Tag Archives: Qatar

WISE Books: Third Book to be Published in 2014

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

WISE is the World Innovation Summit for Education, established 4 years ago by the Qatar Foundation, under the patronage of Her Highness Sheika Moza bint Nasser. WISE works to build the future of education through innovation on the basis of “creative thinking, debate and purposeful action.” The WISE web site is here:  http://www.wise-qatar.org/


WISE has produced two books to date, and a third is in development, for release during 2014. The books are designed to support and inspire innovation and best practices for 21st century education. The WISE Books are research-intensive, based on travel to a significant number of countries in order to examine educational initiatives, projects, and best practices around the world.

The third book in the series “will focus on the link between technology and learning and will investigate how the connected society is transforming learning.” We are all familiar with the rapid adoption of digital technology, and the increasing opportunities for collaboration and connectivity, eliminating barriers due to geography and also between disciplines.

This next book will be written by Graham Brown-Martin, who is the Founder of Education Design Labs. His blog is at http://learning-reimagined.com/ and will report on his travels to meet with educators and schools in Ghana, Lebanon, China, Singapore, Brazil, Jordan, Dubai, the U.K., India, Russia and the U.S. in support of the book’s development. Award-winning photographer Newsha Tavakolian will illustrate the book. Mr. Brown-Martin has an extensive career in the education technology and entertainment software industries, which places him in an ideal position to understand the best ways to engage children with technology for project-based learning, gamification in education, and other digital learning technologies.

You can find a very interesting interview with Mr. Brown-Martin regarding his views around 21st century education and his plans for the book here on the WISE web site: http://www.wise-qatar.org/technology-education. He wonders why “We continue to use technology to reinforce 19th century teaching practice.”

Curriki is here to help change that, to support the use of 21st century technology and 21st century practice in support of better learning outcomes and the rapidly evolving needs of students for an education relevant to our post-modern world.

I have been very pleased to attend WISE’s annual summits on behalf of Curriki. My report from last year’s event, themed “Collaborating for Change” is here: https://currikiblog.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/wise-2012-in-qatar-was-a-great-inspiration/.


Kim Jones (3rd from left) with colleagues from Mauritius, Canada and Malaysia

We at Curriki are looking forward to seeing the third book from WISE when it is released next year, and we encourage you to visit the WISE web site links above.

WISE 2012 in Qatar Was a Great Inspiration!

By Kim Jones, Curriki CEO

I returned to the beautiful country of Qatar this year to attend the WISE 2012 Summit. This year’s theme was “collaborating for change.” I was honored to meet so many impassioned educators and prominent leaders from around the world who gathered here to discuss and inspire innovation in education.

Kim Jones (3rd from left) with colleagues from Mauritius, Canada and Malaysia

Whether I met someone from Rwanda or Malaysia, I was excited to find that everyone knows, loves and uses Curriki. This was one of the most rewarding moments of my time at Curriki! It is immensely satisfying to know that we are changing people’s lives in positive and tangible ways.

New Education Initiative Announced by Sheikha Mozah  

While I was there, Sheikha Mozah spoke about “Education First,” which is designed to help drive the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) around education by the end of year 2015 so that all children receive primary education.  There are 60 million children around the world with no access to education.  Some live in conflict zones where going to school could be a matter of life or death.  Some live in areas afflicted by natural disasters like the flooding in Bangladesh.  Some are refugees.  Thousands of refugees are headed to Lebanon and Jordan to escape the civil war in Syria. In many cases, parents are leaving so their children can continue in school since it is not safe or possible in many towns in Syria.

Her Highness Sheikha Moza will partner with many global organizations around the world to help accomplish this goal.  Here at Curriki, we will continue to get the word out about our free resources that can be used in places where textbooks are not available.  Although many schools lack computers, the number of people gaining access to mobile devices is growing so although we will not be able to be accessed by everyone, if we can get to even a small number of teachers, we will be able to help some of the children!

One can survive 30 days without food, 3 days without water, 8 seconds without air, but not a second without hope.  Education equals hope.

Stay tuned, as I will tell you an amazing story about a man I met from South Sudan in my next post.

Farewell to Qatar!

By Kim Jones, Curriki executive director

My trip to Qatar has been amazing and inspiring! As I prepare to depart, here are a few interesting conclusions from WISE 2011:

1.  Education has to change. The skills children need in today’s world are extremely different than before.  It is no longer about memorization, but instead about knowing how to learn all the time.  Yes, there are certain skills that children need to know – how to read, do math, write, etc., but why memorize the presidents of the United States when that can be at your fingertips by simply searching the Internet?  Much more interesting is understanding how the country developed and the chain of events that occurred to get us to where we are – and having an opinion that can be shared in a discussion.

2. Teaching will transition to be more like coaching.  As we utilize technology tools to personalize learning, teachers will take on the role of coaching, not teaching per se.  But it’s critical to give them the tools they need and continued professional development.

3.  Children will become part of the learning process and contribute to the content and process.  This is already standard in Scandinavia where schools operate very differently from here. For example, there are no desks and chairs – one-to-one computing, and project-based learning are already standard.  And guess what?  They have some of the highest PISA scores.

