Redefining Learning in the 21st Century

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Experts in education and learning participated in a conversation at the World Government Summit (WGS 2018), outlining the opportunities and challenges faced by governments to redefine the process of learning to the country’s advantage. Max Ventilla, entrepreneur and CEO of AltSchool, focused on the topic of education technology (EdTech), while psychologist and neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson outlined the importance of wellbeing as a life skill.

Summary of their talks: advancements in Education Technology (EdTech) and Emotional Intelligence are critical for learning in the 21st Century.

Max Ventilla on ‘Designing Personalized Learning & The Future of Education’

Ventilla’s presentation on ‘Designing Personalized Learning & The Future of Education’ highlighted how EdTech has opened a world of possibilities for the personalization of education to help meet the needs of individuals, thereby maximizing every student’s potential. Ventilla noted that the design continuum of personalized education will bring the benefits of a unique ecosystem that enables students to properly ‘experience’ their education.
He said: “We want to encourage the development of more engaged students who take responsibility for their education. Technology in terms of software needs to support and enhance what great teachers have been doing for a very long time, helping students understand how to learn effectively, not just engage in lessons. Because there is a digital representation in every child’s education, we use this information to make better predictions as to what would best help a child in their learning in different ways.”

He concluded with comments on how Dubai is trailblazing in the field of education: “Dubai is in a unique and advantageous position, being able to lead in the field of EdTech and, as such, setting an example to the world on how to create the best in education through effective use of technology for the benefit of its children.”
Max Ventilla was part of the founding team of Google+ and served as the Head of Personalization across Google products. He also founded Krypteian Systems (acquired in 2001) and the social search company Aardvark (acquired in 2010). Ventilla earned a bachelor’s degree in Math and Physics and an MBA from Yale University in the United States.

Dr. Richard Davidson on importance of wellbeing

The second speaker in the session, Dr. Richard Davidson highlighted the need to prepare children for a time of constant change using emotional resilience as an adaptation tool.

Davidson outlined how wellbeing is a critical life skill: “There are four main components of wellbeing – awareness, connection, insight and finally purpose. It is a combination of these factors that is essential to the wellbeing of individuals, and the substance of the success of modern day interactions. Data has shown how we are hard-wired to preferring kindness, cooperation and compassion over conflict. Each of us is born with a natural propensity for language and for kindness, but these skills need nurtured.”

He added: “There is real opportunity for governments and educators to embrace this concept, ensuring that these four components and qualities are maximized in order to best prepare a child for future and for learning. Educating for the future needs to focus on ways to help strengthen healthy minds.”

Known for his ground-breaking work studying emotion and the brain, Dr. Richard Davidson is founder and Director of the Center for Healthy Minds. He is also William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States. Dr. Davidson has published almost 400 scientific articles and co-authored the bestseller The Emotional Life of Your Brain with Sharon Begley. In 2006, TIME magazine included him among the 100 most influential people in the world.


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