The generation of today is inundated with information and data. Right from the time of their birth, to the time they begin schooling, to the time they finish college, they are constantly exposed to various types of filtered and unfiltered information at a rapid pace, which has become their reality.
While information is always a good source of knowledge, the new generation needs to learn what to do with such continuous free-flow of information, especially the simple self-analysis of when, why and how to handle data.
Parents do play a pivotal role in regulating this information and putting it in the right context for these youngsters. The school has started sharing much of this responsibility when the children are within their custody. Therefore, it became the schools duty to ensure that the deluge of information coming from various sources - especially the internet and traditional media like radio and television - is processed and interpreted correctly by the students. Not only that, students should be discerning to accept and possibly reject pieces of information on the basis of their merit and authenticity.
At our SMART Campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, smart learning is an ingrained part of the campus culture. We call it Qutuhal.
Introduced in the UAE in line with the mid-east countrys vision of innovation, Qutuhal is a creative, innovative and multidisciplinary initiative which nurtures the 4 Cs of education within a student - Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Critical Thinking. At Global Schools Foundation, we added two more Cs to this ensemble - Care and Culture.
Qutuhal was a product of realisation, as well as the necessity of the times. With the barrage of information making its way into the pockets of each student (where they keep their smartphones), it was essential that proper channeling of the data takes place so that the right parts are used cleverly for self-enhancement, and the not-so-right portions are shelved/discarded as required.
Qutuhal offers all students an exciting range of opportunities for creativity, collaboration, communication through workshops and competitions, while encouraging them to think out of the box but within the boundaries of culture and considerations of care. The aim is to nurture young minds to use the available data in a way that triggers the brain, and for the greater good of the community.
As a first step towards realising this goal, we integrated this programme into the regular school curriculum. This has helped our SMART Campuses in UAE to ensure that no child is left out of this programme. This has proved beneficial in visible ways - mainly the noticeable improvement in participation of girls in Qutuhal. This is contrary to the worldwide trend of low numbers of female students in programmes like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). A systematic effort to develop learning spaces inside the campus also meant that many more facilities and platforms were available for students to excel.
Under the aegis of our Global Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, we set up labs and studios like the Makers Lab and STEM and Robotics Lab - part of the Qutuhal Programme - which act as spaces where students can let their imaginations run free. In addition, special immersion spaces have been created where sufficient content is made available for students to explore in 3D, 4D, AR and VR format.
The curriculum ensures that many concepts are introduced within the classroom setting, but the students also get a chance to explore and find solutions to real life problems - either working solo or through collaboration. Our Ideation Walls - set up all over the campuses - act as platforms where weekly posers and problems are put up for students to find a solution to. These walls also act as a showcase to student ideas. This whole process involves critical thinking, discussions, debates, prototype creation, collaboration, basically the whole gamut of learning, that is both exciting and deeply satisfying for the participants and onlookers.
Such 21st century learning is essential to inculcate the essential life skills in students where they have the opportunity to learn as well as practise what they learn. Visits by industry experts, activities within Quality Circles and participation in Leadership Lectures further strengthen these activities, as do after-school activities such as Astronomy and Rocketry Club that reinforces the journey of the student as a lifelong learner.
Once a year, we celebrate the Month of Curiosity when the campus becomes a showcase of innovation, debates, discussions and projects, taking place between November and December. Parents are invited to drop by to witness the efforts of their children. Encouraged, students go on to participate in international events like Real World Challenges Convention, Leaps etc, as well as local competitions within UAE. Deserving students are awarded andrecognised appropriately.
Qutuhal has become a pride of GIIS UAE SMART Campuses, and we wait for the day when it will be recognised and embraced worldwide as a foundational requirement for the progress of every school-going child.