News & Events

Dubai Heights Academy announces partnership with MIT to launch bespoke AI curriculum

10th August 2020

Dubai Heights Academy (DHA), a leading British curriculum school located in the heart of Al Barsha South, will launch its secondary school when the new academic year 2020/2021 starts on August 30th.

In addition to providing a curriculum that follows the National Curriculum for England and is tailored to comply with local requirements with Arabic language, Islamic Studies, Moral Education, and Social Studies, DHA has also signed a partnership agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The three-year project-based learning curriculum from leading US college, MIT, will focus on the science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) elements of artificial intelligence (AI), transforming today’s society.

Rob Hitchings, DHA's Vice-Principal and Head of Secondary, said: “Today’s reality is that if you are using online web services, mobile apps, smartphones, or social media, you are already interacting with AI-powered systems and technologies. We want to prepare students to be ethical designers and conscientious users of AI technologies.

“The job opportunities for those with competence in AI are already growing rapidly worldwide across diverse industries and markets, and the future is very bright for students who have skills in computational thinking and artificial intelligence.”

The MIT programme will focus on 'learning-through-making,' or constructionism as it is more commonly known. Students will have the opportunity to learn technical skills and concepts in AI and computational thinking while also developing teamwork competencies, including collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and critical and design thinking.

Year 7 students will initially be introduced to a set of learning modules in the 2020-2021 academic year, which will be taught twice a week as part of students’ Computing classes by the DHA Computing teacher and an MIT mentor. The programme will be expanded to Year 8 and 9 in subsequent academic years, with the end goal to serve the entire DHA student body.

Students will be in good company as MIT has a long list of celebrated alumni who have contributed significantly to a broad spectrum of society, including Buzz Aldrin, Kofi Annan, Bill Hewlett, and Andrea Wong. Also, one of the best-regarded authorities on Artificial Intelligence, Ray Kurzweil, a legendary American computer scientist, inventor, author, and futurist, also graduated from MIT.

“As this curriculum is under development, we will be iterating and revising materials using feedback from students and teachers. Student and teacher input will be invaluable in ensuring activities are both relevant and engaging for everyone. One of the most exciting elements is, based on our work, the curriculum can be rolled out to other students around the world," added Hitchings.

The Dubai Heights Academy Secondary initially launched with Year 7, will grow to cater for students from the ages of 11-18, which will be split into three distinct stages, including Key Stage 3 (11-14), Key Stage 4 (14-16), and Key Stage 5 (16-18).

The curriculum in Year 7, in addition to the MIT AI course, will include English, Mathematics, Science, Humanities, Art, Design & Technology, Computing, Music, Physical Education, Arabic, Islamic Studies, UAE Social Studies, and Moral Education.

DHA recognises and understands the importance of digital learning and the use of technology within education. Across the world, distance learning and home working have further highlighted the need and use of technology.

In line with the school's partnership with MIT and the growing need for technology skills in all areas of the curriculum, DHA has also announced a new Chromebook initiative. All students in Year 3 to Year 7 will now have access to a Chromebook to enhance their learning experience both at home and in school.

“We are committed to ensuring that the talents of all students are recognised and encouraged. Students benefit from state-of-the-art facilities and an exciting range of extra-curricular activities which develop confidence and skills for lifelong learning beyond the classroom,” concluded Hitchings. 

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