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QS awards reward “innovative approaches”

QS' senior VP Ben Sowter speaks at the 2021 QS Reimagine Education Awards. Photo: QS

We were delighted to capture innovation, creativity, and grit happening in and around the world

The ceremony was held virtually as part of their over-arching Reimagine Education conference, which took place between December 6-10, and was marketed as the conference’s “Grand Finale”.

“The conference brought together Reimaginers from over 90 countries”

The Queensland University of Technology won the Global Education Award for their Design for Impact solution, promoting “trans-disciplinary skills” through “impact labs”.

“The disruptive and turbulent past two years brought unprecedented challenges as well as incredible opportunities to propel and accelerate transformation in education,” Simona Bizzozero, Chair of the Reimagine Education steering committee, told The PIE News.

“We were delighted to capture, through our global competition, innovation, creativity, and grit happening in and around the world,” she continued.

QUT’s impact labs were introduced across the university’s Bachelor of Design curriculum back in 2019.

“The outstanding multi-disciplinary work undertaken by the QUT Design for Impact Team, in collaboration with industry partners and the community, is a wonderful example of QUT purpose in action,” QUT’s Vice Chancellor Margaret Sheil said.

The Global EdTech award went to Pan-African social enterprise UBONGO, which “leverages the power of entertainment, mass media and kid-centred design” to localise and specify learning for African families at little cost, using already rendered technology.

The company provides free “edutainment” programs on TV and radio, as well as online, which are available in 11 languages and 40 countries – reaching almost 25 million families across the continent.

Another highlight of the awards was the Wharton Interactive: Entrepreneurship Strategy Game, An Alternate Reality Course – which scooped the Management award gold win. It is designed to fill a “serious experiential gap” in business education.

The ARC teaches students entrepreneurial skills through story practice, adapting the narrative and giving learners personalised feedback.

Looking at medical education, the Singapore Armed Forces Medical Training Institute was the VR/AR award gold winner with a training simulation designed to teach medical trainees on triage procedure in a “guided, virtual environment”.

The Multi-Sensory Extended Reality Medical Crisis Management System has trainees interact with physical mannequins with virtual bodily mapping, created to simulate tangible sensation matching what the student sees whilst operating in the “virtual world”.

“Reimaginers” are able to choose an organisation that has impressed them over the past year during the conference, which forms the ceremony’s People’s Choice award.

This year the gong went to Brian.study, an application that allows its students to learn and practice exam material “with the ease of a social, competitive, digital game”.

“These awards are the culmination of a year-long program for us”

Its mission statement decries the usual slideshows, “crowded lecture halls” and lists of tasks, and aims to “refine” the way to study for exams, usually the most stressful time in a students’ studies.

“It is an overwhelming motivation for us [to win this award],” Ralph Forsbach, co-founder and CEO of Brian told The PIE News.

“It gives us the reassurance that we are on to something that will really play a significant role in the future world – especially as an early stage startup, this is important,” Forsbach continued.

Forsbach also mentioned that there is still so much “unknown terrain to be discovered”.

“We see the potential that is still so infinitely far away – so difficult to achieve. But that just spurs us on enormously and keeps us going,” he added.

2022 looks to be a big year for Brian, as it aims to look for partnerships when it comes to testing and evaluation of its software, as well as doubling the number of employees and pushing “exciting AI developments with its existing data sets”.

Brian is also even looking into Series A funding for the end of next year.

QS’ Reimagine Education Conference itself also highlighted some trends for the next year, and beyond that.

Mentioned was the rise of “interdisciplinarity”, embedding sustainability across curricula, and an increased focus on diversity, inclusion and access.

Also touched upon was improved e-learning for “lifelong education”, AI innovations for assessment, and a focus on emerging value and employability skills “for the future of work” – including computational thinking, problem-solving mentality, emotional intelligence and adaptability.

“It gives us the reassurance that we are on to something that will really play a significant role”

“These awards are the culmination of a year-long program for us, discovering, identifying, and ultimately selecting the leaders of global education innovation,” Ben Sowter, senior VP at QS, said during the ceremony.

During the awards, Sowter also told of how he hoped that participants had managed to “find collaborators” through the conference and awards.

“The conference brought together Reimaginers from over 90 countries to discuss and learn about these innovations and their relevance for the future of learning, the future of universities and the future of work,” Bizzozero added.

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