At the fifth annual Global Education & Skills Forum (GESF), which ran from 18 – 19 March, 2017, a hotly contested debate occurred that led to the house voting for a motion related to the role of education technology in the classroom.
Dino Varkey, CEO at GEMS Education, who introduced and moderated the motion, highlighted figures from Fortune magazine that showed the spend of education technology globally will reach $19bn by 2019.
“While many sing praises of IT in classroom, recent evidence suggests tech’s impact in classrooms is limited, with OECED finding that access to IT does little to bridge the gap between the advantaged and the disadvantaged,” explained Varkey.
Similarly, Hames Cantenera, CEO & founder of TULA in the Philippines, highlighted that with the limited public funds in education, resources would be better placed for essentials first, rather than technology.
Cantenera went out to point out the state of educational facilities being poor, teachers earning low wages and the advancements in curricula being limited.
Offering a counter-point, Zaki Khoury, regional director, International Organisations – Microsoft, UAE, argued that students and their use of ICT devices has changed significantly in recent years.
“It is fundamental that in today’s technology revolution, we really need to leverage the assets we have and also use the opportunities to the maximum. There is no stop for innovation and we need to adapt for innovation,” commented Khoury.
“With the changes around us, can you believe that we can come to a conclusion based on emotion that are using same tools built on methods of learning created hundred years ago? Instead of choosing between education and technology, we must focus on education and technology.”
The final voting found favour with the motion that investments into fundamentals was more important than investment towards education technology.