HP to help schools and universities in Middle East create ‘virtual classrooms’

US tech company in joint initiative with education specialists to support distance learning in the region amid Covid-19 measures

The American PC maker HP’s BeOnline programme - a collaboration with Classera and Mirai Partners - includes providing a learning management system and IT consultancy services. (Photo courtesy HP)
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With schools and universities moving online as part of government measures to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, US technology company HP is aiming to support the landmark and rapid shift to distance learning with an offer to provide institutions with the necessary digital capabilities to keep teaching effectively during the crisis.

As of the start of April, more than 775 million school children have been affected by school closures around the world as a result of Covid-19.

Public and private schools and universities across the Middle East are conducting remote education as part of measures aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus. In the UAE for example, this will continue until the end of the academic year.

HP is offering to help schools and universities in the Middle East adapt as quickly as possible to distance learning requirements amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The American PC maker’s BeOnline programme - a collaboration with Classera and Mirai Partners - includes providing a learning management system and IT consultancy services.

These tools and services will be provided to institutions until the end of the academic year at no cost, HP said.

Silicon Valley company Classera and innovative education group Mirai will help HP create “virtual schools”. This involves developing digital lesson plans and assignments and online attendance and assessment functions. HP will also provide schools with its “LIFE program” which helps youngsters develop business and technical skills online.

Mathew Thomas, HP’s Middle East vice president and managing director, acknowledged the “severe disruption“ caused to families and educators amid the pandemic.

“This programme is designed to help schools and universities to quickly adopt distance learning. Today, technology can support new styles of learning. PCs and tools designed for education can offer students flexibility of time, place, and pace of learning, whether in or out of the classroom, or in a blend of environments. Technology can not only engage students and improve learning outcomes, but also help to equip them with the skills they need for the future,” he said.

Teachers and approximately 1.1 million pupils in the UAE had to make the switch in just two weeks.

An English teacher at a school in Abu Dhabi, told The National that a lack of preparation on how to give online lessons has been the biggest bane of every teacher.

“Online learning is exciting but overwhelming. I feel I have to work 24/7 to prepare interactive sessions. I try to flip the classroom and start discussions so pupils can share ideas and feel involved,” the grade 9 teacher said.

The disruption has led to the need for universities to come up with new and innovative methods of teaching their students.

"Our college has understood that we are in the midst of unprecedented times and are making the necessary adjustments," an undergraduate student of technology in Dubai told The National.

Mohammad Almadani, chief executive of Classera said “governments go above and beyond to minimise the disruption of the education sector that is currently being felt across many countries due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ensuring a smooth transition towards establishing a fully-fledged and effective distance learning environment. This [programme] will ensure students are continuing and progressing with their studies in this turbulent period.”

Christine Nasserghodsi, co-founder and managing partner of Mirai said "as online learning continues in most communities, ensuring that students advance in their learning progression during this period and beyond is paramount.”

The global EdTech market is expected to be worth $40 billion by 2022, according to Valustrat, a Dubai consultancy and advisory group.

Experts say that new guidelines, regulations and platforms will need to be created to accommodate the high demand for distance learning.

HP, which creates technology that makes “life better for everyone, everywhere” such as printers, PCs, mobile devices, solutions, and services, is committed to supporting the education of 100 million people globally by 2025.

Its other programmes include Classroom of the Future, HP Learning Studios, Digital School Awards amd HP Teaching Fellows.

For more information on BeOnline, please click here.

*This article has been paid for by the advertiser