Lessons Learned: Adapting the Education Sector to Changing Global Realities
Good afternoon and welcome, everyone. Thank you so much for being here. I'm Mallika Kapur. I'm the deputy global editor of Bloomberg Live and I am thrilled that you could be here.
I have to let you in on a secret because I'm part of the team organizing this event. When I saw the list of roundtables, I chose this topic. I gave myself first dibs because, to me, this was by far the most interesting topic. [chuckles] We are here to talk about education, right? I think we'll all agree that what's happened in the last two years is, look, the world has changed, right? As a result of that, the way we live and work, the way we work and play, the way we live, love, and learn has changed. We are here today to talk about the learning part. What do we need to do with our systems of education, the education sector at the moment so that we can better prepare this generation for the job market, which has also changed as a result of the turmoil we've seen in the world over the last two years? I know many of you have met already, but I'm going to do a quick round of introductions.
We have with us today, Dr. Asmaa Al Fadala, director of research and content development at WISE. Welcome. We have Dr. Khalid Al Horr, president, Community College of Qatar. Nice to have you with us.
Her Excellency, Dr. Sheikha Abdulla Al-Misnad, former president of Qatar University. Nice to meet you. Ibrahim AlSafadi, founder and CEO of Luminus Life+. Salah Khalil, founder and CEO of Macat International.
Martin Roeske, I hope I got that right, head of government affairs and public policy, Middle East and North Africa at Google. Constance Elizabeth Swaniker, founder and CEO, Accents & Arts, Ltd. and Design & Technology Institute.
Dr. Michael Trick, dean and CEO of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. Dr. Betty Vandenbosch, chief content officer at Coursera. I've got everyone, right? Great, so I wanted to begin by coming to you, Dr. Asmaa Al Fadala. In one of the pre-interviews and an email exchange we had, you said something very interesting. You talked about the difference between reform and transform. You said that the education system doesn't need reform.
What it needs is to transform. Could you share with the group what the difference is between reform and transform and why do you think we need transformation? Thank you for the question and for the invitation. I think, yes, there is a difference between reform and transformation because we live in a world with multiple crisis, either health, climate crisis, learning crisis, and access to quality education even before COVID. These convergent crises are shaping how we teach and what we teach and the skills needed for now and for the future. Based on these reasons, I think there is a growing global movement towards education transformation, a global consensus to prepare young people for the future, especially now with the SDG 2030 timeline and the pressure on this. We need a transformation agenda, not reform.
Because from my point of view, reform starts with the process and improve the system while transformation begins with values and mindset and change the purpose of the system. In addition, reform results in a better version of existing systems. Transformation results in different systems.
What do I mean by this? Giving the context I mentioned earlier that we need a system that prepares the students to thrive into uncertain future that they might face. We must focus on transformation and less on reform and incremental improvements and smaller projects that don't sustain and achieve the vision that they started. How to do that. Thinking about the practice, putting transformation into practice, I think, requires new ways of communication, thinking, and redesigning the role of teachers and learners.
This is the transformation, the innovation I believe in, and most of my research on that area because having the learners and the teachers at the center of what we teach and how we teach is so important. The danger of that, if we look at the last 30 years or more, the vast majority of educational reform efforts by government have misplaced their focus. They have focused broadly on superficial fixes, teacher training, assessment frameworks, curriculum. These are important and crucial, but these efforts missed the role of the learners. To conclude, I think to have a transformational agenda, we need to have learners' agency. To fix this problem of what we have now, we need to transform the purpose of the system, a system that allow or reflect what we know about cultivating learning and the learning sciences that allow these efforts to sustain.
Great, thank you very much. Dr. Al Horr, I want to come to you next. Talking about transformation, where would you like to see transformation? I'm just curious.
We talked about transforming. It means changing the role of teachers, of learners. What about the curriculum? Is that where you want to see transformation too? Where do you think we need to see the maximum transformation? Thank you for inviting me to participate in this session. Yes, I totally agree that transformation is needed and curriculum is one area of the transformation needed.
I'll give you an example. When COVID-19 strike, institution face the problem of-- or higher education or education institutions put in a situation where lockdown are imposed everywhere. Politician make the decisions, what is allowed to be done, what is not allowed to be done. Education institutions and higher education reacted quickly and adopted technologies. At that time, many of the institution has digital transformation within their agenda, within their strategies. Some of them planned to have it over two years, some over three years, one after one year, and then find themselves that they need to apply it in three days or four days, and they were able to do it.
Being able to do it doesn't mean that they did it right. They adopted technologies, but they didn't have enough improvement, transformation to the curriculum to utilize those technologies. It is not the same to convey the same curriculum, which been designed for face-to-face teaching or by a video conferencing tool. Now, to assess the same learning outcome, that is designed to be assessed in certain tools in a classroom, to be assessed over the video conferencing.
Yes, an institution we're able to adopt technologies, but that doesn't really meet the necessary transformation and the curriculum to meet using those technologies. This is one area and I use the example of COVID-19 for it. The other area is the applications.
Been ages now and decades, educators talk about more applications within curriculums. That being said, they are very limited "wow" examples about applied education. Even when they talk about programming without all the theoretical background of learning how to program or something, that is maybe reflected in training courses, but not in university education. University is still heavy of the theory and theoretical knowledge. Those two areas, transforming the curriculum to fully utilize the technological advancements and online education is one of them. The other one is transformation within curriculum to have real applications within education.
Thank you very much. Your Excellency, Dr. Sheikha Abdulla Al-Misnad, I want to come to you next. As the former president of Qatar University, do you agree that a new model needs a new way of learning? When you reflect back on the last two and a half years, what would you say has been the biggest learning from the pandemic? I think I agree with my two colleague who just spoke before me. I think we need transformation.
I think technology is maybe one of those big agent for that transformation because we tried everything as Dr. Asmaa said. We've tried big reform, big changes, big investment. Unfortunately did not achieve the result we had hoped for.
Technology also come with its own challenges, although technology can improve access, can improve personal learning. It can improve also, maybe motivation hopefully among the student, make them more excited about their own learning. Also, at the same time, there are challenges, which we might talk about later on. Also, in our part of the world, I think one of the challenges we face is recruitment, especially when it comes to higher education, how to recruit the right faculty with the right equality. It's becoming difficult over time and even more difficult. Actually, when I was a president, I was thinking that if there is a system and there is already a system, technology is not new in higher education.
Technology has been there for decade. There is online courses and there is smoke and there is-- The only thing I think the pandemic was the reset moment for all university is just accelerated the trends, which is already have been undertaken, but the university find themselves they have to do it. They cannot just delay it and wait. It's thrown on them, which is good in a way because sometime human only learn in a crisis. When the time is good, maybe they don't learn. Anyway, I'll go back to the faculty recruitment.
I always thinking that one way to compensate for difficulty of recruiting the right equality of faculty is online learning. There are a lot of high-quality faculty in different discipline. If university agree with each other that there will be online courses of those faculty to student anywhere in the world, that will be one of the great benefit. Also, I agree with Dr. Al Horr in that it's not just buying technology.
It's not just buying the machine. I know technology company are eager to sell and I think they are the only industry who make profit during the pandemic. I think it's also about what type of technology you are ready for and what do you want this technology to achieve for you? Technology, as I said, it's come with own challenges. As Dr. Al Horr said, I think adopting technology mean adopting a new course design, even a new campus design, and workplace design. Technology is the future.
Regardless, if you like it, if you don't like it, it's good if it's bad, but it's going to happen and it's going to happen. All university and education institution should be ready, ready how to adopt for their own aims and for their own objective. Thank you. Thank you. Dr. Trick, how did you adapt? Of course, all of us switched to online working, online studying. The whole world moved online.
Just how did Carnegie Mellon adapt? Yes, thank you very much. Like every university, practically worldwide, we had to adapt very, very quickly. In fact, when I had a faculty meeting on a particular day saying, "Yes, I think we're going to be okay for the whole semester," that faculty meeting ended at 1:00 PM.
At 1:05, we got word from the ministry. We were closing the next day. We had our faculty.
Now, we had known this was coming. Faculty took two days to get themselves reset and we started. The thing that we did, and I think practically every university around the world did, is we got it done. Okay, the students did get through the courses. I'll agree with my colleague, who might not have got it done perfectly and, certainly, given the diversity of 55 faculty in my case. Some did it better, some did it worse.
That's the way it is in all their courses anyway, but some adapted better. We were able to get every course done. The thing that I think we lost, and I think this gets to part of the concept of transformation, is all the other stuff that goes into a university education. Now, I do think that if somebody gets a computer science degree from Carnegie Mellon that there are certain skills that they are going to be meeting.
This cannot be solely learner-driven. When my colleague from Google wants to hire a software engineer, they'd like to know that they know something about data structures or some aspect of that. That is such a small part of what a university education gives. Can they work in groups? Can they be resilient? Can they communicate well? Can they write well? All of these things are not based on a particular course. It's harder to get that there because we didn't have a whole checklist of what we were aiming for.
It just happened naturally. As we then transformed, as we had to move to a different technology, then the question, have we lost that part? Well, what did we need? I think this is going to lead to transformations like micro-credentialing, whereby we do actually explicitly list things that might come out of a program. That might not be part of a particular skill or set of courses.
I think that is where things are going to go. We just have to have a better view of what we expect from education, then you know the outcome of these courses. I think that's the most important thing we learned throughout all this is we can get the courses done, but what do we have to do to get the full education done? That's a really good point. The soft skills, the extra bits that come by, sitting next to somebody else in a classroom, that's really important. As you said, around the world, everybody sort of scrambled to move online, whether it's for business or in a classroom. Somebody who knows a lot more about online teaching and online education, of course, is Coursera.
Dr. Betty Vandenbosch, I want to come to you next. This complaint that people come up with around the world is, "Look, online education is great, but it's no substitute for the real thing. It's no substitute for being in a classroom." What are your views on that? In one way, you don't even have to ask me.
[laughter] How do you manage it? How do you balance it, the trade-offs, if you can talk about that? Of course, there are trade-offs. However, I think what the pandemic taught us is that not only has the nature of education evolved, but the nature of work has evolved. Remote work has become much more common than it ever was before. I'm now in an institution that anyone can work from-- not anywhere because there are laws, but anyone can work from anywhere that Coursera exists. The consequence of that is that knowing how to work remotely has become a key skill for many, many people.
The combination of remote work and online learning gives many more people across the globe the opportunity to work and learn from home. Particularly for women, being able to work and learn from home changes everything. Yes, there are some things that you may get from being face-to-face just as we're having a much better experience today than we would if this were just Zoom. There are other things that you get from online learning that really give priority to features of online.
Another thing that I think is really important to remember about online is that online does not privilege the loudest person in the room, whereas face-to-face, the person with the loudest voice, the person who's the most extroverted is usually the one that gets the most talked. They get taught more and they talk more. Having not the loudest person in the room but the most thoughtful person in the room get equal time changes the education for everyone. I think that's something that we just have to remember. Yes, there are advantages to face-to-face. There are also huge advantages to online.
Targeting the education that we provide online to those things that really are done just as well or better online changes education for everyone. It also enables folks to get their education from different purveyors of education. At Coursera, we work in a lot of coursework with Google. We have introductory professional certificates. Those certificates provide people with the skills they need for an entry-level position in a variety of digital fields.
Once they have that certificate-- some universities, not all yet. My objective is all universities, but some universities articulate that learning into their degree. That enables students to earn and learn at the same time, which is one of the biggest reasons why people don't get their education finished. They don't have enough money, but if they've got a job that in the United States would make $50,000 instead of $25,000, it changes everything. They can't stop with just a certificate.
They've got to go on to a degree. You raise really valid points, but I have to say listening to you, my brain is thinking, "Yes, it's given everybody the opportunity to work from home, to learn from home," but that's assuming that everybody has access to the internet, is assuming that multiple kids and families have access to multiple devices. We know that that's not the case in many parts of the world, right? There are still many parts of the world where the internet is a luxury. I am going to come to our friend in Google with that and the digital divide. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about that, what the responsibility is of tech companies to help with that so that, truly, everyone can work or learn from home and it's not a privilege. Thanks, Mallika, for that question and great to be with you all here today.
Yes, definitely, the digital divide has grown. I think as a result of the COVID pandemic, we found that learning online by necessity to some degree wasn't possible for everyone. I think we learned in the US alone, less than 40% of low-income families actually had the right remote learning environment at home.
Making that more accessible is definitely a key priority, I think, across both the private sector and companies like ours want to help with that as well as in the educational sector itself. It was very evident, I think, that in K to 12 as in higher education, schools and tertiary education institutions really weren't very well-prepared for when the pandemic hit. Some better than others clearly, but a lot of things go into preparing well. Part of that is to enable offline learning in a remote setting as well. I don't think any one company has the answer to how that is best done. There's an awful lot of experimentation going on, which is excellent.
