Using edtech to develop the voice of the next generation

“Edtech platforms that enable young people to collaborate and share their opinions and ideas hold immense potential in facilitating student development”

In June, Qatar Foundation’s LEAPS 2022 Summit saw education experts from around the world come together to share insight on future-proofing and progressing education by disrupting traditional learning methods. Through the focus of re-imaging education, conversations shed light on the need to prioritise teaching both creativity and kindness in lessons, not just traditional subject matters.

A key facilitator of this type of teaching is edtech, which provides platforms for students to develop their own voice and abilities, together with others in online communities.

Edtech as a tool for peer-to-peer learning in a global classroom

Edtech platforms that enable young people to collaborate and share their opinions and ideas hold immense potential in facilitating student development.

Platforms like Scratch, the world’s largest coding community for children, are prime examples of how peer-to-peer learning can be successful. Developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the platform encourages students of all ages to create their own interactive games and stories and share their voices with other students from around the globe in the form of animated storytelling. Through these types of learning methods, children can grow their own creative ability and receive constructive feedback from multiple peers all in one place.

International platforms like this also play an important social role, transcending geographical borders. In the case of Scratch, the platform not only enables students to share their computational thinking and problem-solving skillsets with each other, but to also share their experiences and diverse cultures through their work.

By selecting edtech programs that facilitate interaction, educators can ensure the learning opportunities for students extend beyond communicating with others in their school or country, to connecting with young people in the far-reaching corners of the globe. In this way, edtech can encourage a global education eco-system where learning is not confined to the four walls of the classroom. Each individual student has something to offer, and interactive online learning platforms provide the perfect opportunity for children to develop their interpersonal skills by teaching each other.

Edeech programs can also take this global ecosystem further by providing shared access to extensive resources. Platforms like EPIC! – an online reading platform of over 40,000 books – are key in providing students with easy access to materials: having a one-stop-shop for all education assets is essential for the new age of hybrid education we are seeing. As lines are blurred between the virtual and real classroom, creating an interactive hub online that can be accessed anywhere at any time transforms education – and ensures barriers to learning are addressed.

The future of edtech

Edtech has already seen widespread uptake. Looking back over the past decade, even before the accelerations of edtech adoption during Covid-19, the last decade witnessed a transition from traditional methods of teaching towards the integration of online, technology-driven solutions. These edtech solutions are now commonplace in daily learning practices. Indeed, with benefits ranging from facilitating global collaboration to developing the confidence of individual learners,  education programs today are arguably incomplete without some element of edtech integrated within them.

Looking forward, as we face the accelerating economic, social and climate challenges in the world today, it is imperative that the next generation of decision-makers are equipped with the ability to think cohesively and creatively to tackle unprecedented issues. Essential to this, is ensuring the younger generations are driven by a kind and considerate moral compass that allows them to listen to each other and take on recommendations with an open mind. Considering this, academic learning must become grounded in the development of well-rounded students that work together and support one-another – and edtech has a key role to play.

Learning management systems such as Google Classrooms will become increasingly useful, providing spaces for students to virtually communicate with peers and parents – sharing knowledge and information – and to work together to creatively find solutions to problems with innovative projects and ideas.

As we witness rapid advancements in technological developments, we’re already seeing the difference between virtuality and reality become less clear. Educators must look to expand their adoption of edtech to ensure students are equipped with the skills needed to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.

About the author: Mehdi is Director of Qatar Academy, Doha. Previously Executive Director, EDI – Learning and Innovation at Qatar Foundation.   

Mehdi graduated from Université des Sciences et de la Technologie Houari Boumediène in Algeria with a BSc. in Mathematics and later from University of Bath in the UK with an MA in International Education. Prior to joining Qatar Foundation, he held positions in International Baccalaureate (IB) schools in Egypt and Canada and was a Deputy Chief Examiner and workshop leader for the IB. Currently, Mehdi leads a team of experts in teacher professional learning, curriculum improvement, and developing school leadership capacity. He specializes in learning designs for adult learning and the development of systems to empower effective learning in pre-university education.