We Have To Embrace Challenges And View Them As Opportunities For Growth: Lina Ashar
In the dynamic landscape of education, Lina Ashar, a seasoned educator and founder of Dreamtime Learning, brings a wealth of experience and passion to the forefront. Beginning as a dedicated teacher in Australia, their journey took an unexpected turn when teaching in Mumbai, sparking a commitment to transform education. With nearly three decades of experience, they've championed learner-centric systems, embracing technology and international standards.
Dreamtime Learning, established in 2022, stands as a testament to their dedication to personalized learning, skill development, and reshaping the perception of education in India. Read as we delve into their insights on trends, curriculum development, online education, and the unique approach of Dreamtime Learning in this enlightening interview.
Can you tell us about your background and experience in the education or training industry?
Lina Ashar: As a young educator in Australia, my ambition was to teach upper secondary education in a low-income locality. As a result of teaching boys of varying backgrounds, I developed the engagement skill.
After a year's sabbatical in Australia, I returned to teach at a high-end school in Mumbai. I had a class of 55 students and had to do everything I intuitively knew as a teacher would be detrimental to their mental health and morale. That day, I vowed to return to Australia and complete my education. Upon my return to India, I did not have sufficient capital to begin upper secondary education. I approached my father for a loan and promised to change the perception of education in India.
In the initial days of my career, I was profound enough to bring unique teaching methodologies compatible with technological advancements, which is the need of the hour. With a background in education for almost three decades and a passion for nurturing young, I strongly emphasize experiential learning, creativity, and a holistic approach to child development. Hence, I successfully developed a learner-centric education system with a research-based curriculum, practical application of knowledge and international standards.
I founded Dreamtime Learning in 2022 to create a learning environment centered around children. My experience has taught me that every child is unique and has a different way of learning. At Dreamtime Learning, we take pride in tailoring our teaching methods to each child's needs. Our approach has proven successful, as we have helped countless students achieve their academic and personal goals. I have consistently strived to create dynamic learning environments that cater to individual learning styles. I feel my presence in the education system is more committed to bringing quality education, personalised learning, skill development and transforming education.
What attracted you to foray into the education sector in India through Dreamtime Learning, and why do you want to work in this sector?
Lina Ashar: Creating a positive influence on a child can positively shape their future while also advancing their intellectual and emotional development. As this enhanced human consciousness is then carried into the world, it will impact how individuals engage with and influence the world around them. My shift in perspective led me to transition from a transactional approach to learning to a transformational one. This transformation sparked the question of what my ambitious goal should be, and the answer became clear: to make a meaningful impact on the lives of one billion people. This influence extends beyond competition and consumption, encouraging them to prioritize collaboration and creativity.
To bring about this change, we need to adopt an educational system that values creation over consumption. Creating is when individuals enter a state of flow, experience happiness in their hearts, spirits, and minds. In this new economy, the ability to capture and hold someone's attention is highly valuable, a fact recognized by marketers, tech companies, and the gaming industry. Our educational institutions should acknowledge the significance of technology and help students embrace it rather than resist it.
Could you describe the latest trends and developments in education and training?
Lina Ashar: As the founder of Dreamtime Learning, I can say that education and training constantly evolve in response to technological changes, the job market and students' needs. One trend we see is an increased emphasis on personalised learning, where students have more control over what and how they learn. We have also seen a rise in online and hybrid education models, which became increasingly popular during the pandemic. Additionally, teachers' training and various professional development programs are venturing into schools to equip educators with the usage and benefits of various technologies and tools.
Schools focus on teaching skills like critical thinking, creativity and collaboration, essential for success in today's rapidly changing world. Overall, the future of education and training is exciting, and we are elated to be a part of it at Dreamtime Learning.
How do you approach curriculum development and design for online learning programmes or courses?
Lina Ashar: When it comes to curriculum development and design for online learning programs, we believe in a personalized and student-centered approach. To boost this more efficiently, we launched Poweredby DTL, designing a curriculum tailored for futuristic educational institutions and to infuse technological advancements into schools, thus elevating learning outcomes for students. Our curriculum is designed to cater to the unique learning needs and interests of each student, while also ensuring that they meet the necessary academic standards. We incorporate a range of multimedia resources and interactive activities to make learning engaging and interactive, and we are continuously evaluating and updating our curriculum to ensure that it is updated with current trends. Our goal is to provide schools, educators and students with a comprehensive and enjoyable online learning experience that empowers them to reach their full potential.
What tools and technologies is Dreamtime Learning proficient in creating and delivering online educational content?
Lina Ashar: We utilize a range of cutting-edge tools and technologies to develop and deliver high-quality online educational content. Our team of experts is proficient in using various Learning Management Systems (LMS). We also use multimedia tools such as video recording and editing software, graphic design tools, and animation software to create engaging and interactive content for our learners. We also leverage social media platforms, online collaboration tools, and virtual classrooms to enhance the learning experience for our students.
