Remote learning has quickly become an indispensable mode of education for our students, enabling them to continue their academic year uninterrupted during this crisis. However, we must recognize that this isn’t a temporary phenomenon associated with social distancing. Remote learning is a long-awaited opportunity for today’s generation to receive their education like all online services, not bound to a particular time or place.
Our success in implementing this shows that it wasn’t a spur of the moment decision, but the result of years of anticipation and preparation. Current circumstances merely sped up the process. Looking ahead to when we return to a semblance of normality, I believe that remote learning will become part of a hybrid model that includes traditional on-campus education.
Therefore, it is important to rethink how to prepare our already tech-savvy new generation for the challenges of this new era. In a previous column, I discussed a concept I called ‘Future Persona 4.0’, a formula to help prepare our students for the anticipated changes. Consisting of traits I deem to be essential for today’s students to thrive during the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the model consists of three components: the ‘Digital Persona’, the ‘Professional Persona’, and the ‘Entrepreneurship Persona’. Complementing each other, these elements combine to create the ‘person of the future’.
The key to successfully transitioning to remote learning lies within the students themselves, their level of acceptance of new digital tools, and their individual technical abilities. Some of these abilities can be gained through study, but most are a byproduct of students’ daily lives, including their personal research, curiosity, and interests. This ‘Digital Persona’, built through embracing these digital tools, empowers them with required skill sets to be globally competitive and educationally self-reliant.
Reinforcing this persona’s traits will create a generation that is prepared to face future career challenges. As educational institutions, it’s our responsibility to prepare students for the future and help them to gain the skills and talents needed to shine. Achieving this goal is key to realizing our nation’s ambitious vision of creating a new generation that is globally competitive.
Instilling the ‘Digital Persona’ identity in young people will create a generation of ‘professional learners’ that can utilize digital tools to continuously develop their skills and careers. The first step in this journey is to support investment in technology-related education fields, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, and smart applications that fuel students’ creativity and innovation. Doing so will create a brighter and more prosperous future for us all.
Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi
President and CEO