Can you provide an overview of the college and where the institution is situated within Abu Dhabi's education ecosystem?
The college was established in 2007 to advance teacher training in Abu Dhabi. We wanted to graduate more teachers to fill a necessary gap in the system. We anticipate that our programs will be able to have an immediate positive impact on the system. For example, our post-graduate degree programs on guidance and counseling will prepare school counselors with the skills and tools to help direct students into the right career pathways that meet the job market needs. Counselors play a fundamental role in determining a student's pathway and help alleviate misconceptions that a scientific track is more difficult.
What are some of the most interesting technologies that you are exploring and deploying in the college?
Technology and education are closely linked. The most important thing is not the technology but how it is utilized to support learning in and outside the classroom. Our aim is to give teachers the right tools to support learning. We have been advocating changes and want to move in a more digitalized direction in regards to content delivery. This means integrating AI, VR, and AR into the learning experience. These tools now have support services that can equip teachers with an understanding of how to best deploy these technologies in the classroom. A portion of our new teacher training subject will be converted into different digitalization modes to support teachers. Additionally, we also want teachers and institutions to feel like they have the freedom to experiment with solutions. This advocates a more creative approach to learning.
What work do you do internationally to build best practices and develop knowledge exchange?
ECAE is involved in numerous discussions with national and international partnerships, some of which have materialized in a formal relationship and some are on the way. Notably, we have joint collaborative discussions with University College London, Vanderbilt University, National Institute of Education of Nanyang Technological University, and more local universities such as Khalifa University. Through these strategic partnerships, we are to develop together leadership and teacher training programs, content digitalization, and re- search collaborations that are focused on practice that is research informed.
How can we foster greater entrepreneurship in learning?
There is a great deal of potential for schools to support entrepreneurship; however, right now the support mechanism is not present. A great deal starts with leadership, which is why we are focused on developing our principals through intensive training. ECAE wants to help school leaders understand how to partner with their local communities. Teachers who are engaged are also crucial in this effort. However, the system has to be in place to support these people. One of our ideas is to establish an innovation center that will support creative ideas in the education field. This process will allow us to test the viability of ideas. Interestingly, we have already started discussions with some funds regarding this center. We view ourselves as an essential partner and contributor to the education field. I want us to become the leading educational transformation institute in the UAE and beyond.