We decided that part of what Google wants to do is to support startups and NGOs who work in the ed-tech space to experiment with that, and dedicated quite a lot of money to help globally on that issue. It's about providing resources like equipment, but it's also about providing the educational institutions themselves with the right infrastructure and preparation for the faculty or the educators themselves and how to use the tools properly because what we found is lecturers, professors went online. All they did was to effectively teach the same class they would have taught in a classroom and tried to do that using video conferencing, Zoom, or Google Meet, whatever system you want.
That isn't the same learning experience as you would have in a live classroom, but it also doesn't necessarily lead to the same learning outcomes. How to use the technology that's available in the most appropriate way, I think, is still a huge learning curve, both for individuals working in the sector as well as for institutions. Great, thank you. Ibrahim, I want to come to you next. You work with a lot of young people who do not perhaps have the same resources that students who attend other universities represented here do.
You work with a lot of refugees, refugee youth. Can you tell us a little bit about what you've seen and what your experience has been of working with them as they've tried to secure an online education and navigate the pandemic? Thank you. First of all, in 2015, I'm a drop-out from university. I'm the founder of Luminus.
In 2015, I realized that transformation is not going to work. We have to reinvent the education system. Go beyond transformation. Now, you're talking about a complete overhaul. How you do that, you build and you [?]. You build the new systems and you take that system, bringing people, adapt them into the new system.
This is what I believe. Since then, we started to prototype and test how we will reinvent the education system and how we can make it accessible and affordable at scale. To reinvent, we believe that we have to bring this comprehensive, holistic approach and bring multi-stakeholder together that they are aligned as an equity, as a service provider, as a donor, as a real estate developer, as a talent management, and make them all align in the goal. Each one of them, he will get his return investment and his social positive impact. Everyone is incentivized. Combining all, they will create a much bigger return investment and social positive impact.
That being said, the core is the learner for how we reward and incentivize the learners to have lifelong learning, how to learn, how to be wealth. I was so happy when I attended the WISE conference because I always said if they are mentally and physically well, we can help them how to learn. Finally, I have the evidence in that conference. We're blaming technology since 2016. We raised $100 million in Jordan from 33 international global dollar to deliver scholarship for the most vulnerable refugees and with our commitment to get them jobs.
When you talk about learner above age of 18, you have many challenges with the school, plus all of them are talented. For the personalization of the learner and how you're finding that bridging for each learner to meet his need, that is so important. Also, in the pandemic, I have provided internet to all my students and then they are not attending. We have the full solution. We've been almost ready and we deliver the best school in the whole Arab world and Africa and maybe one of the best in the globe. I monitor the data.
The learner are not attending. Why? I give them the internet because he give the internet for his brother. They share the internet, so I decided to share internet for the students and the learner and their families. That mean that they came back? Because they have access and then we created the war room. That war room find work as an agile and we fix solutions, computers.
Then when we have problem, we announce it. We find out many people are willing to participate to solve. With that, they don't have a place to study as you mentioned at home. There's no location for the physical space is so important too.
Absolutely, it is. Like you talked about earlier, you're also committed to giving students jobs. I want to move on to talking about the job market for a moment. Salah, I want to come to you next. What is it that you work with recruiters in assessing candidates for jobs? From your point of view, what can we do now to better prepare these students, young graduates, who've been through the pandemic for the jobs of the future? What is the job market looking like? What are those requirements now? Oh, thank you very much.
Well, this is probably the most interesting topic that one can discuss in education is this interplay between jobs, degrees, and skills. I agree, yes. I think everybody here agrees, right? For example, that question that you just asked is a very loaded question because there is a sort of assumption that we know what those jobs in the future are. A recent Harvard study showed that a significant part of jobs in the future will be unpredictable. The only thing we can predict about these jobs is that they will require different skills than the skills we currently have or we currently invest in.
That is a significant point just to raise before we start going into-- because you will get-- I mean, if you put people into great education, you would hope that you are building a human being, a good character, a good citizen, someone who can actually go outside and make a difference to other people's lives, right? The only problem when you're looking at this, you are trying to also improve their ability to eliminate bias, identify bias, and eliminate it so that the thinking is clear. It's not a biased way of doing it. However, when you put them out into the job market, as all organizations' primary function is the mobilization of bias.
