Dubai: GEMS Education launched the Blended Learning Plaza, a facility that provides the latest technology in education, with the aim of facilitating collaborative, online and blended learning opportunities.
The Plaza, which is located at the GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis, will give students access to a range of digital devices and software tools that allow them to create and shape technologically based outcomes and learning experiences.
“We are providing a truly unique environment for our teachers and students not found in any other school. The work undertaken in the Plaza will impact across the GEMS network and help to support developments in all our schools,” said Michael Gernon, CEO and Principal at the Academy.
Teachers will also use the Plaza as the base for action-research programmes focused on improving pedagogy, self-directed learning, targeted intervention, and producing a range of online content.
Joseph Gent, Director of Digital Innovation at the school, said the plaza will show students that learning can take place anywhere, not just in classrooms. It also has a more practical and hands-on approach to teaching that a normal classroom might not provide.
He also said, as opposed to what many people might think, using these technologies can actually bring people together. “It actually promotes social interaction that cannot be offered in a normal classroom,” he said.
The Blended Learning Plaza also supports the school in being one of the seven schools in the world which are part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Open World Schools Pilot Programme.
This will enable the school to offer IB courses to non-IB partner schools and extend the reach and access of the IB Diploma to those who do not currently attend an IB school.
Student Aaliyah Hyde, 17, likes the blended learning approach that provides both online and face-to-face classes.
“It is easier to do the work this way. We create our own timetables and work at our own pace.”
Omar Bashir, 11, said having the teacher using the technology at the plaza to transfer knowledge is more fun than regular classrooms.
“It is better because we get to use all these technological tools. I like it better because I am a visual learner.”