Investing more than $1 billion on education, Intel, the world’s leading manufacturer of microprocessors is developing 21st century learning and teaching skills in the hope of generating future technology leaders. The IT private sector which is on the receiving end of acquired know-how is now delivering educational solutions of its own.
Before any microprocessors were ever invented, the human brain was the sole Central Processing Unit, holding within it the world’s computing records. Arguably, it still does. But in our haste to develop ever faster chips to manage information, mankind may have neglected its own gray matter’s capacity to calculate and process, voluntarily delegating these functions to sophisticated, yet man-made hardware. Using ICT (Information and Communications Technology) as a tool, Intel – the world’s leading manufacturer of microprocessors – has reinstated the brain’s rightful place in the computing world as both a processor of information into pioneering ideas and the dream weaver of the world’s innovative solutions.
With a truly global outreach program, Intel has since inception set out on a mission to make a difference, spending more than $1 billion on an ambitious education agenda that integrates ICT in the classroom and works on the professional development of teachers and students. While philanthropy and social corporate responsibility are the main drivers behind many of Intel’s initiatives, the company has a vested interest in developing a technologically savvy society. “Intel is aiming towards a knowledge based economy by helping educators and governments develop 21st century skills for teaching and learning, enabling us to generate future technology leaders and hire out reliable engineers within our organization,” said Samir Al Shamma, General Manager of Intel in the Gulf Countries.
Having reached three million teachers worldwide and aiming for 10 million teachers by 2010, Intel’s biggest initiative is ‘Intel Teach to the Future’ which by this year’s end would have benefited some 300,000 teachers regionally. “Our research has shown that many of the schools had computer labs which were just collecting dust. We also discovered that the kids were not afraid of the technology but the teachers were not properly exposed to it,” Al Shamma said. Basic computing such as using PowerPoint, Word and Excel programs are offered by many technology providers such as Microsoft and certifying agencies such as the International Computer Driving License (ICDL) -a global initiative with the objective of certifying essential Information Technology (IT) skills and promoting lifelong e-learning. Intel’s focus is to actually build on this knowledge. “We go beyond the basics and show the educators how to teach children to be project-oriented using technology as a tool and gear it in their everyday lives,” Al Shamma said.
Khaled Adas, Intel’s Education manager in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries said that Intel is very unique at this level of professional development, where the integration of ICT comes in. “I don’t think there is a program in the market that comes close to what we do. It targets teachers who already have basic skills no matter where they learnt them from, and so we don’t teach technology per se, but rather how to plan, solve problems, think critically and collaborate,” Adas says. As part of acquiring 21st century skills, Intel is also applying a new educational strategy with students which consists of transferring project-based learning models using what the company calls “Thinking Tools”. These are resources for educators to support collaborative student- centered learning and are active learning places where students engage in robust discussions, pursue investigations, analyze complex information, and solve problems. “We help teachers play a facilitating learning activities and pose questions that take student thinking deeper,” Adas says. According to Al Shamma, if you are trying to bring students to be IT savvy while influencing teachers to become more project oriented, “the homework needs to be replaced by lots of projects. The same child’s horizons are expanded and he/she learns the same things we learned, without all the hassles of memorizing all that stuff,” Al Shamma says. But he warns that teachers have to change their ways of teaching. “Yes, I do believe that the teacher of the future will be very different from the teacher of bygone days. Instead of memorization, now they have to give us a challenge and let us go and find a solution to it.”
However, in reaching those goals, Intel still faces obstacles. According to Adas, the biggest of these are infrastructure and Internet connectivity, “hence part of our effort is to try to influence governments to integrate WiMAX (World Interoperability for Microwave Access).” WIMAX enables true broadband speeds over wireless networks through fixedapplications as in point-to-multipoint enabling broadband access to homes and businesses. WiMAX is also a key component of Intel’s broadband wireless strategy to deliver innovative mobile platforms for broadband Internet connectivity anytime, anywhere. “WiMAX is the Wi-Fi for a city block; you have an antenna and you can beam data up to 70 megabits and as far as 50 kilometers away, thus schools can have high broadband connectivity rather quickly especially those within 15-20 kilometers,” Al Shamma says. Intel visits several ministries of education in different regional countries to explain how effective WiMAX is and begins the process of helping these governments tackle key issues such as trying to leverage the investment in hardware and effectively use it.