This idea of education for employment, great as it may be, it has quite a bit of contradictions and oppositions and need to be handled very carefully. Now, there is a number of ways this debate can go. You could say, for example, if we don't know the jobs of the future, so what skills do we go for? That's exactly what I wrote down as a follow-up, which is just like, if you are telling me that we don't know what skills are required, well, what are we going to teach in our classrooms? Well, you see, because it follows like this. Jobs, skills, degrees, right? Whatever order you make it, you have to deal with the three problems. Essentially, the World Economic Forum has struggled for a very long time with this.
They have come up repeatedly with this idea of critical thinking being the main set of skills. About 50% of the top 10 skills that you have to develop is critical thinking skills. If you move away from the world of work, thought leadership, and go into the world of education, OECD, its new report measuring 175 systems of education in 175 countries is titled "Critical and Creative Thinking." It's the first time you actually get a conversion on a certain set of skills that can lead into countless jobs. When you say these are the jobs of the future, you're already making a bet that this job will survive, right? Those are the skills that I'm going to train you for this job, but if this job disappears, those skills are useless.
What you want to do is you want to train people for skills that are actually extremely versatile and open up tremendous opportunities to a very large number of jobs across sectors, across geographies. Those are the critical thinking skills. At Macat we have actually been spending 12 years in doing tremendous research with the University of Cambridge to define critical thinking skills as the component skills of problem-solving, analysis, creative thinking, interpretation, evaluation, and reasoning. We build a comprehensive framework that is now going to be adopted by OECD.
We are in a joint project with OECD to develop the next international instrument for measuring critical and creative thinking. With those two things combined, there is no guarantee that digital skills will not be required or space exploration skills or any other skills, but those skills are a safe bet. That's all what this is saying. They're a safe bet to have and if you want an additional insurance policy, then you have to go into learnability, so your ability to learn a certain set of skills very quickly. What does that require? Again, learning, a precondition for learning is critical thinking.
Yes, but along with critical thinking, what's really important is vocational training as well, isn't it? Elizabeth, I want to come to you next. I have to take a moment to say, if y'all, haven't seen Elizabeth's work as a sculptor, please check it out. It is the most beautiful work, but coming back to training for jobs. Constance, I'd love for you to weigh in and talk a little bit about the importance of technical and vocational training and how you see that playing into requirements for the job market. Thank you very much.
I think I've enjoyed listening to everybody. I agree with some of the things that you've all been saying. It's okay even if you didn't enjoy it, and if you disagree, that's fine too. I think the thing is when we talk about education from a global perspective, we seem to forget that Africa is a very young continent with tremendous opportunities.
At the same time, you have young people that are entering a job market where there are no jobs, but yet the tremendous opportunity that is also available. Now, for us, for a lot of countries, you're in the fourth sector. We are stuck in the second and the third sector. We haven't even begun our industrialization agenda but yet young people desperately need jobs. I also see Africa being the next factory of the world where those lots of conversations around disruptions to supply global chains. For a young market where labor is so cheap, how do we train our young people to be ready for the future of work where manufacturing companies are looking for new markets? How do we teach our young people to build things? Now, I'd like to go back to history that we were colonized by the British.
We were trained to be civil servants, white-collar jobs. We were not trained to build things and so our educational sector right from the start was all wrong. This was where when we talk about reinventing education and transforming education, it gives us the opportunities to start on a blank slate. How I got into education was to reinvent education myself.
Coming in from a space where as an artist I went to university and I totally didn't enjoy university. I just wanted to build things and so I ended up in a carpentry workshop learning how to build things. I set up a welding and fabrication workshop, ended up breaking into the market when Ghana was opening up.
There were all these international companies coming up, hotels, and an emerging market where people wanted nice things but we didn't have artisans who could build things at an international level. All the labor coming into Africa where we need a job were expats, Italian, Thailand, Chinese construction workers. I'm working on these sites alongside these expat workers and I'm thinking, "But we need jobs," and we're told, "Oh, you don't have the soft skills, the skills that industry is looking for." A few years ago I set up Design & Technology Institute to meet that market because education, that system, didn't train young people to work in factories and work on factory floors and everything was imported into Africa. That's when I realized that in reinventing education, how do we work with our policymakers who are not moving as fast as they should? How do we create agile educational systems where you are quickly moving with the times. This is when I realized that, okay, how do we build something that people can see that in reinvent education, sometimes you don't have to get it all right but you should be able to react and listen to your instincts that industry is looking for something so how do we match up? If it has to change every six months because industry says, "This is what we're looking for," how do you adapt very quickly? For me, Africa has the opportunity to leapfrog where we're starting on a blank slate, where we're a young population, and we have tremendous opportunity to start exporting labor to the rest of the world.
I sincerely don't want to see so much talent and you're thinking that because the educational system is all wrong, we're still producing and not utilizing the talent that we have. This is where for me creating, reinventing the educational system, how do you all look at opportunities of how you can learn from new educational systems? I think the thing about education, sometimes educators are the hardest to catch up. How do you unlearn and learn new ways of doing things? We don't have the answers, but it's okay in reinventing things to make mistakes, but quickly adapt and most importantly, are we asking young people, "Is this what you want?" Yes.
This is also very crucial that being very agile, focus on soft skills, and making sure that young people are also part of this new educational system as well. Thank you, Constance. Dr. Trick, I-- Yes, sure. We are reinventing the education system. We are investing $500 million. We have brownfield versus greenfield in technology.
We are reinventing the education system by focusing in the learner. How to reward him and incentivize him. What we are doing is we bring multisector approach, banking sectors, financial sector, aviation industry, and many other, hospitality.
How to produce outcome can be measured and verified and that verification have to be independent and the measurement have to be clear. In another hand, there is no journey there is goal. A learner, he move from here and he change his goal to other place.
The data and the outcome of the learner is belong to him for give freedom for we can use it to transfer it for him into employment outcome so he can get paid from Qatar Foundation part of his tuition because he get jobs or from Swiss Development Fund. If he stay in a job for one year and he been doing evidence mentally and physically one. Teacher is a standard curriculum at scale as an agile, it need special technology for we're working with a company that have developed working with Apple and Google and Disney to develop technology based in Blockchain and AI and automation the process and imagine the human interaction in the process and keep the teacher to do the core of his mind. The same time, everything is like the army. Everything is monitored and how we make the learners earning skills verify need to be renewed, incentivize.
All of that, it go to the employer that he know that this learner. We're sending the profiles of the learner to the employer without name, gender, nothing. We're coming close to the end. I'm going to jump in here because I have a couple of other points I really want to get into and that is, I think some themes that have come up is the old model isn't going to work.
The world has changed and we need a new model in our classrooms. Martin, according to you, what does the classroom of the future look like? That's a great question and one that's very hard to answer. One way of looking at it, if the classroom of the future looks a bit like the workplace of the future, that's one good match to look into. I think you mentioned workplace of the future is a lot of working from home, online learning would reflect that. We've since the pandemic moved on to the hybrid workplace where now the matching educatio n if you like, would be blended learning or hybrid learning. What does that mean in reality? I think the first part, it's not just about the instructional tools that you use i.e.
online learning is not just about I'm doing what I would be doing in the offline world but on the internet. It's in the instructional design of how you design the learning from the core app. I think some of you mentioned that you need to look at the curriculum transformation, what are the skillsets that lend themselves to working on your own in a self-paced environment? Which ones do you require socialization for? How important are the social skills and the soft skills as part of the overall learning environment? Some of these things only work offline, at least in our experience so far. As good as the tools are, we want to make sure we merge the two. The classroom of the future has to allow for both modalities at the same time.
That's what the workplace of the future does as well. We have the video piece for those who are remote and we have the in-person piece both in the workplace and in the learning environment. Coming to your example of the jobs of the future in places like Africa where you don't have all this infrastructure, how do we go about it there? Could the classroom of the future in an environment where you have a lot of restrictions look this way? I think the answer there is the right technologies for the right environment. You need to have low-cost offline modalities that people can work with.
You need to teach people skills that they can apply instantly to an employability setting so that they can earn while they're learning. The classroom of the future needs to provide for that opportunity to work and to learn at the same time. We've experimented a bit with that in areas for example in crisis areas around the world or areas where you don't have the same level of infrastructure. One of the things we learned is a great way to bring all these skills together is for example in application development.
If you look at people not as pure coders but as people developing real-world applications, there are a lot of skills that come together in one person. Not only do you have to learn some programming to do the basics of the application but then you have to think about your user. You have to think about the user interface. You have to think about how you're going to access a market. You're going to have to make pitches to investors.
You're going to have to act as an entrepreneur. You have to socialize with your customer and your audience. In one person, by focusing on particular types of applications, you can bring a lot of these different skills together even in a setting where you don't have a lot of infrastructure.
Sorry. Yes. I was just going to come to you next but in the meantime, I'm going to just a heads up that we are almost out of time but I was coming to you next anyways Dr. Trick. I'm going to, after this, come to each one of you and ask you to tell me in one or two sentences only, if you could transform one thing in the education sector what is it that you would like to see transform? Y'all can have a think about it but Dr. Trick, please. Thank you.
Just briefly, if I could just highlight a couple words Martin said. I think the phrase classroom of the future fundamentally gets itself on the wrong spot. It's not about the classroom. As soon as we can stop thinking of education as the classroom but instead you also use the word educational environment.
I think if you think about the educational environment of the future and recognize there's going to be tremendous diversity, there's going to be lots of different educational environments for learners to choose from, and that is going to be based on geography, economics, goals in their careers, and so on. If we concentrate on that and think about how do we make this the richest most forward-thinking direction and stop thinking of the classroom as the unit, I think we're all going to really start to do the transformation we've been talking about. Doctor. Actually, it's very interesting discussion and I learned so much today.
I like the idea of the right technology for the right environment but if I talk about our region, I think I'll go back to degree and skills. I think we need skill. We have thousands of degree but no skills because the whole environment was geared toward the paper not rather what you know.
When you talk about skills, what skills are you saying that we're lacking? As Salah was saying, critical thinking, problem, solving, working in a group, breeding, writing a piece without any mistake, taking initiative, being passionate. That's why also mental health is very important. I don't know our technology and mental health. All of these is skill. We have people with thousands of degree.
Also the other issue is, I think I don't want to take the time with the rest but I think this is the skill, we need somebody who can work anywhere and who can adapt to change in our setting. Basically it's a combination of soft skills, critical thinking, and technical skills. It's the skills you don't learn from a book. Did you want to jump in real quick, Betty? You can wait. Okay.
I do know we're out of time, but I'm going to push my luck. I'm going to push-- Three minutes. All right. I'm going to start with you here on this end of the table. If you could transform one thing, what's on the top of your list? I have to agree with my colleagues here, the skills. I'm just amazed how scientists can make machine learn and AI and machine learning and they learn a few things. Then you find [?] the graduate out of university with the same degree working in the same environment, only one of them or two or handful number of them are able to learn, adapt and excel and solve problems.
If scientists can make machine learn and adapt, they need to spend more time and redefining the learning to make people and human are able to do so. Elon Musk this morning was talking about the human robotics. We talked about-- You know what we talked about.
The Google robot who was so humanlike that we thought that was real. Constance, what is it that you would like to see transformed? I think for me, transformation coming from my environment would be, as you said, creating learning environments. I would like to see our factory floors and our environments that we come from become that learning environment. We come from an area where we need to kick-start our industrialization agenda, and so we have too many white-collar jobs.
Take the classroom to the factory floor. Teach them how to build things whilst they discover themselves within that environment. We never got a chance to come to this, but when we talked earlier, you would also like to see more women learn on the factory floor, right? Oh, yes, because women pay attention to detail. Heard that, everyone? Oh, yes.
Women pay attention to detail, and so specialized precision jobs would need the eye of a woman. Top of your wish list. Top of my wish list. I think the most important thing for me is to stop treating the learner as someone who needs someone to tell him what to do. What does that mean? Break that down. What does that mean?
I think you need to give power back, and that's a huge transformational revolution, if you like. You need to give power back to the learner. Today, if I want to learn something, I can go learn whatever I want. Why isn't 18-year-old--? You can go to Coursera and learn. You can go to Coursera or you can go to edX. I have a thousand ways of learning.
Why are you driving me in a single or-- If you look at any problem in the world, as soon as you hear a monocausal explanation, you should be suspicious. Everything is multi-causal, multidimensional, so we need to allow this. The other thing that I really hope that we just stress on critical thinking again, because it is the only way that you can actually augment artificial intelligence. The future economy will be powered by augmented intelligence, not just artificial intelligence.
