Calls for the greater adoption of digital learning methods were made during a regional conference recently organized by Edraak, the not-for-profit online education platform.
“The idea is that instead of focusing on the transfer of knowledge in the classroom which can be done very well online, what you more focus on is problem solving, team work, things that allow students to apply their knowledge more effectively,” said Robert Lue, faculty director of HarvardX, Harvard University’s online education initiative.
What distinguishes digital learning, added Lue, is the ability to combine the delivery of content with ways in which students self assess their own learning. They can then go to the classroom for a more in depth and effective application of the topic.
Lue has been in talks with Edraak, which was launched in 2014 by HM Queen Rania, about the translation and the implementation of HarvardX courses in the Middle East and the Arab world. But increasingly they have been discussing the possibility of partnering with other institutions to help with adapting and localizing online courses that have been developed elsewhere into the Arab world.
Next, Lue hopes to move into co-development of courses from scratch in Arabic and English so that they will work well in the Arabic world but also in the English-speaking world.
Since Edraak’s launch, it has managed to reach more than 1.2 million learners between 19 and 26 years, from across the MENA region. Recently Edraak signed a partnership with Google.org through which it will be expanding into the K-12 space.
Edraak CEO Shireen Yacoub said the pilot project will cover open educational resources for math curricula in the Arab world from grades 1 to 12 for free in Arabic that are aligned with the national curricula in Jordan, Egypt and Syria.
This content can be leveraged also by teachers who want to augment their classroom instruction and also by parents who want to engage with their children to enhance their education output.
Besides online courses for students, Edraak, in cooperation with Bayt.com, also provides university graduates with skills courses around bridging the gap between universities and the labor market’s needs, like CV writing and interviewing skills to help them hunt for jobs more effectively. “We are transforming Jordan’s education system by creating alternatives and modern pathways that offer up-to-date knowledge,” Yacoub said. “We are trying to create partnerships with industry leaders, universities, and subject matter experts to bring the latest thinking and to scale it. We are trying to revolutionize access to and delivery of education in the Arab world by providing high quality online and blended learning experiences.”