Interest in Online Courses Surges within the Middle East – Al-Fanar Media

Shireen Yacoub, the chief government of Edraak, referred to as the expansion in grownup studying by way of on-line programs “one of the most inspiring observations we’ve had during the curfews and lockdowns.”

Even so, she worries about what she calls the “equity gap” relating to who is ready to use the group’s free programs. Most of Edraak’s customers get to its platform by means of their smartphones, she added, and low-income households might have three or 4 children all needing to share a cellphone. Computers and residential Internet entry are too pricey for a lot of, she provides. “We need to advocate for more equity in Internet connectivity,” she mentioned. “Their lives will often depend on it. It’s not a luxury.” (See a associated article, “The Shift to Online Education in the Arab World Is Intensifying Inequality.”)

Coursera has 3.four million customers within the Middle East out of roughly 70 million learners worldwide, based on Betty Vandenbosch, the corporate’s chief content material officer. About 400 faculties and organizations within the area have signed up for a free program that lets them provide Coursera on-line programs to their enrolled college students. That implies that the universities—together with Al Hussein Technical University in Jordan—are providing at the very least some on-line programs based mostly largely on content material offered free from Coursera.

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And she says that in latest months, Coursera has seen extra curiosity from governments and organizations within the area to type partnerships. Such offers sometimes imply that governments and organizations pay Coursera a price to get free entry to Coursera’s on-line diploma applications for his or her workers. That was beginning to occur even earlier than the pandemic: Last 12 months the corporate introduced a deal with the Abu Dhabi School of Government to coach 60,000 authorities workers in information science, digital transformation and different high-tech expertise.

“The governments in the Middle East are recognizing the challenges they have with their economies,” Vandenbosch mentioned. “Some of those governments are saying, ‘Gosh, we really need to upskill our workforce because oil is not going to be there forever.”

New Attitudes Toward Online Learning

Experts in schooling know-how say that the pandemic might find yourself being a turning level for on-line schooling within the area.

John Schwartz, head of Enterprise Global Business Development at edX, mentioned that schools within the MENA area have lately adopted the platform’s on-line programs as effectively. “Virtually no university had the time and resources to turn all their classroom content into online courses, so edX was able and continues to fill a large void,” he mentioned. “In addition there has been a significantly higher degree of interest from the region’s schools to not only use edX content, but to put their own quality content online, as a partner on the platform.”

The hottest edX programs by college students within the area are an introductory computer-science course by Harvard University and a course from the University of Queensland that prepares college students to take the IELTS take a look at of English-language expertise.


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