Image Credit: Gulf News

Since the Smart Dubai agenda was launched in 2014, the city has seen many initiatives and technologies implemented with a view to improve everyday lives. Dubai is indeed making progress towards becoming a pioneering smart city. This year, the city has a major focus on the education sector.

Currently, only 52 per cent of UAE schools have fully integrated technology in classrooms such as the use of digital chalkboards, tablets, and cloud services. The Ministry of Education has developed the Education 2020 Strategy, which promotes the use of tech in schools with a view towards future employability. The UAE Government has also allocated 17.1 per cent of its 2018 federal budget towards education and higher education.

The need for transforming the education system was also highlighted by Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, at the 2018 World Government Summit, where he observed that the country needs a new system of education that looks to the future, focusing on competitiveness and economic requirements.

Changing the education system really means addressing the challenges for students, teachers as well as the administration. These three stakeholders have unique requirements and expectations from the educational organisation during their lifetime journey, in terms of what they experience, how they are equipped to perform better, and how all of this contributes to the overall competitive differentiation of the organisation itself.

The students’ journey

An engaging education experience for students is one that is agile, personalised and well-regulated, and that serves as a platform to transform every touchpoint during a student’s lifetime with the institution. The key factors that educational organisations focus on begin at the student admission and enrolment stage, continue through the interactive and practical study experience and the student data management process and protocols.

From when a family begins the search for a suitable education provider, the opportunities for differentiation commence. This activity is a source of data that the organisation can utilise at various stages to provide a customised and enjoyable experience, with minimal need for additional data gathering at various stages, all the way from admission to becoming an alumni.

Today’s students expect a learning experience that is commensurate to the digital world that they occupy, and learning models that infuse multimedia content and digitally-transformed content delivery modes. Online interaction and information access modes find more takers and better commercial success.

With the reams of data generated, the organisation is also under increased pressure to ensure better security, stricter access, improved processing models, and environment consciousness.

The teachers’ journey

Teachers look towards technology as an enabler of more engaging lessons and experiences, improved communication with external partners such as parents and peers, and better integration with administrative systems. The key areas of teachers’ responsibility and which can be differentiated through a technology injection are class delivery support and quality assurance.

Whether in terms of course planning for the term or the year, the handling of assignments during the academic programme, or the ability to interact with students, the guardians and the administration in an instant, multimedia manner, teachers can be supported with solutions that would serve to distinguish the educational offering from competition.

Teachers are the primary drivers of transformation, by delivering the quality experience. By adopting digital modes of instant communication, the administration and management gain full visibility, with constant data and intelligence updates to make business decisions.

Without shifting focus from their primary task — teaching — teachers can also create an environment that builds competitive differentiation, leading to the accreditations and regulatory recognition that allow for business growth.

The administrations’ journey

Educational administration departments rely on technology to improve archiving and record-keeping, to offer a customised experience to customers, and to seamlessly align with regulators, authorities, and their vision. The key to competitive differentiation in an educational context are efficiency and digitisation.

Efficient administrative processes are those that are optimised to control expenditure and provide a seamless and effective experience. By digitising processes, the administration is empowered with the abilities to effectively store, manage, and access student data, as well as those around human resources and financials, for regulatory purposes as well as for process optimisation.

The technology-enabled transformation of the education sector in the UAE is essential to maintaining the momentum of transforming Dubai into a smart city. For schools to be able to evolve with the growing demands of their key stakeholders and align with the smart city vision, it is essential to find the right smart solutions provider who can help address the challenges that are hindering their transformation to smart education providers.

Shadi Bakhour is Business Unit Director — B2B, Canon M.E.