RewirEDX Education Conference: “We need to build models that deliver quality in learning but which are also engaging,” says Tariq Fancy, Founder and CEO, The Rumie Initiative

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World leaders in education, Ministers and officials, together with specialist NGOs met virtually on 15 and 16 December to help set in motion far-reaching changes to education in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

RewirEdX, a two-day virtual conference (taking place on 15th and 16th December), is a key staging-post on the road to long-term collective change in education whereby the lessons learned from COVID-19 can be rolled out universally. Chief amongst these is the vital importance of connectivity in underpinning effective distance learning and so making education accessible to all.

One session took place entitled, School closures and re-openings and the use of evidence in policy making. The session featured Mr. Tariq Fancy, Founder and CEO, The Rumie Initiative, a non-for-profit ed-tech based in Toronto, Canada.

Commenting on the session Mr Tariq Fancy said:

“Education technology can mean a lot of things to people, the worst examples I’ve seen are systems where they’ve taken a text book and digitised it into a PDF so now you can have this on your phone. Technically this counts as education technology, but in reality if young people can read a text book on their smartphone or watch a TikTok video, social media tends to win.

“In between a PDF textbook and what they want to do, there’s a lot of room to build models that deliver quality in learning but which are also engaging. So what we’ve done is that we’ve moved more towards micro-learning, and it’s both because if you learn in 5/6 minute snippets, recent data shows that there is an improvement of over 20% higher learning retention. But the other piece around it is that people will use this even more. The average social media session is 6.5 minutes on Instagram on your phone, but that adds up to 2.5 hours per day – sometimes more. So the idea is that there’s a lot of time but you have to give access in the way people want to use technology, it’s mobile first, it’s short snippets of time for when people have a few minutes. I think those parts are the pieces which are difficult but the more they can be mastered, the more that it’s easy to build a technology solution which is as engaging as the competition.

A further session took place around “The future of the workplace – what we’ve learnt as a result of COVID-19”. Commenting on this session, Mr. Blair Sheppard, Global Leader for Strategy and Leadership, PWC, said:

“Universities have to repair the inaccessibility for those who are not well off. Education has exacerbated prosperity. It’s got to fix that problem. They’ve gotten prohibitively expensive and therefore inaccessible to a lot of people. And actually, they’ve lost innovation as a result. They’ve got to go way faster than adjusting the curriculum because the world is moving faster. An example we have is that a lot of people who can tell us what’s wrong with it. We have very few people who can help us fix it and we need it immediately.”

“We need certain kinds of technology, and rightly so, to repair the curriculum and change the rate of curriculum. We need to accelerate the degree of the availability across the lifespan, because when people are losing jobs in their 50s, they need to be retooled and brought back to work. And so think about this across the entire course of life, including retirement. And then the final one is actually rethink the core assumptions that cause the problems the world is grappling with at the heart of what they do. And if you say so, what’s the role of business?

“I think we serve a role in all those things, we need to help them get more efficient and therefore less expensive. We need to link to them so that we ensure that we have the curriculum we need related. The point was made to ensure that they actually help us deal with people who are losing work at later stages and actually manage the bridge. And the final one is to drive a rethink of the core ideas so that actually they’re adapting to the 21st century.”