A study that looks to the future of improving blended learning in the Arab world – thought and art – culture


The Abdullah Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, together with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Office of the Open Education Program, today published a comprehensive study aimed at promoting blended learning in the Arab world. This study provides valuable data in light of the current circumstances in which the world is moving towards blended learning and online learning models, following the emerging coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The findings of this study should guide policy makers and higher education institutions to offer accredited, more sustainable, and high-quality online programs and courses.

This study was conducted over a three-year period, 2017-2019, at the American University of Cairo and the American University of Beirut, and titled: “Paving the way for the future: collaboration bringing together a range of stakeholders to promote blended learning in the Arab world “.

The studio is the first of its kind

Dr Sonia Bin Jaafar, CEO of the Abdullah Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, said about this study: “This study we have collected at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the first of its kind in the region. Willingness to apply blended learning and online learning models, which encouraged us to continue our efforts to support and promote innovative learning models in the region. But our biggest fear today revolves around young Arabs outside the department of employment, education and training, especially after it has become clear that their numbers are the highest compared to young people in the rest of the world. , according to the International Labor Organization. Learning to improve livelihoods is an essential part of our mission and requires the concerted efforts of a range of stakeholders who appreciate the potential offered by blended learning and online models within the framework of sustainable development for the Arab region.

The study extracted seven essential components to ensure the successful implementation of blended learning projects.

The seven main findings of the study:

1. Participatory design: Blended learning projects should be designed with the participation of all stakeholders. If the purpose of the study is to achieve a radical change in an entire course, participatory design should include a course design team comprised of the faculty who will teach the course.

2. Assigning Roles and Responsibilities to Teams: The team that included curriculum designers and education technologists played a key role in leading the implementation of online programs at the American University of Cairo and the American University of Beirut. Specialists in competence building in the fields of learning science, data analytics and knowledge of online learning are essential team members who contribute to the creation of online learning and blended learning skills at the university level.

3. Adopt clear communication channels for the project: Effective communication channels are an essential aspect of any project. The exchange of information gives managers and the project team the opportunity to answer questions and address any concerns regarding early adoption of technology in the classroom.

4. Consider students as stakeholders: The evaluation results indicate that students are key stakeholders that should be taken into consideration when planning similar initiatives in the future. However, obtaining student consent for changes in educational science is not easy and could prove to be a long-term process.

5. Data as evidence: Perception data or feedback from principals, faculty, curriculum designers, and students is an important source of information for understanding participants’ experiences at various levels.

6. Commitment to leadership and alignment with university goals: Online learning and blended learning are not the priorities of most universities in the Arab world and their implementation can be met with resistance from staff and faculty. It is precisely for this reason that leadership support is needed.

7. Accreditation: Although governments across the Arab region, albeit to varying degrees, grant approval to universities wishing to offer blended learning or a limited number of online courses (as part of the residency degree program), they have not been establish policies or procedures. An existing national accreditation will be awarded to full-fledged online degree programs. Clear steps need to be taken around the introduction of this process and quality indicators that need to be addressed to achieve this.

This study was written in collaboration with Dr. Glenda Stamp, Educational Research Scientist, MIT Open Learning Program and Brandon Muramatsu, Associate Director, Special Projects Division, MIT Open Learning Program and Dr. Samar Farah, Director of the research at the Abd Foundation Allah Al Ghurair for Education, and Dr. Vijay Kumar, Associate Dean for Digital Education and Executive Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Global Education Lab at MIT.

The study project began with a preliminary meeting in Dubai in 2017 in the presence of representatives of the four institutions, followed by a design field at the American University of Cairo which included lecturers, directors and curriculum designers from the American University of Cairo. and the American University of Beirut and met with experts specializing in course content, training, design and evaluation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology online course.


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