Can we have education without teachers? How can we do more with less? Those are some of many educational questions being debated here in Doha at the 2013 World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE).
For the fifth year, the summit brings educators from all over the world to discuss the latest education topics. This year, the theme of the summit is “Reinventing education for life.”
WISE chairman, Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani, elaborated:
“With all the developments that are happening in education, the involvement online, heavy technology and then you have disturbance with education around the world. A lot of education systems are not able to deliver education on the normal ways that we want it because of civil wars and other conflicts,” he said.
“And that kind of topic is very close to Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser’s heart. So we thought it is about time to pause and think: are we doing the right thing in education?”
Qatar Foundation chairperson Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser delivered a strong message: education has to anticipate life needs and face challenges. She invited the world of education to come up with innovative solutions for those concerns.
Innovation and achievement in education is also celebrated through the WISE Prize for education. This year Vicky Colbert, founder of the ‘New School’, won the €360,000 prize in recognition of her model to provide equality in basic education in underprivileged schools across Colombia and beyond.
“I am sure she is going to continue to add to the success of the winners in the past, to show the world that those are ambassadors that can be looked up to and learnt from,” enthused bin Ali Al-Thani
More than 1,500 educators and policy makers from corporate sectors worldwide will be discussing how to bridge the gap between education and life.
The summit is not just about developments in the modern world, but also ongoing challenges, such as helping the hardest to reach children, and children in conflict zones who are prevented access to education.
A selection of debates, interactive workshops and a WISE book are presented during the summit which lasts for three days. Here are some of the ideas on offer:
John Mahaffie, Co-founder and principal of Leading Futurists LLC
“I do think Moocs (Massive Open Online Courses) are going to democratise higher education, and here is why: if you look at Moocs, not in the form they currently are, but as they evolve, improve and become more than just substituting a professor for a piece of technology.”
Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education
“Life is becoming very challenging, very complicated and very globalised. So what skills we need for the future are quite different from the skills we needed in the past.”
“Do we see the possibility of education without teachers? The answer is yes. Education can proceed with new kinds of teaching and self instruction – things that technology can bring.”
“Encourage young people to dare, to experiment and to be prepared to fail.”
But it’s not only experts that are invited to discuss the future of education. The learner’s voice is a WISE programme that brings young people from different countries together to have their say.
They can do this during the summit, and also through different activities designed for them by the initiative around the year.
“The number of learners is growing every year and they are getting more active,” said bin Ali Al-Thani. “We want to listen to what they really want. Are we being successful in delivering what is needed? Or are we failing? And if we are failing, what are the best ways to move forward with our education?”
We asked Chairman Al-Thani what had stood out for him this year:
“What we noticed, interestingly, was that there was a great geographic mix of the winners,” he replied.
“The number of applicants is increasing, and this year we had over 400 applicants. It makes it more difficult for us, the jury, to be able to make a selection only of six. We have been able, with our recognition, to shed a light on important projects around the world that can be used by others, or replicated by others, around the world.”
The summit also extends its activities beyond the doors of the Qatar National Convention Centre, with a special exhibition for the local public.
The WISE cultural programme “Play” invites people to explore the world of game based learning one of the latest trends in education.