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Acer for Education offers a dynamic learning experience

Peter Lacey, Commercial Head Middle East for Acer speaks with Review Central about their latest education initiative and explains how Acer for Education is bringing change in the education sector in the region by offering a dynamic learning experience to both students and teachers.

How would you describe Acer for Education?
Acer for Education offers a dynamic learning experience allowing students and teachers to stay focused on their learning objectives. The program provides easy, reliable and affordable products, education-oriented software solutions and award-winning after-sales service. Acer for Education is committed to developing a digital learning environment that is safe, secure, well managed and content-rich. This is aimed at empowering students, allow them to think creatively and critically and will aid in developing the 21st Century Skills they need to thrive in a rapidly evolving global and technology-driven world. Through our unique offerings, we have become the leading supplier of educational solutions across the Middle East.

Which countries are part of this initiative in the region?
As Acer for Education is so adaptable, we are able to tailor-make custom solutions for each country within the Middle East (including Egypt). Countries within the region vary in terms of their demands. For example, schools within the UAE are looking at the device plus the whole Acer Ecosystem which includes our International Software Vendors in order to have seamless classroom experience, whereas schools in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia are looking for more rugged devices and curriculum solutions.

From a hardware perspective, we have the ability to customise desktops tailored to client’s needs across the region as well. Acer can preload a customer’s image at a factory, customise default BIOS settings, supply a clean OS image where required, install customers own system BIOS logo, do school logo engravings.

Furthermore, our strong international software partnerships allow us to accommodate specific software solutions to suit markets. In particular, Learning Management Systems and security requirements differ from country to country and Acer is able to custom fit the solution to the school, district, or ministry as per their specific requirements.

What are the key features of this initiative from Acer?
We are committed to providing a focused ecosystem to schools and universities around the region, offering the latest technology, educational content and resources. We have designed a series of devices and software specifically for educational purposes using all available innovative technologies.

A popular device choice for classrooms is our Acer Chromebooks. Within the range, we have products that are militarily certified, which means they can endure harsh conditions without any issues. In addition, they have been fitted with spill-resistant keyboards for up to 330ml of fluids (versus the industry standard of 30ml) to help withstand water damage. Apart from Chromebooks, the Spin series is another popular choice. As a convertible device that features 4 different modes, students can adjust the viewing mode to the activity (read in tablet mode, type in notebook mode, watch movies in tent mode). In addition, Spin series devices come with an Acer Active stylus, reimagining the traditional art and design classes. Locally, the stylus is particularly useful when it comes to Arabic lessons and practicing handwritten calligraphy.

Products aside, we have developed Acer Classroom Manager (ACM) a feature-rich software solution designed to make classroom management easier, allowing them to maximize the time spent on teaching. Amongst the numerous features of ACM, the software can switch on and log on to all computers in the classroom, save time by launching applications or websites simultaneously on all student’s computers, keep a record of attendance and a history of student activity, monitor what students are doing and check their progress as well as test their comprehension and understanding. Above all, ACM enables teachers to provide personalised teaching.

What benefits does it offer to schools and children respectively?
The Acer Innovative school program and Teachers Advisory Council offer schools and teachers direct access to best practices EMEA wide. These are followed by intercontinental school sharing programs that strive to connect students across the region. The ability to learn from each other and collaborate on projects that bring the world together.

In the first two years of the program, Acer for Education embraced 37 schools in 13 countries, hosting almost 80 teachers in the three Teachers Advisory Councils held in 2018 and 2019. The Councils offer engagement with schools across EMEA, intercontinental projects, access to demo devices and the ability to work with Acer’s Humanity project.

Outside of the Advisory Council, Acer works on Proof of Concept programs. Our aim is to continue the journey together by providing more value to the enrolled schools to support their digital transformation process.

How many schools does Acer work with under this initiative in UAE and in the region?
Acer has six innovative schools across Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Kuwait. There are well-advanced plans to launch the innovative school’s program in Lebanon and Jordan while Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are targets for 2021. It is our intention to have an innovative school in every major city across the region. We would love to extend into the rural areas as well which requires partnerships with Telco’s, infrastructure suppliers and service providers.

Kindly tell us something about your recent partnership with The British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi and how does it work?
British School Al Khubairat (BSAK) is a leader in innovative thinking and has embraced new learning technologies over the last three years. BSAK will have over 1,000 Acer devices in the school when they re-open. This one to one device strategy requires a layer of management and security not available before. Through Acer partners Mobile Guardian these layers include time and location restrictions, metering of Chromebooks to see their effectiveness in the classroom, location tracking for lost devices, safe web filtering and a web-based dashboard that enables parents to manage their child’s device. These are just some of the unique features Acer is able to bring to BSAK through this partnership.

Future plans include linking BSAK to a school in Europe and a school in Africa, for a more international collaboration, where they would share regional histories and culture for a Humanitarian project they can all participate in.

As part of our program, we showcase the technology we have put in place at BSAK to other schools in Abu Dhabi, as it helps gain an understanding of the impact it makes.

As part of our recent partnership with The British School Al Khubairat and all partnerships we have with schools, we personalise learning for all students, increase the network and collaboration opportunities for teachers and students outside the traditional space, and also provide the entire school community with immediate and unfettered access to learning resources.

What are the future plans for this initiative in the region?
As flexible learning becomes important in the future of education, we want to work closely with educational institutes in ensuring this becomes a reality as we adapt to a new normal. Our immediate focus is to identify more schools and universities that are looking to embrace technology and give learners a holistic learning experience, reaching beyond the boundaries of the classroom.

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