You hold the phone, you become a cyborg. You let go of your phone, you become reliant on human intelligence. Critical thinking as part of your way going forward will help you become a better augmented intelligence in line with the new economy trend. Asmaa, you’re the one who started this whole idea about reform versus transform, what would you like to see transformed? I think investing in teacher learning is so important.
Investing their capacity to build their adaptive expertise. In research, we call it adaptive expertise, where they take the right decision in their context, in their classroom with their students. We use a method called embracing failure and the Agile methods where we encourage schools to start small, fail well, and learn fast. This is the method we need to inject in schools because we need to learn from business for example, and support failure and support learning from failure as well. My conclusion here, invest in teachers' learning.
Teachers' learning. Martin. I'm going to go with Salah's proposition. I think personalization and student-led learning is probably one of the areas where there's a huge potential to change the way the educational system works and it's less prescriptive curriculum, more nuggetized modularized learning, more abilities for students to create their own journeys, more sort of empowerment of the student to use tools, present their own work back to, in a one-to-one or one-to-many setting, not just absorb what is being thrown at them. This whole area of personalization, and there's, again, technology can be an aid to that in many ways, and the AI and ML that's going to start replacing certain tasks within jobs is also the part that can help with transforming the learning in that way. It's interesting how the two things, the interplay between technology and learning is going to continue to evolve in that way. Sure. Ibrahim.
First of all, we reinvent designing the school. If anyone wants to see it later, we have a full design of the new school how it look like. In another hand, the most important things is everything we produce is for the learners, is data, and we manage.
We manage him. He free them, and then we manage his outcome if he wants to use us. Finally, I want to tell you something. Today, I met a lady here, Syrian refugees. She study in my school and she come and tell me, "Good morning, Ibrahim. I came to the college and I study hospitality and I get the scholarship.
The college put me here in internship and they give me full-time job. Now still I'm studying in the college after one and a half years." She encouraged her brother to come back to education again. I saw my student in the WISE. Education, it will not be the way it is today, no matter what they do.
University, school, colleges, the talent. We need proper knowledge to ensure we don't have to give information anymore. It's a wasting time. We need to give the freedom and let that everyone is talented. We have to know how to coach him and direct him to be a better version for himself. More personalized coaching, -again it came up, or more personalized- -Then you own it, freedom.
learning plan. Yes. Betty, what about you? I'm very much in favor of personalized learning and personal development and growth. At the same time, reality is people need to be credentialed. I look to the interplay between education from industry for technical and other skills, plus education from universities for what they do best.
I have the hope, I don't know that this will ever come to pass, but I have the hope that we move away from the notion that if I didn't teach you, you can't possibly know it. If we could fix that, many of these problems would go away. That's a really good point.
Learn how to learn. It's not learning how to learn. It's preventing the sage on the stage from saying, -"Only I know how to teach you." -Can teach. That's what we've got to get away from. It's also a level of trust, right? Of course.
-We trust in some parts of our lives- -Society. but in other parts- -We don't. -We don't. We've got to move towards that to change education for the good of our learners and the good of society. Dr. Al-Misnad.
I think I have only one issue in my mind, actually, is how to assess the quality of online learning of all of its kind, because I think this is a major problem we have, and we notice it during the pandemic but will continue to be. At the end, I think human interaction is the best interaction in the world and nobody can replace that. This is where are we and this is where are we going in education? How to control the quality? How to know exactly.
Thank you. That's it. Dr. Trick. If I wanted to change one thing and move in the direction that I think many of us are talking about, my very first step, get rid of the idea of semesters, get rid of the idea of courses. Put things together in much more creative and interesting ways.
-What is that way? -What's it going to look like this way? Small credentials. The ability to take a short system from Google and say, "I now know how to do this," and to be part of a club and say, "Yes, I know leadership," and all of this coming together and at the end having a whole set of credentials not just I took 40 courses from Carnegie Mellon and they gave me a piece of paper. I'm afraid we're out of time. We are going to leave it here. I hope we can stay on a few minutes and chat even once the cameras have stopped rolling. Before that, I want to see a huge thank you to all of you for being here and for sharing your thoughts and your ideas.
I hope it has sparked some new ideas and some creative solutions perhaps. I hope you carry on the discussion not just here at the Qatar Economic Forum but even beyond that. Thank you again for your time.