The Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating the shift to distance learning in the UAE, with massive potential for the nation to become a regional hub for education technology (EdTech), according to a new report.
The global EdTech market is expected to be worth $40 billion by 2022, according to Valustrat, a Dubai consultancy and advisory group.
Continued distance learning initiatives in the UAE after Covid-19 could help centralise some of this market potential locally, according to the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF).
“Had the crisis not occurred, this change might well have taken years of planning, prototyping and other steps before being implemented,” the DFF said in a statement.
“In effect, this phase could be seen as a pilot project.”
Regulators should use the experience to develop and improve platforms for distance learning, the foundation added, emphasising there was significant potential for instruction to become more personalised, focusing on the specific needs and interests of each student.
More than 775 million school children have been affected by school closures around the world as a result of Covid-19.
On March 22 in the UAE, distance learning began across all emirates and last week the decision was made to close all schools and universities through to the end of the academic year, affecting nearly 1.1 million pupils in the country's schools – and their parents.
To support them, the UAE’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has launched a new platform called 'In This Together', which is a new resource aimed at helping the education community take full advantage of online and distance learning.
During the Covid-19 outbreak, the DFF predicts that in the short-term, new guidelines, regulations and platforms will be created to accommodate the high demand for distance learning.
“It is already clear that education technology start-ups are benefiting as more and more students are moving towards online learning currently,” the report said.
As the world recovers from Covid-19, the DFF predicts regulatory bodies in education may begin setting up more ambitious overhauls of traditional schooling, developing innovative solutions such as training interested parents as teachers.
Officials said the believed that as out-of-classroom learning became more widespread, students and parents would become more involved in designing both learning tools and the teaching curricula.
The DFF has already published research on “life after Covid-19” as part of efforts to explore the future of work and learning, including the impact of physical distancing.
The intention is to help Dubai and the UAE better navigate and anticipate the future in light of the current global health pandemic, through highlighting opportunities and providing recommendations.