We recently hosted some of the region’s most experienced educators from across Russia, the Middle East, Africa (RMEA) and Turkey at the first Teaching and Learning Conference (TLC) in Dubai. Over the three days of the conference we discussed the spectrum of challenges and opportunities facing the region’s educational institutions and recognised the importance for education to keep up with a rapidly changing world.
In his opening remarks, our Chairman, CEO and President Bill Ballhaus highlighted that “education is at an inflection point and must meet the needs of a brand new generation of learners and digital natives.” And during the Executive summit Solveig Nicklos, Dean of the Abu Dhabi School of Government, pointed out learning “learning is not anymore about students absorbing information like sponges. The focus is on creating curious, knowledge-seeking learners.”
I think these two reflections perfectly exemplify the discussions around teaching and learning that happened throughout the conference: how can we bring education in the hands of the students in a way that is meaningful to them? How can universities change their traditional approach and make education available 24/7 through an online adaptive platform accessible via web or with mobile devices? How can we use data to distil meaningful insights to inform better educational and institutional decisions?
Together we tried to address these and other questions and also explored possibilities and solutions. Having hosted more than 40 sessions, I believe all attendees had food for thought and ideas to bring back home. That’s why I would take the opportunity to thank our clients who shared their success stories and their experiences, as well as our executives and our product experts who shared their views and knowledge.
While considerable attention has been given to students and their learning needs, we did not forget that teaching and learning always go together. That’s why we need to arm teachers not only with the best technologies but also with the knowledge of how to use them in the most effective way. As Dr. Fahad AlShahrani, Director of eLearning Center at Royal Commission for Jubail suggested during the client panel “training is key: training on what technology does, training on how to use technology and training on how to innovate with technology.”
To this end, we hosted several sessions dedicated to our Blackboard Digital Teaching & Learning Series, a group of three certified professional development courses focused on Digital Teaching and Learning. We developed this program based on our deep expertise in the role of technology on learning and our unique insights on pedagogy and how people learn that come from serving more than 100 million users around the world. While the Blackboard Digital Teaching & Learning Series stemmed from specific needs expressed by the institutions in the Middle East, this program has been extremely well received by faculty and educators also outside the region and today we have hundreds of certified teachers around the world.
Beyond these unparalleled opportunities to share knowledge, insights and best practice, TLC gave us the opportunity to reaffirm our mission to be the best partner for you, our clients, and to support you in your efforts to drive student outcomes and meet your institutional goals. The strong momentum we see in RMEA, the number of people attending TLC in Dubai, and the two new partnerships with the Abu Dhabi School of Government and the Batterjee Medical College we announced at the conference further testify to our commitment to the region.
We are not just a technology provider; we’re an education technology company. And I am thrilled about what the future holds for our partnerships and the innovation we will bring to your students and teachers.