary measure, it is time for us to start planning for the post-COVID-19 era.
Ironically, technological readiness is helping education to continue, while at the same time disrupting it by forcing us to execute plans that previously lay in the distant future. It has created an opportunity that the current generation has long-awaited, which is to transition from traditional to digital education comprehensively and effectively. This disruption required the reformation of the education system into a hybrid model, combining traditional classroom education with remote learning. So, why is a hybrid method so vital and how can we make it the new normal?
The hybrid education system is the product of a successful transition to remote learning, particularly for higher and university education. Among its byproducts is the transition of academic faculties into ‘digital teachers’, while providing public and private schools and universities the opportunity to reassess and develop their technological capabilities.
Looking to the future, we expect educational institutions to apply this hybrid learning model through 5 methods:
1- Following an assessment of the ratio of theoretical to practical content for each subject, decreasing attendance of students to campus, particularly for theoretical studies. This will allow more students to be accepted as building capacity is no longer an issue.
2- Redesigning educational buildings in favor of practical learning, giving more space for training and laboratories.
3- Directing students towards innovation and entrepreneurship, key areas that will help us to face future challenges.
4- Reviewing programs and specializations to make them more in line with growth sectors and employment needs post-COVID-19, including health sciences, technologies related to food security and computer science, and applied information and research.
5- Attracting experts and remote education specialists from all over the world, particularly for specialized fields, without incurring the cost of having them travel into the country.
This positive disruption brought about by the hybrid model will transform education, enhancing efficiency, and improving quality as a result. It will also help control spending and ensure that financial, human, and administrative resources are used more efficiently. Most importantly, it will create competition between educational institutions, benefiting our students with a wide range of options that make learning more fun and less expensive.
This pandemic has demonstrated how unpredictable life is. To overcome the challenges of the future, we must start preparing today.
Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi
President and CEO