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Leading the charge in education

What we do – experiential learning – is based on a very different learning ideology than most schools around the world.

Written by

Sigrid Kenmuir

At iXperience, we’ve long held the opinion that education is due for a change. What we do – experiential learning – is based on a very different learning ideology than most schools around the world. Part of our long-term strategy is to partner with schools, colleges, and universities that are doing things a little differently.

Strategic partnerships

We have been lucky enough to partner with the team at the University of Virginia (UVA) since 2019, and it gave us a taste of what working with such a forward-thinking establishment could be like. 

In 2021, we were lucky again. We made contact with one of the world's largest and oldest high school groups, GEMS Education, as part of our bid to bring career exploration to high school students through iX LaunchPad. GEMS Education – based in the United Arab Emirates – has 44 schools in the UAE and Qatar, schools in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and India, as well as across Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia and North America.

Career exploration & real-world experience

One of the ways GEMS Education ensures that its students have a clear understanding of their future is through career exploration and real-world experiences. They have various initiatives such as the Week Without Walls and the GEMS For Life foundation whose mandate is to give students as many opportunities and resources as possible to ensure they leave high school with confidence and a clear plan.

In early 2022, we partnered with GEMS For Life to pilot the iX LaunchPad programme through the GEMS Education network of schools. After the conclusion of our successful pilot, we’ve run programmes throughout the year, both during school holidays and as an after-school extracurricular. This year alone, we have been able to give over 150 students the gift of career exploration and increased career clarity.

The value of partnerships

One of the reasons that GEMS Education’s continuing education foundation, GEMS For Life, has partnered with our team at iX LaunchPad is our approach to education. Our two organisations agree on the principle that you can’t learn everything you need from books in the classroom. 

Together, we have chosen a range of courses in future-focused industries to give students the opportunity to learn about careers they may otherwise never have contact with. These courses are combined with a real-world micro-internship project designed in collaboration with a partner company giving students a window into the world of work.

GEMS also appreciates the ways in which we measure the success of our programmes, using metrics such as “growth of knowledge” and “career clarity” – two measures each student participant rates for themselves. So far, our average growth in knowledge has been 35%, with career clarity riding at 60%.  It is these results – alongside an overall recommendation rating of 66 NPS – that make the GEMS and iX LaunchPad partnership such a success.

Why GEMS Education partners with iX LaunchPad

One of the key differentiators of the iX LaunchPad programme is our unique combination of future-focused industries, taught by industry professionals, and rounded out by the micro-internship project. Our courses thus far have been in areas such as Data Analytics, Blockchain, and User Experience, alongside perennial favourites like Digital Marketing and Investment Finance. Our GEMS students love their experiences exploring careers, with some taking a course with every programme we offer.

“It was an informative and fruitful experience, I gained a lot of key skills in the world of design and learned to be able to apply research and learning towards being able to create something.”

– E.A, GEMS Founders School, Dubai (User Experience Design, Term 1).

GEMS For Life Director of Employability, Matt Tompkins, once commented that “high school students often end up studying what their parents studied or they study teaching.” This is due to a lack of exposure to alternative careers, especially those that have arisen since their parents were studying themselves. However, some of the most lucrative, most employable jobs of today (and tomorrow) are in industries that didn’t exist 10 or 20 years ago. That is why we focus on careers that are outside of the traditional: we see it as our responsibility to give high school students an opportunity to explore these careers that are outside of their sphere.

GEMS at the forefront of education

“The most important gifts you can give your child are a quality education and the values that will guide them through life”. 

These are the words of GEMS Education Founder and Chairman Sunny Varkey, and the words that guide the group to this day. Sixty years ago when Sunny and his wife started teaching from their home this meant teaching in English to the children of the many people who ended up in Dubai in search of a better life.

Today, that means uniting the schools under a banner of values-led academic excellence, with a multitude of experiences beyond the classroom and a clear path into the future through tertiary education and career exploration. 

“iX LaunchPad is a very fulfilling, informative and fruitful experience. Apart from just imparting knowledge, it equips us with present-day skills and working experience which are valuable assets and useful for careers to be pursued in the future.”

– A.B, GEMS Millennium School (Basics of Blockchain, Term 1).

Future-proofing education

For GEMS, it’s not enough to have their students leave school with a high school diploma. They know that, in order to thrive out there in the world, their students need to learn about the world first-hand. That translates into projects like the GEMS Centres of Excellence in areas like AI and robotics, aviation, sustainability, and entrepreneurship. 

They also partner with universities and colleges all over the world to give their students the chance to experience tertiary education before they even leave school. These experiences help give GEMS students the tools to make great study and career decisions, with all the information they need to do so. Think that’s all? GEMS have also partnered with global businesses such as Siemens, IBM, Samsung and others to give students first-hand experiences in the world of work.

Looking into the future

It is initiatives like these and many others that put GEMS Education at the leading edge of educational transformation, and part of why we are so proud to be working with them. As we expand the footprint of iXperience and iX LaunchPad, we look forward to many such partnerships.

If your college, university, high school or school group would like to find out more about getting involved with us, please get in touch

Image sources: head, 1, 2, 3

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