AUC, UNESCO New Blended Learning Online Course Empowers Arabic Teachers
Aiming to increase high-quality online Arabic content in Egypt and the Arab region, AUC’s Graduate School of Education is partnering with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to launch an open-content, blended learning course designed for Arabic-speaking teachers, particularly those in public schools.
In addition to the online component, the course will also be offered at AUC as a blended learning class, a combination of face-to-face and online instruction. “Blended learning facilitates [things] in terms of not having to show up on a daily basis,” said Gihan Osman, assistant professor of instruction design and technology at AUC. “It is a privilege for people living in remote governorates and are still keen on developing their skills.”
The 12-week professional development course, titled Egyptian ICT/CFT [Information and Communications Technology/Competency Framework for Teachers] Teacher Professional Development, aims to increase and enhance Arabic online content, empower educators in the Arab world through the use of technology in their teaching practice, as well as contribute to the development of Egypt’s education system.
The course is currently in a pilot phase with 20 Egyptian teachers for evaluation, review and refinement. It will then be uploaded on the UNESCO’s ICT Competency Framework for Teachers Open Education Resources Commons –– the first time for Arabic or Egyptian-based content to be a part of this hub.
There is a scarcity of valuable online Arabic content offered, not only for people in Egypt, but across the Arab world. “The main aim of partnering with UNESCO is to turn the course into an Arabic project, rather than an Egyptian one, that serves all Arabic speakers worldwide,” said Osman. “The Arab world has a population of over 400 million, mostly fluent in Arabic, yet Arabic content online does not exceed 5 percent. What is more, the quality and value of the content is debatable.”
The course mainly targets teachers working in public schools who have basic access to technological and financial resources and also have setbacks in accessing a high-quality training on technology. “It requires basic technological tools that are being used on daily basis like a very basic mobile phone with minimal financial and technological resources,” she said.
According to Osman, the idea of offering an Arabic course targeting teachers started when AUC received comments from Arabic-speaking teachers that they’d like to develop their skills by attending development courses at the University, but that language is a barrier. “Having an open-content, professional development course in Arabic is actually very important for developing countries,” affirmed Osman.
Offering the course at AUC is also an added advantage for teachers, Osman noted. “When we called for teachers to apply for the course at AUC as a trial, we received around 200 applications in one week from teachers from all around Egypt,” she said. “Our challenge now is to accommodate all applicants.”
The AUC course requires that applicants to be actively working teachers in order to practically apply whatever they’re learning in their classes, Osman added.
How It Began
A collaboration between AUC and the UNESCO’s regional office in Cairo started a year ago to create an ‘open,’ professional development course based on UNESCO’s Information and Communications Technology Competency Framework for Teachers.
“By open, we mean that it is developed to be there for people to use without even asking for our permission,” said Osman. “What is need is only to attribute that this course was initially developed by AUC in partnership with UNESCO. It can even be updated to adapt to every country and target clientele.”
The course doesn’t include any tests, but it’s all about creating content that could be used in class and as a reference for all teachers in the Arab region later on. “It actually feels great to witness the teachers’ gratitude and appreciation for how flexible and useful the course is, which is actually what matters the most to us,” affirmed Osman.
The course is a UNESCO-led initiative, in partnership with the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization.