Microsoft celebrates MEA’s education innovators at E2 2020

A conference room with a collection of stalls and people browsing from E2 2019 in Paris

60 educators from the Middle East and Africa are on the Road2E2

Before learners arrive for their first day of school, these digital natives know their way around a smart device like the back of their hand. Forget building blocks, they’re already constructing worlds in computer programmes like Minecraft. Having teachers aware of and equipped to build on this knowledge is crucial to educating future-ready citizens.

Taking place in Sydney from 23 to 26 March, the Microsoft Education Exchange (E2) is the platform that brings these like-minded educators from all corners of the globe together to share their experiences, challenges and triumphs. Studies have shown us repeatedly how using technology in the classroom can lead to better reading, writing and comprehension scores among students. It’s with events like E2 that we want to encourage teachers to continue using tech to complement their lessons and celebrate the change makers who do.

Woman on a stage giving a talk
Carrie Patterson, Chief Operations Director of WE Charity, at E2 2019 in Paris

Your road2E2 MEA competition top problem solvers

Microsoft wanted to recognise those from the Middle East and Africa (MEA) who’d been able to integrate this technology into their classrooms with the your road2E2 MEA competition. In October last year, teachers were invited to enter a school project that used ICT devices and apps. Over 720 teachers in the region put up their hands and submitted detailed summaries of their projects. The judges then selected 40 winners for an all-expenses paid trip to Sydney for the duration of E2.

The work from MEA’s educators showed that there was some very deliberate thought put into their projects to achieve some important milestones for students. It’s projects by change makers like these that are going to make a major difference to our global future.

Your road2E2 MEA competition winner Yara Abdelrahman of Menese International School in Egypt, for example, chose to focus on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals that incorporates everything from climate change and health to women’s rights and food security. To highlight these issues using ICT tools, Yara brought experts into her classroom during a Skype-a-thon, got students to create presentations in Sway and used Microsoft Forms to conduct surveys.

The aptly named algebra submission, Project X, by Tayyaba Hassan of the International Islamic University Islamabad Schools in Pakistan was a popular choice among the judges. Tayyaba had her Grade 7 students use the Math Assistant function in OneNote to solve problems and as a further step to check their understanding, got them to explain how to solve manually in a 30-second video which was uploaded to Flipgrid.

Not wanting to stick to one subject, Taahirah Jaffer of Boston Primary School in South Africa created a cross-curricular project that saw her students engage with Geography, English, Mathematics and Natural Sciences and Technology over a full term. The students grappled with climate change and South African history with tasks being assigned and completed using Teams, Sway, Word, Flipgrid and Minecraft to name a few.

Headshot of a woman in a blue shirt, smiling
Taahirah Jaffer of Boston Primary School in South Africa

Naema Saeed Abdulla Al Habsi of Alhait School in the United Arab Emirates got her students talking to another geography teacher in Dubai using Skype. The discussion centred around the solar system and the differences and similarities between inner and outer planets.

Fadi Arnaout of Beirut Baptist School in Lebanon got his learners to investigate cultural differences. The judges picked this as a top entry because he shared the aims of the lesson with the class, had them upload their projects and assessed them all using Microsoft Teams. He also used Skype to connect his class with a Microsoft professional educator from Uganda who is a former child soldier to further drive home his cultural differences theme. Fadi didn’t stop there and introduced seven educators to the Microsoft Education Community and helped them to become MIE certified.

Sharifah Alrajhi of 1st Secondary School in Saudi Arabia forged ahead with introducing her school to a paperless and more ICT-geared environment. Through Teams, Sharifah was able to get parents communicating directly with teachers and tracking their children’s progress online. Teams also helped her retire the old practice of printed reports to reduce financial costs and environmental waste and create a virtual school for other teachers to give lessons from anywhere.

These six projects were among 40 winning projects from MEA and demonstrated how technology can be effectively used in the classroom to not only teach traditional subjects, but ICT skills too. Each of the winners took the time to see how best to integrate these tools into their lessons to take their students’ learning one step further.

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