Interviews

Digital Disconnect Won’t be an Issue if Appropriate Resources are Managed

Shakeeb Ahamed, the Business Development Manager for Commercial Products at ASUS Middle East, speaks about education during a pandemic and beyond

How has the pandemic affected the education sector in the region?
The impact of Covid-19 on Education has been observed around the world causing a paradigm shift in its framework and approach. Along with its disruption to traditional schooling, the pandemic has forced a restructure to the entire global education system offering a quick transition into the future. Some countries in the Middle East are equipped enough to make the needed turnaround swiftly, while others in the region do not have sufficient resources to manage an online education ecosystem for schooling children remotely.

What sort of opportunities do you see in the regional education sector?
The ongoing transition from direct to online education has brought in a lot of local government and corporate attention with some generous funding to develop the ecosystem in need.

Prominent GCC governments have extended their great support and funding to special aid programs devised for providing primary education to children in those deprived regions. Premier educational institutions are evaluating the best technology, infrastructure, and security to deliver better education remotely. Market and businesses are also corresponding to the change with increasing demand for computers across the region.

Is there a digital disconnect despite tech tools being available for distance education?
To everyone’s delight students and teachers across the world have swiftly adapted to the new norms of distance education. Because the internet has already become a significant presence, interconnecting everything in our daily life. Students and teachers nowadays have a better understanding of computers and technology.

I do not see a digital disconnect as a major challenge for distance education if appropriate tools, connectivity, and resources are managed. However, we can see practical limitations in certain aspects like conducting examinations or schooling which would eventually evolve as part of the new ecosystem.

STEM has risen as the go-to stream of education during the pandemic. What importance does STEM have in developing the skillsets of a student?
I would say STEM is gaining acceptance due to its integrated approach offering students to understand and practice Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics as mainstream starting from their elementary grade.

STEM moves beyond simple test performance but focuses more on developing the higher levels of thinking skills by connecting classroom learning to the real world. STEM emphasizes collaboration, communication, research, problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity. Skills that students need to be successful in today’s world regardless of specific interests or career goals.

Do you provide solutions today to make STEM learning a seamless experience?
Amidst all the technological advancements, a personal laptop has emerged to be the best fit for distance learning. Asus has a wide range of Chromebooks specifically designed for students and preferred by institutes adapting STEM approach to their curriculum, ensuring that the laptops and desktops are 100% compatible and optimized with Microsoft, Google, and other popular education applications best for the students and faculty members with the best-uninterrupted learning experiences.

ASUS also introduces G Suite for Education, a suite of tools designed to empower educators and students as they learn and innovate together. With G Suite, STEM learning can be seamless while switching between applications or enable teaching, learning, and working from anywhere with video capabilities that can support virtual classrooms and meetings—all without disrupting current workflows.

What about the security aspects of online learning? How can that be addressed?
Online learning systems have attracted the attention of cybercriminals which is a concerning aspect for individual users, institutions, and service providers. While the greater impact is probably still unknown, a common concern is a privacy, confidentiality, cyberbullying, phishing, and online predation.

Prevention at source is a thumb rule to mitigate such risks while we are still unaware of the apocalypse. One can secure their digital connectivity with a few basics in place like buying the right computer, using a licensed version of OS, having a basic internet security protection activated, and learning how to utilize the available security features. For instance, users can buy a computer offering key security features like Identity Protection, AI Security, or TPM.

ASUS Commercial notebooks and desktops are provided with all the security features above and with more advanced software/hardware encryption features. ExpertBook B9400 is the lightest 14-inch notebook weighing only 880 grams and offering 24-hour battery life. The device is equipped with an Intel vPro processor, face recognition, fingerprint sensor, AI protection, TPM, and security control at the BIOS level.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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