In today’s digitally advanced landscape, the integration of Innovation and Education is driving significant refinements. Between this integration, Dr. Hunada Kanbar stands as a luminary figure, bringing two and a half decades of transformative experience across five countries – the USA, Canada, the UK, UAE, and the KSA. As the founding Chief Learning Officer and Assistant Professor at Sharjah Education Academy, her journey has been marked by a relentless commitment to shaping the future of learning.
Holding a PhD from the University of Sharjah, Dr. Hunada has been a catalyst for change in various roles, from Change Management Advisor to School Improvement Advisor, Educational Consultant to Efficacy Reviewer. Her expertise extends to serving as an Associate School Inspector, contributing to the elevation of educational standards.
Dr. Hunada has partnered with leading private companies and governmental entities in the collaborative landscape of international education. Her fingerprints grace six influential frameworks, including Inspection, Evaluation and Digital Transformation in education. An example of her leadership is she holds accreditations as a leadership coach and certified teacher trainer recognized by institutions like the National College for School Leadership in the UAE and Edexcel Pearson.
Beyond accolades, Dr. Hunada is the driving force in educational excellence. She has left an indelible mark as both a judge and awards’ standard developer in Sharjah. Having inspected 300 schools, her commitment to advancing learning experiences is unparalleled.
Amidst her dynamic career, Dr. Hunada’s research interests delve into advanced learning analysis in the education sector, seamlessly bridging the realms of government and the private sector. Her expertise is guiding Sharjah Education Academy toward unparalleled heights in educational leadership.
Let’s explore the threads of expertise, dedication and a relentless pursuit of shaping education for generations to come!
“In my 25-year career as an educator, embracing technology is a game-changer,” says Hunada. “When discussing geographical locations, instead of relying on pictures, I use 3D technology, allowing students to virtually explore, enriching their learning by connecting them directly to real-life settings.” This interactive approach transcends traditional classrooms, providing students with unlimited access to diverse resources.
“Incorporating technology isn’t just about new tools—it transforms education, making it more engaging, relevant and accessible for students,” adds Hunada. Her experience underscores the pivotal role technology plays in modern education, breaking barriers and enhancing the learning journey for a generation wired for digital exploration.
Unlocking Student Potential
“In my previous role as a School Improvement Advisor and Content Lead,” notes Hunada, “there’s no one-size-fits-all EdTech solution. The effectiveness depends on context and specific features.” For enhanced engagement and outcomes, she finds collaborative tools invaluable.
Students should interact, share feedback and discuss results seamlessly. Hunada highlights adaptive AI-driven content as a standout solution. These tools tailor learning to individual needs providing the right challenge and interaction. Her experience emphasizes that personalization is crucial for sustained student interest and improved educational outcomes. This insight caters to emphasizing the nuanced approach needed in selecting and implementing educational technology for diverse contexts and fostering effective as well as personalized learning experiences.
Smart Tech, Smart Teaching
Hunada emphasizes staying abreast of the rapidly evolving educational technology landscape is crucial. Her approach involves a dual focus on understanding student needs and monitoring innovations in the EdTech sector by business professionals.
Aligning strategies with these aspects, she consults with experts to assess risks associated with new tools. “If risks are low, I encourage students to explore these tools themselves.” This hands-on approach allows valuable feedback on integration into the learning environment.
Hunada ensures that adopting new technologies is both relevant and safe enhancing educational practices for the students’ benefit. This insight stresses the importance of a balanced approach, considering student needs, industry innovations and expert consultation for effective and secure integration of educational technologies.
Strategic and Sustainable
As the Change Management Advisor for a smart learning project, Hunada played a pivotal role in supporting 300 schools through their digital transformation journey. Her key contribution was leading the ‘E-Maturity Initiative,’ implementing a change management model to assist schools in transitioning to various educational technologies. The work was multifaceted and operated on multiple levels. The focus included aligning with leaders’ visions, enhancing teachers’ skills and conducting self-evaluations of schools’ maturity levels in digital integration.
A significant strategy involved creating small teams in each school, acting as catalysts for change. “These teams tailored the digital transformation to specific needs,” says Hunada. Her leadership ensured the transition to digital learning was both strategic and sustainable, ultimately enhancing the educational experience across the schools. This highlights the comprehensive approach and leadership crucial for successful digital transformations in educational settings.
Effectiveness Over Method
“The key to balancing traditional teaching with technology is focusing on ‘outcomes, student engagement, motivation, and results’,” emphasizes Hunada. She believes effectiveness matters more than the method. When stakeholders observe positive outcomes, their support naturally shifts towards new tools, easing the transition from traditional methods.
Addressing the challenge of change acceptance, Hunada prioritizes clear communication about the benefits of new technologies and providing firsthand experiences. This approach demonstrates technology’s value and builds a supportive community around innovative teaching methods.
Ensuring a holistic learning experience involves a careful balance of introducing new technologies while respecting proven aspects of traditional methods as noted by Hunada. This stresses the importance of outcomes and effective communication in integrating technology seamlessly with traditional teaching for a comprehensive and successful learning experience.
Hunada emphasizes that technology is crucial in nurturing skills like ‘critical thinking, creativity and adaptability. To harness its potential, supporting learners’ minds is essential. When used thoughtfully, technology becomes more than a tool—it’s a gateway to unleash creativity, engage with challenges and explore solutions. It transports learners to dimensions of thought, encouraging critical thinking and adaptability.
