The QS Reimagine Education conference at Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi is considered the ultimate gathering for a global community of ‘Reimaginers’— university leaders, faculty and educators, innovators, investors, startups, employers, and policymakers, who are pioneering the transformation of education, including K12, higher education, business education and lifelong learning.
Rebecca White, Muinín Catalyst Sustainable STEAM Co-Lead (Curriculum Research & Delivery) attended the conference under her role as Learning Programme Advisor for
The Ocean Race. She pitched the Learning programme’s secondary school resource ‘Generation Ocean’, which took the Silver Award in the Sustainability Category.
This was also a great opportunity not only to share our Muinín Catalyst Sustainable STEAM (MCSS) work with colleagues and position them within a global 21st Century context, that is both the present and the future, but also engage insightful meaningful dialogue with peers internationally. As a qualified post-primary teacher and researcher, events such as these provoke reflection on our national education system and enable global comparisons as well as horizon scanning to consider the reform necessary if our system is to serve educators and learners appropriately. This edition of the conference sparked an engaging dialogue about the evolving landscape of education. The conference was a helpful way to shine light on the path toward a future that is undeniably hybrid and digital, emphasising the crucial need for a holistic approach to learning that goes beyond mere knowledge development.
Beyond Knowledge Development
One of the central themes echoing through the conference was the imperative to move beyond conventional knowledge development. In an era dominated by technological advancements, the focus shifted towards cultivating social skills in learners. The question that lingered was: ‘How can we ensure that the future generation possesses not only technical proficiency, but also the ability to navigate the complexities of human interaction in an increasingly digital world?’
Partnerships and Adaptability
The answer, according to conference delegates, lies in fostering partnerships and promoting adaptability within the educational ecosystem. Collaboration between educational institutions, industries, and communities emerged as a cornerstone for preparing learners for the challenges of the future. Education, it was argued, should be a dynamic process that constantly evolves to meet the changing demands of the world.
Soft Skills as Game Changers
The emphasis on soft skills emerged as a game-changing paradigm in the conference discussions. Delegates explored how critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity are becoming increasingly valuable in a landscape where automation and artificial intelligence are redefining traditional job roles.
A resounding call for a multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving permeated the conference atmosphere. Every question posed, it was asserted, should be met with a diverse set of perspectives, merging insights from various disciplines to create holistic and effective solutions.
Ensuring that learners are 'technology-proof' is vital. The conference challenged educators and institutions to equip learners not only with technical skills, but also with the ability to adapt to the ever-evolving technological landscape.
Trust, Impact, and Ethics
Trust and impact were identified as vital components of the educational journey. As education shapes future leaders and innovators, instilling ethical values and a sense of responsibility towards sustainability became a priority. The conference highlighted the need to prioritise sustainability, ethics, and values to create a socially conscious generation.
The Future of Learning
Acknowledging that the future belongs to self-directed learners, the conference pondered on survival strategies. Delegates explored innovative pedagogies and methodologies to nurture independent thinking and learning, transitioning from the 'sage on the stage' to embrace being a 'guide on the side'.
Thinking and Learning Culture
A cultural shift from a mere focus on teaching and learning to fostering a culture of thinking and learning was underscored. The importance of relevance in education was emphasised, stressing that ideas must constantly evolve to remain pertinent in the rapidly changing educational space.
The Reimagine Education conference at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi served as a catalyst for reshaping the educational narrative. By addressing the challenges and opportunities posed by the digital age, the conference laid the groundwork for a future where education is not only about acquiring knowledge but also about developing the skills, mindset, and values necessary for success in an ever-evolving world.
These conference takeaways are in line with our research findings (2017 - present), which has identified the needs of educators and learners in Ireland as well as developing solutions that integrate multiple literacies and move towards facilitating learning rather than teaching content. Additionally, our research has shown that integrating industry, academia, civic society and governance / eco-social justice into education at appropriate age levels is important to help learners not only adapt but apply their knowledge. As we re-imagine education, the journey towards a more holistic and adaptive learning environment begins, paving the way for a generation of learners who are not just knowledgeable but equipped to thrive in the complexities of the 21st century.
The Future is Now.
It is time to prepare today's students for today’s world.