Educational opportunities should be available to all children around the world equally. Establishing the basis of how to achieve this falls to global educators. On November 26th and 27th, the 14th APEC1 Future Education Forum was held in Manila, The Philippines, under the theme ‘Future Education for Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities in the Digital Age’. This event was important in terms of establishing a collective basis for equal education and saw 250 education experts from 14 APEC nations come together to share their knowledge.
I was at this year’s Forum as the presenter for the segment introducing “Samsung Smart School”, one of the representative social contribution programs of Samsung Electronics. I spoke about my experience in working to narrow the gap of digital education through the Samsung Smart School program. I was very proud to be sharing all the work Samsung Smart School has done over the past seven years with education experts from all over the Asia-Pacific region.
Introducing Samsung Smart Schools’ Innovation Strategies
Enhancing education with technology, as it develops, could very well be the future of equal opportunity schooling. An example of such a confluence of education and technology is education that harnesses virtual reality (VR) and augmented (AR) reality to relieve space-time constraints and create classrooms that do not require students to always focus on the front, instead able to easily complete exercises using digital devices. Samsung Smart School, begun in 2012, similarly aims for such a convergence of technology and education.
During the APEC Future Education Forum, the audience was particularly interested to hear about two of our latest cases of innovation in education from over the past year. Firstly, I spoke of how Samsung Smart School has opened its doors not only to students in isolated island and mountain regions, but also to young students in hospitals, students in multicultural schools made up of a variety of language education levels and students in institutions that support children with developmental disabilities. This program won the support of many education experts on the basis that we also develop tailored education solutions for students, understanding that there can be no ‘one size fits all’ approach because each student has their own particular needs.
The second case I introduced to Forum participants was our distinct new approach to how educators can apply for the Smart School. Over the past year, Samsung Smart School broke with the conventional application process of ‘contest -> evaluation -> acceptance’ and instead has made the process more thorough with a ‘contest -> evaluation -> “Hackathon” -> online “like” vote -> acceptance’ framework. The “Hackathon” element of this application allows teachers, engineers and designers to cooperate in getting to grips with the Samsung Smart School offering and unearth particular deficiencies in their own systems – going beyond just device and equipment support. The ‘online “like” vote’ element garnered educator and public support, providing motivation and drive to applicants in continuing their schooling innovation projects.
At the APEC Education Forum, we also outlined the blueprint for the future of Samsung Smart School. Centered around three keywords of ‘ownership’, ‘connection’ and ‘individualization’, I informed the audience of current projects that are currently in a development phase, such as the running of various job experience programs for students at Gunnae Elementary School in the South Korean border village of Paju, Gyeonggi-do.
Best Practice for Students with Intellectual Disabilities
Our segment also featured a presentation from guest speaker Sang-cheol Oh, a teacher from Suwon Seokwang School in Gyeonggi-do, Korea who received Samsung Electronics’ ‘Future Teacher’ award in February of this year. Suwon Seokwang School is a school for students with intellectual disabilities which was selected for the Samsung Smart School program last year and has subsequently been supported with advanced classrooms equipped with electronic boards, tablets, PCs, VR and other devices. After working closely with Samsung Smart School for a year, Mr. Oh told the Forum’s participants about particular needs of teaching intellectually challenged students, as well as the changes that occurred in his school following the partnership with Samsung Smart School.
Mr. Oh’s presentation demonstrated to the audience the difficulties specific to special education. “Special education has not often been an area of attention from the wider educational circles,” he noted. “But now it is receiving more focus thanks to the processes of changing education for these children put in place by Samsung Smart School technologies. I hope Samsung Smart School can spread to more of the world so that children with developmental disabilities everywhere can experience its benefits.”
Creating Unity Through Education
Aside from our Samsung Smart School presentation, 16 education experts in total made presentations on the future of education at this year’s Forum. Chief Jong-hee Park of UNESCO Asia Pacific Regional Program, ICT in Education, gave a presentation on Digital Civil Education Requirements for the Age of SDG42. His main takeaway was how important it is for students to move beyond learning just how to use digital technologies and towards actively developing their creativities and capabilities with them – this particularly resonated with me and the work we do with Samsung Smart School.
This year’s APEC Future Education Forum concluded with the hopeful message of working towards a harmonious tomorrow through education. It was an especially meaningful event for me as I was able to meet many experts who are striving to innovate their own education practices, such as Secretary Leonor Briones from the Department of Education of the Republic of The Philippines who is known as “the role model of Filipino Teachers”. I was impressed that the event was not about just introducing speakers but also encouraged people to mingle in the spirit of “making better education”.
Samsung Smart School has now been introduced to a range of global education leaders. Many of the experts I spoke to were enthusiastic about the possibilities the program has to offer; “Samsung Smart School is a program that teaches a lesson worth learning to other institutions and countries as it offers significant impact on students, teachers and society alike,” noted Dr. Luksmon Smansin from the Office of Higher Education Commission, Thailand Ministry of Education.
ICT Assistant Secretary Thomas Podarua of the Ministry of Education, Papua New Guinea gave a great comment. He said “Samsung Smart School is the best solution for regions with limitations,” noted ICT Assistant Secretary Thomas Podarua of the Ministry of Education, Papua New Guinea. “Students of such regions will be able to become parts of the global village through the program.”
Olga Hernandez Limon, consultant, Mexican Ministry of Education also enthused: “Samsung Smart School could help improving the overall course of education. If Mexico can implement Samsung Smart School, the program would receive active support.”
It would appear my presentation and the innovation put forward by the Samsung Smart School program over the last seven years was received well by those at the Forum. We at the Samsung Smart School team will continue to do our utmost to improve education for children of all backgrounds, no matter where they may be in the world.
*Written by Jihyun Yoon, Corporate Social Contribution Office, Samsung Electronics; translated and edited by Samsung Newsroom
1APEC stands for the ‘Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’, an inter-governmental forum that promotes economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region
2This stands for ‘SDGs in the Fourth Industrial Revolution’. SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) are a collection of the most important global goals set by the United Nations for 2016 to 2030, after the end of MDGs from 2000 to 2015. It constitutes 17 major goals and 169 targets