An initiative endorsed by the UAE Ministry of Education, ‘Smart Learning’ is orchestrated by an autonomous entity called TRA which owns the fund and manages the program’s delivery for at least the initial five years. The program aims to create a unique and new educational environment, and this entails the distribution of tablets for all students and the provision of all state schools with 4G high-speed networks. The initiative is part of the UAE Vision 2021 and will be introduced in four stages over five years.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) suffered from low educational ranks and needed to bridge the gap between teachers and students in the age of technology and mobile devices. This lead to the design and adoption of a strategic long-term vision for the education sector. The UAE has a vision to create a new learning environment in its schools to be introduced in four stages across five years. The ultimate goal is to develop 21st Century skills and build a truly knowledge-based society. The Smart Learning Program is a nationwide initiative, fully endorsed by the Ruler of Dubai. It will be rolled out to all 420 UAE public schools, ultimately reaching thousands of users.
ITWORX, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and expert in Microsoft education solutions, was selected by TRA to deploy its innovative solution and services to achieve the education goals of the Smart Learning Program (SLP).
ITWORX Education’s learning management system, the Connected Learning Gateway (CLG), was deployed as part of the SLP. With social learning at its core, CLG is designed to enhance the teaching process for teachers, make learning fun and insightful for K-12 students, and facilitate communication and collaboration between school administrators, teachers, students, and parents.
To support the one to one initiative of the SLP, two apps built for Windows 8 tablets are integrated with CLG to enhance communication, provide mobility, and ease the management of day-to-day activities. These apps support ‘anytime anywhere’ learning. StudyLIVE allows students to manage their courses, share documents with peers and teachers, and receive notifications of new assignments, posts and teacher notes. Similarly, TeachLIVE enables teachers to access their timetable information, courses, class members, colleagues, and lesson material for all classes.
AuthorKit and AuthorKit Reader, re-branded as Smart Author and Smart Reader under the SLP, are also key teacher and student tools in the solution. Smart Author is a desktop application that allows teachers to create interactive e-learning resources in a short time and at a reduced cost. Smart Reader is a Windows 8 mobile app that allows students to receive and review e-learning materials anytime and anywhere.
Smart Author is a great tool for teachers. With it, a teacher can easily and quickly create interactive e-learning resources – resources that are intriguing and engaging. These resources can be personalized to the style the teacher and students prefer. The teacher simply chooses from an array of content types, such as HTML5 interactive objects, YouTube videos, documents, presentations, images, videos, multimedia files, or audio narration. Furthermore, e-lesson content created using Smart Author can be exported to SCORM, empowering the assignment cycle through CLG.
For students, Smart Reader has four main advantages. Firstly, it comprehensively amalgamates content, self-assessments, lessons and questions of any type into one application, putting everything they need in one place. Secondly, it enables this content to be accessed anytime and anywhere, with no need for an Internet connection. Students can therefore study more effectively at home, for example. Thirdly, it enhances the student’s ability to communicate with their teacher on areas they don’t understand. A student simply reviews e-lessons in a standardized view (similar to e-book readers) then highlights, bookmarks or adds their comments to study effectively. Finally, they can also easily assess themselves by answering questions and viewing the correct answers.
Today, Phase 1 of the Smart Learning Program covers 123 schools, used by 12,112 students and 1,780 teachers.
Time and Effort Saving with State of the Art Tools
Smart Author enhances teachers’ effectiveness and overall productivity. It empowers teachers to do a better job and reach out to students with different learning styles. It enables teachers to prepare lessons through lesson planning functionalities and produces reusable learning objects, cutting preparation time. In this way, teachers are empowered to reflect their own ideas and methods and are freed to concentrate on the actual teaching and delivery of instruction to improve student outcomes.
For students, Smart Reader provides a mobile and central means for reviewing and studying e-learning material. Self-assessment also helps students to understand their own weaknesses and strengths leading to better learning paths.
Mobile apps for teachers and students mean that learning is no longer bound within the walls of the school, taking place in any location – home, bus, sporting club, etc. Mobility brings learning and teaching to life organically, building bridges between the learner and the mentor, and breaking the many chains of traditional learning that limit the individual growth of each and every student.
Smooth Roll Out of Nationwide One-to-One Initiative
Through the Smart Learning initiative, ITWORX Education enabled the UAE to transform traditional classrooms and learning to meet the economy’s future needs. ITWORX Education supported the UAE’s vision, of building a knowledge society and developing a workforce with 21st Century skills, by providing consultancy and adoption services to tackle change management issues, set long-term roll-out plans, and develop user (student, teacher, parent, and admins) engagement with the different tools and systems.
Transformation of the Educational Experience through Social Learning
ITWORX Education redefined the learning experience for teachers and students in state schools in the UAE. ITWORX Education products help students build 21st Century skills like digital-age literacy and enhance learning productivity through a learning management system that organizes learning workflows, enhances tracking and monitoring, and encourages learning collaboration. Smart Author and Reader are specially designed for the education sector, supporting curriculum standards.