In an age and time of classrooms dominated by digital textbooks and laptops, tech companies are cashing in on student-focused technologies. As more teachers dump textbooks for iPads and learning tablets, a new generation of learners are walking into classrooms surrounded by smart boards, surround sound, immersive learning and 3D technologies. With the education ministry announcing a new e-learning initiative for schools across the country, the focus on technology at schools has taken centre stage. In an earlier project aimed at changing the traditional style of teaching in schools, Intel worked together with the Institute of Applied Technology (IAT) to transform classrooms and the role of teachers. Converting traditional text-based learning to digital education, each student at the IAT was given an Apple Macbook Pro to enhance the learning experience. Nearly 6,000 Apple MacBook Pro computers were deployed across five campuses, as 400 teachers and more than 5,000 students took to the change with a positive sentiment. Teachers engaged in creating digital content in Arabic and English as students could access online lectures, videos and training sessions anytime. The change was immediate and clear. From a teacher-centric classroom, learning became more student-centric, as each student took to a 1:1 learning experience. “Students want to stay connected and work in collaboration,” says Nassir Nauthoa, General Manager for Intel in the GCC. Having worked closely to spearhead the Intel technology behind the 1:1 e-learning, he says the project is a successful example of e-learning in education. “Education technology has a sizeable market and governments across the GCC fully realise the importance of technology. We position ourselves as advisors who work to help the governments,” adds Nassir. With a laptop for every student, improvements were observed in students’ attendance, interest and involvement in the lectures, collaboration between students and teachers, and peer learning among teachers through the sharing of digital media content. In a case study on the 1:1 e-learning project by Intel, Dr Abdullatif Al Shamsi, Managing Director of the IAT, says, “Today, laptops have a central role in the classroom and in some instances there are no hard copies of anything. There have been positive results with astounding progress made from project-based learning to more digital content and parents, students and teachers all embracing eLearning.” In a few years, schools students in the UAE will be swapping books for iPads as part of the Dh1-billion ‘Mohammed bin Rashid Smart Learning Initiative’. The Ministry of Education will develop new apps and e-books for the students to make learning more interactive and engaging. With more technology coming into classrooms, it is a matter of time students start dumping their school bags for a learning device in their hands. Collaboration, sharing and digital learning will continue to be the road ahead for schools.