Bandar Seri Begawan - The Minister of Education, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong, at the conclusion of his two-day visit to United Arab Emirates (UAE), yesterday paid a courtesy call to Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE's Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
According to a press statement, Pehin Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar was in the UAE to visit several educational institutions that have been selected by the UAE Ministry of Higher Education to showcase their recently launched Smart Learning Initiative, where in collaboration with Apple Inc, 14,000 iPads were distributed to staff and students for enhancing learning through technology. The minister also visited several campuses in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, including Zayed University and Higher Colleges of Technology.
The two-day visit started on November 17 in Dubai with an executive briefing by the Apple team and Zayed University team. The Brunei delegation was presented with case studies based on Zayed University-, as well as on the approaches undertaken by the teams in realising the initiative through the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge Framework, such as creating digital content and preparing educators in using them. One of the examples was the process of creating and publishing iBooks. Apart from that, the briefing also showcased several educational apps from a pool of more than 200,000 available. The briefing team that was led by Dr Larry Wilson, the Provost of Zayed University, who also briefed the delegation on what to expect and observe during visits to the institutions, emphasising on the use of iPads as an enabler for learning and interactivity.
The programme continued the following morning with a visit to the Higher Colleges of Technology Abu Dhabi Men's College, where the minister was able to .observe first-hand, the utilisation of iPads in several classrooms, in particular on how iPads are used in English language teaching. While there, Pehin Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar also visited the CERT Technology Park where several agencies and institutions have set up base to create a CERT Group of Companies as the commercial and research arm of HCT. The tour was facilitated by the Vice Chancellor of the college, Dr Tayeb A Kamali.
Following that, Pehin Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar visited the Higher Colleges of Technology Women's College, where the delegation was briefed by its Director, Dr Jace Hargis. In the meeting, Dr Jace Hargis stressed that the iPad is a mere enabler, what is most important is the ability for the users to innovate and improve learning by engaging learners through such platform. He reiterated the notion that the best method to train students and faculty members to use the iPad is by simply putting the iPads into their hands. He also emphasised the importance of continuous support for the staff through continuing professional development as well as celebrating early successes.
In the afternoon, the minister visited the recently-completed Zayed University Abu Dhabi, witnessing the use of iPads in an engaging lesson, as well as taking time touring the library, early childhood centre and common area within the institution.
The UAE visit ended with the courtesy call on Sheikh Nahyan. During the courtesy call, Pehin Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar shared his observations from his visits, and applauded the swift implementation of the initiative and attributed its growing success to the clear vision and foresight of Sheikh Nahyan in embarking on such a significant project for the betterment of education.
Pehin Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar shared with Sheikh Nahyan, the similarity in aspirations held by both countries and expressed his interests in monitoring the progress of the Smart Learning Initiative and in adopting several of its best practices. The minister noted that with UAE being a few steps ahead in the implementation process, it will be of significance to learn from the success stories and to adopt them to the context of the education system in Brunei.
The minister also took the opportunity to explore and discuss on other possible opportunities for future cooperation based on the mutual interests of both parties.
--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin