UAE company launches new digital education platform

The new digital learning platform has been 36 months in the making

Tags: Artifical intelligence
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UAE company launches new digital education platform All content is developed by Alef and can be used across various curricula.
By  Parinaaz Navdar Published  September 11, 2017

More than 240 Grade 6 students at a UAE Ministry of Education curriculum school have begun using a locally produced education technology solution called Alef.

The new digital learning platform, which has been 36 months in the making, is being touted as a complete end-to-end mainstream form of formal classroom-based academic learning. 

Alef uses hypermedia content powered by artificial intelligence, and its design adopts natural language processing, advanced data science, and technology-enhanced content to deliver a system that engages students and encourages self-learning. 

Alef's educational design uses concepts like thematic interdisciplinary learning - where children learn to make connections between different fields and subjects; experiential learning - which encourages learning through experience and experiment; customised remediation strategies - which respond to the individual abilities and knowledge level of each student; and metacognition - where a student is encouraged to understand their own thought process. This design is then powered by natural language processing, advanced data science and technology enhanced content to deliver a system that engages students and encourages self-learning.

All content is developed by Alef and can be used across various curricula, including UAE Ministry of Education, CBSE, IB, GCSE, and the American curriculum. Alef can support lessons across all subject areas, including Maths, Science, English, History, Islamic Studies, Geography and more. 

While Alef did not provide details on how many hours of content have been developed, chief technology officer Vikraman Poduval said in addition to content and videos, the platform also includes experiments and group-based tasks for students to undertake. 

Additionally, each lesson begins with a "hook video", which outlines the subject area or theme for the lesson. Following an explanation of the concept, students then answer technology enhanced questions that help determine their understanding of the subject. Based on the answers, the system then offers more reading material to explain the concept to students before another round of questions, followed by experiments and group tasks.

Teachers also receive real-time feedback on students' subject knowledge . 

Speaking at the launch event, Alef CEO Dr Saleh Al Hashemi said the new platform evolves the role of the teacher, shifting the process from the teacher-centred model to a learner-centred data-driven model. Alef gives teachers real-time feedback and allows for small group teaching, based on students' subject knowledge. 

"The role of the teacher is needed, however, it changes with this. This platform builds efficiency in the classroom... it takes care of 90% of the routine tasks that a teacher or instructor would do, and therefore it gives them the time to turn their attention to where the expertise is needed," he explained. 

Alef was implemented on a pilot group of students in Abu Dhabi for 12 months. Results showed an average increase of 27% on scoring in English language testing and an average increase of 78% on scoring in Maths testing within a seven-month period.

While the platform is currently being used by Grade 6 students, Alef is currently developing content for all grade levels from K-12, Poduval said.

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