• Sunday April 5th, 2020

Dubai Future Foundation Foresees the Future of Distant Learning

  • Global EdTech market is expected to reach US$40 billion in the UAE by 2022

Dubai Future Foundation has launched the second issue from a series of reports to tackle the different challenges that organizations in Dubai and the world will face once the COVID-19 global outbreak subsides. The series comes at a crucial time where public and private sector organizations need to be well-prepared for future opportunities and challenges.

Titled “Life After COVID-19: Education”, the second report highlights that the education sector is one that has been required to change rapidly in response to COVID-19. Schools and universities have been closed due to the pandemic and education institutions have been obliged to offer distance learning platforms to students. Globally, UNESCO reported that 776.7 million school children have been affected by school closures around the world as a result of COVID-19. Although some students are taking ‘breaks’ from schooling for the short term, others wish to continue their studies online so as to not affect their progression through school.

With many efforts being taken globally to ease the transition for students and parents, UNESCO has developed a web page with educational applications and platforms to help parents, teachers and schools make use of distance learning, while providing a degree of social care and interaction during the period of  schools being closed. Other platforms such as Coursera have offered to be freely available globally to any university affected by COVID-19.

Proactive UAE Initiatives

The UAE was one of the first countries to implement precautionary measurements to prevent the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. On an educational level, UAE suspended all schools and universities and organized sterilizing programs for academic institutions and transportation companies. The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has launched a new platform called “In This Together”, which is a new resource to help the education community take full advantage of online and distance learning.

EdTech Market to Reach $ 341 billion by 2025

The use of technologies in education dates back more than 21 years ago, and the subsequent creation of the Internet led to its use of distance education. Today, the education technology market continues to grow and its global size is expected to reach $ 341 billion by 2025. A range of excellent platforms for education are currently available self-study and distance learning via the Internet, such as Khan Academy (https://www.khanacademy.org) and Edrak (https://www.edraak.org), and Madrasa,  a leading e-learning platform (https://madrasa.org).  Madrasa, launched by the UAE in 2018, provides 5,000 video tutorials in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and more, available for free to over 50 million Arabic-speaking students.

Foreseeing and Preparing for the Change

With regards to education, the report states that the UAE had already been paving way for innovative methods of teaching and learning. With the impact that COVID-19 has had, this has required local authorities to take the first few steps into a future they had been planning to build more gradually. Academic institutions put all on-campus teaching activities on hold a month ago and have started to implement distance learning. Had the crisis not occurred, this change might well have taken years of planning, prototyping and other steps before being implemented. It is estimated that the global education technology market is expected to grow at 18% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach US$40 billion by 2022, according to Valustrat, middle east’s leading consultancy and advisory group.

The report states that governments have been seeking to use innovative methods to ensure seamless transitions to learning from home, in an effort to maintain normal routines for children. In effect, this phase could be seen as a pilot project as governments will be able to use this experience to develop and improve platforms for distance and life-long learning. As people are learning individually, systems are likely to become more personalized, focusing on the specific needs and interests of each student.

Future Outputs

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the report emphasizes that in the short-term, new guidelines, regulations and platforms will be created to accommodate the high demand for distance learning. It is already clear that education technology start-ups are benefiting as more and more students are moving towards online learning currently.  Post COVID-19, the report brings to light, regulatory bodies in education may begin setting up more transformative changes to traditional schooling, developing innovative solutions such as training parents as teachers, in order to change systems proactively, rather than reacting to unexpected circumstances. Additionally, as out-of-classroom learning becomes more widespread, students and parents will become more involved in designing both learning tools and the teaching curricula.

Last week, the Dubai Future Research, an initiative by the Dubai Future Foundation, issued a series of comprehensive and forward-looking reports and studies that tackles challenges arising from the emergence of the novel COVID-19. The series aims at introducing modern technologies to support key sectors in Dubai and the UAE to better navigate and anticipate the future in light of the current global health pandemic, through highlighting current opportunities and providing recommendations for the short and long term period.