On November 11, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, launched the Digital School to empower refugees and underserved students in particular. It will provide certified online education for needy students across the world.
This is the first comprehensive digital school established in the Arab region and will provide a personalised and flexible remote learning experience to students worldwide. The classes will be powered by cutting-edge technologies and Artificial Intelligence to help students enhance self-learning and skill development.
The initiative is part of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI). The Digital School aims to reach one million students in its first five years.
Speaking about the new initiative, Sheikh Mohammed said: “We aim to provide students, especially those living in refugee camps, war zones and disadvantaged communities, with the highest quality of education in the best way possible. Digital education is the future. We need to adapt to the rapidly changing educational sphere.”
The initiative’s implementation will be overseen by the ‘Alliance for the Future of Digital Learning’ which will bring together specialised education and technology experts from all over the world. The Alliance’s advisory board has experts from leading global universities including Harvard, Stanford, New York and MIT. Teachers will be selected based on their research, interpersonal, organisational and leadership skills, creativity, initiative and affinity for working with young people.
The Digital School will blend live and self-paced virtual classes in Math, Science, Arabic, Computer Studies and English powered by interactive simulation, game-based learning, and AI-driven adaptive learning modules. Virtual classrooms will enable students to interact with their teachers and fellow learners from all over the world. They can attain a globally recognised school certificate or credentials that will enable them to complete their university education or apply for jobs.
In its initial phase, the Digital School will operate from November 2020 to August 2021 with 20,000 participating students in four countries, featuring three virtual classes a week over three months. The system will be further developed based on feedback and an extensive research and development process. The Digital School will officially receive its first batch of students in September 2021 for the academic year 2021-2022.
The school will adopt an assessment system powered by AI and will seek digital learning accreditation from leading bodies such as Cognia, a non-profit organisation that accredits schools through the United States and internationally. It will coordinate with education ministries and relevant entities in the region to establish an accreditation model for digital education and provide curricula aligned with the national education system. The digital credentials provided will be globally transferrable.
The launch of the Digital School will support disadvantaged students at a time when the outbreak of COVID-19 has affected education throughout the world and forced a shift to online learning. Students in developing countries and remote areas took the biggest hit due to the lack of resources and learning alternatives provided to them.