Massive Open Online Courses to Enhance Education in Arab World

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are free, interactive web-based classes spanning a wide range of topics and featuring prominent professors and lecturers from top U.S. universities such as Harvard, Princeton, University of California, Berkeley and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The courses are primarily taught in English and target Western audiences, but with the development of the Edraak, an online learning platform founded by the Queen Rania Foundation using technology developed by the Harvard-MIT consortium, edX, they may soon be available in Arabic and feature more courses specific to the Arab region. As part of Edraak’s plan to create MOOCs for an Arab audience, representatives from the Queen Rania Foundation will be presenting the new initiative to the AUC community tomorrow to garner interest from faculty members who may want to develop MOOCs of their own and to discuss potential future collaboration with the University. The presentation will be held at 1 pm in the Conference and Visitor Center, room P020. “Edraak will be translating MOOCs from Harvard and other universities into Arabic so they can reach the Arab world in general,” said Aziza Ellozy, professor of practice and director of the Center for Learning and Teaching. “They also want to develop original courses of their own, which will be in Arabic and in English, to highlight Arab world leaders, models, scholars and experts in their respective fields, particularly on subject matters that are distinctive to the region.” AUC, with its wide range of course offerings, could play a prominent role in such a collaborative initiative, Ellozy explained. “At AUC, there are courses on Egyptology as well as Islamic art and architecture, and much more specific courses on the local environment and economy. These are all particular to Egypt. If these courses are put online, they can add to the large number of courses that are being offered abroad and will feature experts from the Arab world.” Courses typically span a period of six weeks, after which students could obtain certificates of completion. Prior to the announcement of MOOCs Arabic-language portal, two other language and region-oriented MOOCs initiatives were successfully launched in China and France.