DUBAI — The classroom as everyone knows it will change dramatically in the next few years, and a preview of things to come for students and teachers across the Middle East will be showcased at GESS Dubai.
Experts attending the region’s biggest education show say improved learnings are a competitive advantage for schools and make them a highly attractive place for students to learn.
“Recent developments in technology, featuring robot teaching assistants, for instance; or new learning formats all require an enabling infrastructure for the benefits to be fully harnessed both by the teachers and students,” said Matt Thompson, Project Director, Tarsus F&E LLC Middle East, organizers of GESS Dubai, which will provide a glimpse of what classrooms of the future will look like based on extensive research and advances in classroom design and infrastructure.
GESS Dubai has partnered with leading companies such as Intermetal and Office Inspirations in transforming assigned conference rooms to classrooms of the future set-ups, highlighting how the environment and infrastructure as well as technologies can positively impact a teacher’s or student’s performance.
“Actual set ups of reimagined classrooms will also enable our visitors to experience all these advances in classroom design that will increasingly be seen in pre-schools all the way to colleges and universities across the region. Decision-makers from private and public education institutions will have the perfect opportunity to see these design developments in real life and determine whether these are something that they can adapt to their learning environments,” added Thompson.
Although educators instinctively know that the design of a classroom impacts on the learning rates of pupils, it has been surprisingly difficult to prove, until a team of researchers at the University of Salford, Manchester headed by Professor Peter Barrett provided a provable link between the physical space and learning outcomes through a study that took eight years to complete.
Based on the results of the HEAD (Holistic Evidence and Design) Project clear evidence has been found that well-designed primary schools boost children’s academic performance in reading, writing and maths. Meanwhile, academic research done in the USA and Canada found that a classroom designed to be more flexible enhanced student creativity and increased their engagement and motivation.
Office Inspirations, one of the key leaders in providing the latest educational solutions in the UAE, developed an innovative learning environment at GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis in Dubai in collaboration with GEMS Education and Steelcase Education to improve learning outcomes by merging 12 classrooms into a “blended learning plaza”.
This space was designed for sharing and leveraging both vertical and horizontal surfaces and includes a conference area and corners where pupils can use computers to enhance their learning. Teachers are able to choose the space they feel is best suited for the exercise they want to perform, resulting in the highest level of attention and engagement. Furniture can be rearranged to suit lesson requirements. The concept prioritizes children’s learning environment.
Michael Gernon, CEO and Principal at the Academy: “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.”
Student Aaliyah Hyde, 17, likes the blended learning approach that provides both online and face-to-face classes. She said: “It is easier to do the work this way. We create our own timetables and work at our own pace.”
With educators looking to create classrooms that are more adaptable, collaborative and interactive, flexibility is key and therefore, selecting furniture that can support these initiatives is paramount. Intermetal’s flexible learning is made possible with its modular furniture collections that consists of a range of tables, seating options and furniture that can be arranged to the task at hand, attributing to developing the student’s interest and that provides a healthier and more collaborative environment in which to learn. The company will showcase how innovations in furniture design can help improve student engagement and performance.
Another international expert, Christian Eineder, Executive Director, International Business of Hohenloher, a German-based firm known for providing innovative equipment to educational institutions around the world, will introduce different concepts of flexible learning environments to education professionals in the Middle East as part of the Worlddidac Mini Conference at GESS Dubai.
Other notable speakers include Andrew Short of Furnware who will speak about Creating Flexible Learning Environments; and Fiona Carter, Early Excellence, whose talk will focus on creating carefully planned learning environments to support innovative thinking and independent learning. It will include case studies and action research from a current large-scale project with the MOE and explore successful strategies to foster increased levels of staff confidence and stimulation and challenge in the education of young children.
GESS Dubai, taking place on Fe. 27 to March 1, 2018 at the Sheikh Saeed Halls of the Dubai World Trade Centre, is free-to-attend for education professionals and the public who wish to see education innovation and advances from around the world in action through various workshops and sessions as well as exhibition showcases from over 550 leading global education-focused companies and brands. Registration can now be done online at www.gessdubai.com. — SG