Dreamtime Learning values a growth mindset and continuous learning. What steps do you take to further development?
Lina Ashar: Dreamtime Learning's commitment to a growth mindset and continuous learning is essential for personal and professional development. Our mission is to reshape education and provide learners with a high-quality, real-world learning experience tailored to their interests, needs, voices and choices. We have to set clear learning goals, whether from acquiring new skills, deepening existing knowledge or personal development goals. We have to embrace challenges and view them as opportunities for growth. Another area of interest will be actively seeking feedback from peers, mentors or supervisors. Constructive feedback is invaluable for personal growth and improvement.
Lastly, I suggest staying committed to your growth journey. It can be a long and sometimes challenging process, but the benefits of continuous learning and a growth mindset are well worth the effort.
What advice would you like to give young and budding entrepreneurs or new minds wanting to foray into this industry?
Lina Ashar:The world is rapidly transforming and driven by climate change, changing work patterns, and conflicts. This exponential change demands that education adapts to empower future generations with new skills, especially as digitisation, automation, and outsourcing render traditional teaching and testing methods obsolete. I personally feel Passion and Purpose are the two most important traits we have to consider. Understanding why you want to be in a particular profession and having a genuine love for it will drive your motivation and success. Also, embracing innovation and willingness to adapt to changes in the education landscape makes you feel more energetic and boosts your self-confidence. Always stay updated with the latest teaching methods, technology and industry trends. Finding a balance between work and personal life is essential to maintain your well-being and creativity. Also, recognize and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem, this can really boost one’s morale and motivation.
Since you have Franchised Schools for the last 30 years what are your thoughts on the Franchise model?
Lina Ashar: The Franchise model in education is tied to numerous limitations, including restricted flexibility, higher expenses, inconsistent quality and loss of community connection. Recognizing the imperative to transcend these limitations and embrace innovation, we developed the transformative and game- changing concept, PoweredbyDTL. Departing from the conventional franchise paradigm, PoweredbyDTL integrates cutting-edge technological resources and a tailored approach to learning. This model is here to transform schools, all without the constraints of a franchise. Conceptualised with each school’s vision and values, a curriculum is crafted free from franchise norms or additional costs.
We often hear Franchisers take away most of the earnings through royalty while Franchisees do all the hard work at the school - what is your take on this?
Lina Ashar: That's true; while Franchising helps tremendously with setting up a brand and hand-holding through the Academic and School Operations in the long run, it is the School owners who,through their service and passion, build a successful School for which they never get the Brand equity. We need to think today about how we can empower schools with the right tools & support without taking out brand ownership, which is an integral part of building a long-term business. At Dreamtime, we have reinvented the wheel with the right solutions, where school owners will continue to stay as brand owners, yet we support them in a 360 degree angle with Technology, Curriculum and other support as true partners in success.
The forefront of Kangaroo Kids PreSchool and Billabong High School was Curriculum, how is the curriculum in Dreamtime different from traditional Schools?
Lina Ashar: At Dreamtime Learning, we recognize the need to prepare learners for the future by emphasizing self- discovery, self-regulation, self-mastery and tailoring our solutions to each individual's unique interests and abilities. Our curriculum believes in empowering learners for the future. In addition to meeting appropriate academic standards mapped to the highest learning outcomes of national and international assessment boards, our curriculum explores self-discovery through three pillars - Brain and Behavioural science, Entrepreneurial and Growth Mindset, Habits of mind and Socio-emotional intelligence. Our Curriculum is structured with NEP 2020, which empowers learner-centric education, an International Standard Curriculum, a Gamified curriculum designed for self-mastery, and an Advanced and user-friendly Learning Management System (LMS).
What is your take on Digital Schools, which is a major trend today?
Lina Ashar: In the era of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, 3D Printing, Augmented Reality (AR/VR) and Biotechnology, it is essential to assess whether our educational institutions are adequately preparing students for this new reality. India is striving to revolutionise the education system through the implementation of personalized learning principles; however, many institutions still adhere to the traditional 'teach-to-the-test' approach and concentrate on limited content. We must urge schools and futuristic institutes to raise the standard of excellence by focusing on and creating an engaging environment for learners that aligns with their preferences and interests. To meet the demands of the times, we must create a learning system that equips students with the skills and competencies to compete and thrive in any environment. Giving a similar realm to the education system, Poweredby Dreamtime Learning offers solutions to power educational institutions by combining cutting-edge technology with a personalized, futuristic curriculum. It also eliminates the need for a franchise concept, allowing the institution's owner to be the real Brand Owner.