Posted on January 21, 2020

Learning a new language is part of most students’ academic curriculum. But, this year, those studying at Georgetown University in Qatar will take part in a language learning program unlike any other, one taught by refugees from around the world.

The pilot phase of the language learning platform will take place during the 2019-2020 academic year. It is designed to help participants improve their conversation skills and prepare for language proficiency exams, while the instructors will practice their native language, such as Arabic, Mandarin, or Urdu.

The program is a partnership between WISE, Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), and Chatterbox, a UK-based startup, and is the first step in the establishment of an education technology (edtech) testbed in Qatar. “The collaboration between WISE, GU-Q, and Chatterbox represents the first attempt towards building an edtech testbed in Qatar in order to understand what works, why, and under what circumstances,” said Dr. Ameena Hussain, Director of Programs and Content at WISE.

The edtech testbed will provide an opportunity for professionals and experts within schools and universities, such as administrators and teachers, to support startups to improve their solutions via testing and experimentation. “Our partnership with WISE and Chatterbox allows us to offer our students an innovative platform to support language learning, and, at the same time, help an exciting edtech start up to expand and evolve in new ways,” said Dr. Anne Nebel, Associate Dean for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment at GU-Q.

The establishment of an edtech testbed also aims to tackle educational challenges faced by schools and universities in Qatar by leveraging innovations developed by startups from around the world. These startups were selected and supported for a year by WISE – an initiative of Qatar Foundation (QF) – through its Accelerator program. The learnings derived from the partnership will go on to help QF scale up its edtech testbed in Education City, and throughout Qatar, in the coming years. And WISE and local academic institutions will be able to leverage the edtech testbed to conduct research, which will help improve innovation in education worldwide.

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