4.  OER will become the norm.  We will no longer utilize a set curriculum as this does not address personalized learning.  Of course, for certain topics like math, lessons will be taught in a certain order as it logically builds, but children will continue to learn at different speeds.

5. Education requires political will from top down, and innovation needs to flourish from the bottom up.

6.  Having a highly educated population is key to the economy. Studies have shown that for every $1 spent, you get $15 back.  In developed countries like the UK and America, we spend about $100K per child, whereas in developing countries like parts of Asia, Latin America, and Africa these countries spend zero to $400 on a child in his or her lifetime.  This must change.

Gordon Brown spoke yesterday and he was fantastic. When I lived in the UK, he was the prime minister and I have never seen him speak with such passion and clarity!  I was so amazed, it was great, and he brought tears to my eyes as he related stories of specific children from countries around the world.

Almost half the world has little access to education.  We should all be proud knowing that the OER resources we are creating are having a huge impact on teachers and children outside the United States and it really is making a difference with the children and teachers who need it most!

Sheika Moza bint Nassar – A Passion for Education

By Kim Jones, Executive Director of Curriki

I’m writing to you from Qatar. Her Highness Sheika Moza bint Nassar, wife of the Emir (King), is the head of the Qatar foundation and the patron of the WISE conference that I’m attending. She has a strong passion for education.  Women here dress very conservatively, and most are completely covered.  The Sheika dresses in the long black abaya, but her face is not covered although her hair is.  She is very beautiful and when she travels to the Western world, she dresses in Western fashions and is now on all the” best dressed” lists.

Sheika Moza bint Nassar

Here at the WISE conference, there are 1,200 people from 120 different countries around the world.  One of things the Sheika is trying to do is to help the world reach the Millennium Development Goals around Education – to ensure that all children are able to complete a full course of primary education, and that gender disparities at all levels of education are eliminated.  This is a powerful driver that will not only help reduce poverty, but will also help with areas of conflict throughout the world.

Delivering high quality, innovative education to prepare students in developing and developed countries is critical.  Although differences can be great between the two, there are also many similarities and needs.  Both share common threads when it comes to making overall reforms:

  1. It takes political will.
  2. Education must be put on a pedestal – you want your best and brightest to want to teach and be well recognized for their efforts.
  3. Support and professional development is needed to help teachers explore innovative ways of helping children learn.
  4. Communicate often about the importance of education and its benefits.
  5. Establish solid measurements for learning outcomes.

The general consensus is reform must be top-down and bottoms-up.  To achieve bottoms-up, you have to empower teachers and students to try new things and to do things differently.  Personalized learning is key and we must have the right capacity building for teachers to enable this to happen at scale.

Interview with Dr. Barbara Kurshan, WISE Forum (Doha, Qatar)

Notes from the World Innovation Summit for Education (Qatar)

This week, Curriki’s Executive Director Bobbi Kurshan and I are in Doha, Qatar receiving the WISE Award for Innovation. This inaugural meeting of what will now be an annual event has brought together about 1000 thought leaders from five continents. Aimed at being a sort of Davos for education, the themes of the conference are “Pluralism, Sustainability and Innovation”.

The conference organizers have set up a booth for each of the six award winners where we’re each able to showcase the work our projects are doing and meet with a steady stream of conference attendees. Just like when I attend education conference back in the U.S., I’ve yet to get to a single conference sessions, because I’ve been busy meeting people and talking about how Curriki could be deployed in various regions of the world. My shirt pocket has a thick stack of business cards from an incredible gamut of education leaders, representing a virtual United Nations of interested potential partners. Specifically we’ve met leaders of non-profits from the UK and Paraguay; government officials from Thailand, the Philippines, Bahrain and Egypt; the founder and chief education officer of a wealthy and influential foundation in India; for-profit organizations from Malaysia and Jordan and reporters from Qatar, Hungary, Lebanon and the U.S. Come to think of it, we also met the Director of the Regional Bureau for Education in Africa for UNESCO who, along with her attaché expressed strong interested in using Curriki for a major teacher training effort in Senegal.  Turns out some of the folks we’re meeting here represent the actual United Nations.

Meetings like this are important to Curriki because they give our tiny organization that has essentially no marketing budget a platform to present to a who’s who of global policy makers.  The only way we can realize a vision of sharing open education resources around the world is to find partners who can take our platform and localize it, maintain it and drive usage. What comes next is the vital follow up. We don’t expect and frankly couldn’t handle it if each of the potential opportunities spawned a local Curriki instance. But like venture funding, you have to pitch a lot of deals if you want one or two to close.

I’ve long believed that in many respects, the need for a site like Curriki is far greater in the developing world than it is in the U.S.  After the award ceremony, I’ll pack up and head back on a 14 ½ hour flight back to NY. Based on the week we’ve had, I suspect I’ll have a whole new set of opportunities to rack up frequent flyer miles.

Peter Levy

Strategic Development