Adas says the challenges boil down to:
1 Providing ICT access and connectivity to the students
2 Developing the right policies for the effective use of ICT
3 Developing goals and objectives of ICT use in education
4 Providing for professional development and evaluation
Professional development is providing teachers with the latest strategies in teaching. Intel has an entire team of PhD holders in many areas of specializations in education. “Intel is the largest micro processing manufacturer in the world and not an educational company, yet we use education to make a difference in society through technology,” Al Shamma says. Intel’s long-term strategy is to help an economy develop, which would indirectly help it and other IT companies in the field. Al Shamma claims though that visits to ministries are not aimed at having them buy more PCs. Adas says that e-learning is the highest level to achieve in educational strategy. “E-learning is one of the tools we think people need to have in their hands, but it’s not the goal of Intel. E-learning is a big trend and we hope that ministries would want to get there. It is in fact their goal.”
Intel® Learn Program is another initiative benefiting students. “We have a great curricula that can help students after hours and that’s through Intel Learn,” Adas says. Intel Computer Clubhouse Network offers after-school, technology-based teaching programs for youth. Incorporating the use of professional software and coupled with the support of a community of learners – including mentors and staff – an Intel Computer Clubhouse allows the creativity and expression of the students’ own ideas and interests to be channeled into computer-based projects. Students could go into computer clubs and learn about finding information quickly and efficiently through research. Students apply this newly-found information into new areas of problem solving, enabling them to think professionally and become decision makers. Intel Learn encourages students to collaborate and communicate results with each other allowing them to publish their results online. The Intel Teach Program and Intel Learn Program are part of Intel’s Digital Transformation Initiative which is a comprehensive, multi-year program that will expand Intel’s economic, educational and technology-related support throughout the Middle East.
In all their endeavors, Intel works with local partners showing them how technology can support education. One local success story is a company in Saudi Arabia called Semanoor, which has developed software that took the complete K-12 curriculum and digitized it. “Anybody can digitize books, but then Semanoor developed software that allows teachers to actually add notes to that digital information,” Al Shamma says. Using multimedia, teachers are able to enrich the educational content, and then post it on the website for themselves. Other teachers and students could then interpret that lesson and add to it animation, etc. “It is very clear from the point of view of broadening one’s educational horizon through technology, one needs to have broadband access in addition to educational content,” Al Shamma added. Intel is also Arabizing an award winning portal called skoool.ie which was originally customized for the Irish education system. A collaboration between Intel Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and The Irish Times, skoool.ie was launched in February 2002 by Ireland’s Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern and has so far attracted 44,000 individual users. The portal which focuses on the second level school curricula provides valuable resources to help students prepare for their exams and also enables them to explore the wider world of education with their PC. “www.skoool.ie is creating courseware that compliments what kids learn in school and customizing it to other regions and aims to provide students, teachers and parents with highly innovative, interactive and exciting learning content and supporting materials,” Al Shamma says. Intel has also launched the new Arabic portal, http://www.intel.com/arabic/education, providing extensive information about Intel’s Education Excellence initiatives, success stories and news releases. “The website plays host to a forum where readers can get involved in Intel’s vast education initiatives and provides an interactive platform for teachers and students to exchange ideas on the latest education tools, curricula and teaching methods,” Intel education manager for Middle East Turkey and Africa Ferruh Gurtas says.
Intel was the first company to make programming intelligence into inanimate objects possible. By now giving brainpower processing back to humanity and allowing for integrated intelligence to be tested, decoded and shared, our learning potential is being unleashed with a little help from our technology friends.
