Enhancing education channels

One year ago, Intel launched Pandemic Response Technology Initiative (PRTI), a $50 million commitment to use Intel resources to combat the effects of COVID-19 across three focus areas: healthcare, education, and economic recovery. Under this programme hundreds of initiatives and life-saving projects came to fruition, helping communities beat the virus, create treatments, and implement post-pandemic business/safety practices for a better tomorrow. Here Stuart Walker, Head of Education UK & Ireland at Intel Corporation explains how this initiative has impacted the education sector and role the channel has to play in enabling the education sector post pandemic.

As part of the PRTI initiative, communities expressed a desire to bolster the strained remote-learning education system and create solutions that allowed businesses to operate safely. Stuart Walker, Head of Education UK & Ireland at Intel Corporation explains more:

Please could you explain a bit more about Pandemic Response Technology Initiative (PRTI)?
In April 2020, Intel launched the Pandemic Response Technology Initiative (PRTI), a $50 million commitment to use technology to tackle the effects of COVID-19. The Initiative sought to provide a 360-degree view of the challenges ahead, focusing on how our technologies can enhance education, healthcare and the economic recovery of businesses at different levels. Our goals were to provide immediate relief where it was needed most, develop innovative solutions to support the new normal and invest in technology that would limit the impact of future crises. Nearly every piece of Intel technology was leveraged in some way. A year later, the scope of PRTI work includes 230 projects spread across 170 organisations.

Aligned with Intel’s RISE 2030 goals, we are transitioning this process and the technical expertise of our employee volunteers to the Intel RISE Technology Initiative (IRTI). The IRTI will continue to review and fund projects related to education, healthcare and the economy with new dedicated workstreams for social equity and human rights, accessibility, and climate action. IRTI will create a broader, purpose-driven platform for action with a new $20 million commitment.

How is Intel involved in supporting the education sector?
Intel works to support the education community in several ways. Our teams engage closely with our tech partners throughout the sector to support the evolving technology needs of Schools, Colleges and Universities, staff and students. This can take the form of commercial efforts to help provide technology solutions to address the changing demands, needs and expectations of the education space. However, a crucial part of this is taking into account the feedback and insight of those teachers, students and senior leaders that are often at the cutting edge of uncovering new and impactful ways to utilise tech in education.

What tech education projects is Intel involved in?
Technology, especially mobile and remote access has come into sharp focus over the last year as we’ve witnessed great collaboration across the industry to grow both technology access, online and hybrid teaching capabilities to help protect learning. Intel supported the Education Foundations Edtech50 Schools project which, back in 2019 aimed to recognise, celebrate and share inspiring examples of how tech is being used in the education space. The project highlighted how invaluable edtech has become in schools across the UK and Northern Ireland – showcasing how tech is being used to support teaching, reduce teacher workload, encourage collaboration across staff teams, knowledge consolidation, enhance creativity and broaden experiences across the curriculum.

Since then this initiative evolved into the creation of a senior leaders guide, which helped to serve as a blueprint to inform teachers and leaders at other schools in their efforts to identify, develop and implement their own digital strategies. As well as provide further guidance for those educational institutions who have already developed a digital approach and are looking to harness technology in new ways. It was put together by members of the education community who have been through their own digital transformation experience so are well placed to offer their advice and guidance to others.

For educators, navigating the shift to remote teaching and learning was unchartered territory and presented a whole host of new challenges. Although in development prior to the pandemic, the guide was designed to help schools direct their digital strategy by helping structure assessment, decision making, recommending technical standards and advising on partnerships. On top of this, helping schools understand how they can leverage technology in the most effective and efficient way possible to enhance the educational experience.

Where does Intel see the future of education headed in regards to tech and the uses of learning devices?
The workplace and skills landscape will continue to evolve, trends regarding the widely documented 4th industrial revolution will accelerate, and we’ll see the emergence and adoption of technology such as AI. This backdrop represents a challenging environment for Schools, Colleges and Universities as they work to provide students with the path of study and skillset to be best prepared as well as associated institutional technology strategy. The education sector is tasked with preparing young people for a job market with an almost universal demand for technology skills.

Skills and workplace readiness represents a further dynamic in an evolving landscape of impactful technology use for the sector. Intel has produced a range of resources named “Skills for innovation”, this takes the form of a combination of materials to help schools form plans to help with evolving skills and associated technology provision alongside a considerable set of teaching/CPD resources.

Intel has a long-standing history in this area, the “Intel Teach” programme launched in 2000 provided training support to over 15 million teachers globally. We have also developed a skills programme called AI for Youth developed as part of our global goal to help empower 30 million students globally with AI skills. The AI For Youth initiative already provides AI curriculum and resources to more than 100,000 high school and vocational students in 10 countries.

The four-stage learning journey includes an introductory ‘Inspire’ stage to establish some of the key concepts relating to AI. The ‘Acquire’ stage takes a more practical look at vital skills involved such as coding and data skills, while also addressing the social side by highlighting issues such as inclusion, bias and privacy. The ‘Experience’ stage will then enable students to take a deeper dive into AI skills and how they can be applied, through hands-on technical workshops. The final ‘Empower’ stage will see students creating social impact projects to demonstrate what they’ve learned.

It’s vital that we listen and work collaboratively with the edtech and teaching communities in the UK to help understand how and where these global programmes fit to be impactfully used in the UK. Particularly post-pandemic when priorities have shifted and more of a focus will be placed on developing skills that support a tech first environment. Initiatives like this will provide educators with the option to introduce their students to the world of AI and help prepare them for the workplace of the future.

What is the current state of the education sector in regards to the channel? How can the channel help the education sector more? What is needed?
The channel community has been involved in many of the areas discussed and has played an important role over the last year facilitating and providing technology access and Education provision to the community but also in long standing community engagement. Our teams work closely to support partners in the vitally important commercial and technical aspects of supporting the Education community. While also helping to bring together both the Tech and Education communities to foster collaboration in identifying and growing impact.

With the shift to hybrid learning the channel has a unique opportunity to seize. Understanding how the needs of teachers and pupils have changed in the last twelve months, identifying pain points and in response providing solutions, which work effectively regardless of environment will be vital going forward. As educators face challenged budgets, investing in both hardware and software solutions, which work for the long-term will be indispensable. The channel sector also has a vital role to ensure educators and students feel confident using any new technology by providing them with the right induction processes as well as ongoing guidance and support for any challenges that arise. As the education sector continues to undergo digital transformation, for it to be successful and for the potential of edtech to be fulfilled it will require a collaborative effort across industries.

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