However, the key is nurturing cognitive abilities, enabling learners to approach technology as innovators and creators. Interactive, diverse and personalized learning experiences significantly stimulate mental development. “This ensures technology enriches the learning experience, cultivating a generation equipped to navigate and contribute to a rapidly evolving world with confidence and creativity,” says Hunada. This underlines the transformative role of technology in fostering essential skills and intellectual growth for the next generation.
Personalizing education to meet individual student needs is a key focus, emphasizing technology’s central role. Adaptive digital content powered by AI is highly effective for personalized learning. This technology tailors the material to each student’s pace and style, ensuring appropriate challenges and support. Formative assessment tools provide insightful feedback, identifying areas for improvement and excellence, enabling a more targeted learning experience.
Moreover, Hunada encourages students to participate actively in their learning journey. “Giving them opportunities to create their own learning experiences using technology empowers them to explore subjects in ways that resonate with their interests.” This approach enhances engagement and fosters a deeper understanding of the material, making learning a more dynamic and fulfilling experience. Highlighting the impactful use of technology in personalized education, fostering engagement and empowering students to shape their learning journey.
Hunada advises aspiring EdTech leaders, emphasizing, “Focus on the growth and development of people, as leadership fundamentally revolves around this.” Leveraging technology effectively can significantly accelerate and maximize human potential. She encourages leaders to inspire others to see technology as a powerful tool for advancement.
Crucially, she notes that ensure people are equipped with the right skills and ethical understanding to use technology effectively. This approach fosters an environment where technology is a catalyst for meaningful growth and development. This concise advice is applicable to everyone stressing the human-centric aspect of leadership in EdTech and the transformative potential of technology when used ethically and with a focus on skill development.
From Patience to Collaboration
Hunada emphasizes that effective communication in educational leadership, especially in EdTech initiatives, is multi-faceted. Leading by example is paramount—actions often speak louder than words. Demonstrating real-time use and benefits of technology communicates its value powerfully. She believes in collaborative problem-solving, engaging students, teachers and parents to address challenges and find solutions, fostering ownership and involvement.
“Asking the right questions and utilizing various channels ensures communication is accessible and engaging for all stakeholders.” Patience is crucial, as adapting to new technologies is a gradual journey.
Importantly, effective communication starts by “understanding and addressing the needs of stakeholders, rather than solely focusing on what I need from them.” This approach aligns EdTech initiatives with the interests and concerns of students, teachers and parents increasing their support and involvement. This comprehensive approach highlights the importance of leading by example, collaboration, patience, and stakeholder-centric communication in successful EdTech leadership.
The Dual Nature of Tech
Hunada finds technology endlessly fascinating for its capability to unlock answers and experiences beyond our immediate reach. She is intrigued by its use in exploring active volcanoes, allowing her and the team to virtually journey inside a volcano, witnessing its inner workings up close. This exploration profoundly expands the understanding of natural phenomena.
On a personal level, Hunada is captivated by how technology can reveal the secrets of the universe and nature. The ability to explore space and the natural world through advanced technological means is incredibly exciting, providing a window into realms they have only dreamed of exploring.
In her family, technology serves as a tool for personal growth and talent development. Her children leverage technology to enhance their skills and pursue their interests. This aspect of technology and its ability to foster personal development is particularly meaningful to her.
However, Hunada is acutely aware of the risks associated with technology. Understanding these risks thoroughly is important to avoid potential negative impacts. This balanced perspective guides her exploration and use of technological tools, both professionally and personally. Embracing technology’s potential while being mindful of its challenges allows for responsible and creative harnessing of its benefits. This offers a balanced perspective showcasing the awe-inspiring aspects of technology alongside a thoughtful consideration of its risks and responsibilities.
Inspiring Learners, Empowering Educators
“In the long run, my focus is less on where I will be and more on the impact I am creating,” expresses Hunada, emphasizing the significance of her educational journey. Her goal extends beyond personal growth, aiming to inspire and motivate learners at Sharjah Education Academy. With a commitment to empowering students, she endeavors to bridge the gap between innovative education and business acumen equipping them to succeed in their care ers and contribute meaningfully to society.
The inception of Sharjah Education Academy on June 15, 2020, marked a transformative decree under the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi. This decree, Decree No. 10 of 2020, established SEA as an encouragement of educational excellence revolutionizing the professional growth of K-12 educators and fostering a culture of innovation within the educational system.
As a founding member, Hunada played a pivotal role in establishing the digital academy at SEA embracing the flipped learning model. This initiative took Sharjah teachers to the global stage offering flexibility through digitized materials. SEA, under the aegis of the Sharjah Private Education Authority, stands as evidence of Sharjah’s dedication to educational leadership nurturing educators to shape the future of learning.
The journey continued with the approval of Phase 2 by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi on March 4, 2021. This phase marked the establishment of degree programs expanding SEA’s offerings to global standards in teacher and principal education. SEA became a vibrant institution offering Ministry of Education-accredited academic programs, professional development opportunities, innovative school improvement tools, and a robust research focus.
The application for the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) degree program is a proof to SEA’s commitment to elevating educational standards. SEA, licensed by the UAE Commission for Academic Accreditation, reflects an unwavering dedication to preparing teachers for the future of education.
“Ultimately, Sharjah Education Academy is to become a hub of innovation and excellence in learning,” Hunada envisions. The institution consistently merges cutting-edge educational practices with practical business insights to fulfill its purpose and create lasting, positive impacts. The focus remains on inspiring learners, empowering educators and contributing meaningfully to societal development through educational excellence.