Intel® Teach To The Future to bolster UAE Curriculum
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Intel takes education initiative to Lebanon
Intel® Corporation has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Lebanese Ministry of Education and the Hariri Foundation in June 2006 to develop its worldwide Intel Teach to the Future program in Lebanon. The three-year program, part of the Intel® Education initiative, aims to train 10,000 in-service teachers to enable them to develop higher level thinking skills and enhanced learning in their students through the integration of technology into day-to-day lessons.
Intel to set up its first state-of-the-art technology lab in Saudi Arabia
Intel Corporation announced in March 2006 it will open an innovative research facility in Saudi Arabia. As part of its Digital Transformation Initiative for the Middle East, the company will inaugurate the Intel Energy Competency Laboratory at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in Dhahran in May this year.
Intel launches multi-year- “Intel Digital Transformation Initiative for the Middle East
Intel announced in October 2005 the launch of the “Intel Digital Transformation Initiative for the Middle East,” a comprehensive, multi-year program that will expand Intel’s economic, educational and technology-related support throughout the region. Under this program, Intel will increase its investment in four key areas – local entrepreneurship, education, digital accessibility and specialized technical competencies – to help promote technology skills, knowledge transfer and jobs creation in the Middle East, Turkey and North Africa.
Three million teachers help students learn to develop 21st century skills
Intel announced in November 2005 a major milestone today in its worldwide effort to help students and teachers develop 21st century learning skills. Three million teachers have now completed training through Intel® Teach to the Future, a professional development program designed to help teachers effectively integrate technology with learning. Armed with strategies to develop digital literacy, creativity, higher-order thinking, communication and collaboration, these teachers are reaching tens of millions of students daily across the globe. Intel also announced expansion of the program into Nigeria through the New Partnership for African Development initiative, and to South Korea where the program will serve as the main component of the government’s professional development plans.
• Intel Teach to the Future in Jordan, Egypt and Turkey
This program trains teachers to integrate IT into their classroom teaching. It made its regional debut in 2003 (in Jordan and Turkey) and was launched in Egypt in 2004. Intel is currently in negotiations with the governments of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates to develop programs there.
• Intel Teach to the Future in Morocco
In March 2006, Intel and the Moroccan Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research and the National Telecommunication Regulatory Agency announced the launch of the Intel ® Teach to the Future program in Morocco, thus extending the program to the North African region.
• Intel Teach to the Future in Nigeria
Following the opening of its office in Lagos in April 2006, Intel is currently finalizing the details of the “Intel Teach to the Future” program in Nigeria. The opening of the office in Nigeria came as a testimony to Intel’s growing focus on West Africa. Other digital transformation initiatives in Nigeria include Intel’s work with the Ministry of Education in promoting the cause of integrating modern information and communication technologies into the country’s education strategies.
• Intel Learn in Egypt
Intel launched its Intel Learn program in Egypt in 2005. Intel Learn is an after-school, community-based program designed to teach technological literacy, problem solving and collaboration skills— essential skills for success in today’s knowledge economy. Created in collaboration with governments and non-governmental agencies, the program uses trained staff to guide learners 8 to 16-years-old through its engaging, structured curriculum. It is designed to meet the unique needs of emerging markets by delivering high quality, technology based education opportunities.
• WiMAX Connected School in Ghana
In April 2006, Intel announced the development and implementation of Africa’s first WiMAX connected school, to be located in Ghana, West Africa. The selected school for the pilot project, the Accra Girls Secondary School, will be set up as a full eLearning centre, with hardware, software, Internet connectivity and teacher training. WiMAX technology will be used to provide high-speed Internet access to the school.
Intel and Saudi MOE sign training agreement
Intel and the Saudi Ministry of Education said they will train more than 50,000 of the Kingdom’s teachers on the application of technology to improve classroom learning. Approximately 1.5 million students will benefit from the Intel® Teach Essentials program over the next 3 years.