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Conference to Discuss Digital Transformation of Universities in the Middle East

The upcoming Times Higher Education Digital Universities MENA 2022 conference in Abu Dhabi will discuss how some countries in the region successfully changed their university teaching practices during the coronavirus pandemic and how such digital successes can be permanently adapted.

Charlotte Coles, head of content at Times Higher Education (THE) who is moderating several panels, said many countries in the Middle East and North Africa region had “shown exemplary efforts in transitioning their institutions to a hybrid future that would ultimately better serve their students and society. We hope to use these timely conversations to further accelerate progress in the area.”

One panel will discuss the digital success of Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan University.  After the pandemic struck, the Saudi Education Ministry set up distance learning for six million students and established 25 educational satellite channels. Other governments across the region are also working on new incentives to drive digital transformation and internationalisation to help their students find jobs and be in the vanguard of the digital economy.

Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa University of Science and Technology is co-hosting the three day THE Digital Universities MENA 2022 conference at the university’s main campus on September 12 to 14.

THE’S specialists are moderating 14 of the conference’s 16 panels, which will discuss topics such as “How Technology Will Unlock World-Class Universities in MENA” and “How We Can Transform and Enhance Technical Solutions for the Post-Covid Campus”.

3 Main Themes

There are three main themes to the conference agenda: accelerating campus transformation, world-class teaching and learning innovation, and revolutionising students’ experience online.

The conference will discuss how to teach faculty members to deliver education online; technology to support the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics); how to apply the science of learning to new education technology; blended learning (face-to-face and online instruction); what the curriculum will look like for the class of 2030; making sure students have the skills for future employability and the digital economy; transforming college admissions through technology; and building digital communities on and off campus.

The event will bring together education leaders, policy makers and industry partners to explore how educational institutions across the region can embrace this digital transformation.

Phil Baty, THE’S chief knowledge officer, will open the conference with Sir John O’Reilly, president of Khalifa University. The United Arab Emirates’ Minister of Education His Excellency Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi will give the ministerial address, titled “MENA’S Higher Education Revolution Has Only Just Begun”. The minister is also deputy chairman of Emirates Development Bank.

THE’s campus senior content curator Miranda Prynne,  Special Projects Editor Alistair Lawrence and Regional Subscription Director Simon Markey will  moderate panels.

Al-Fanar Media journalist Samar Kadi will moderate a panel titled “Revolutionising the Student Experience Online: Challenges and Opportunities” and Torunn Gjelsvik, secretary general of the International Council for Open and Distance Education, will moderate another on “Designing a Benchmarking Framework for Online, Open, Smart and Technology-Oriented Higher Education”. The International Council for Open and Distance Education is a global membership association and a not-for-profit, nongovernmental organisation hosted in Norway

Workshops and Lectures

There will be workshops and lectures on “Upskilling the MENA Region Through Online Learning”, analytics, and “Upholding Academic Integrity Online”, as well as a panel on “The Information Technology Leadership Needed for a Smart, Sustainable Campus” and another on cybercrime, “How to Protect Your Institution from Future Threats”.

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In “Towards Intelligent and Agile Futures for Learning”, Philip Baty will discuss the new opportunities that Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) offer education with Vijay Kumar, executive director of the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT is in the top half dozen universities in the world in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Vijay Kumar previously held the Exxon Mobile Chair of Technology-Enabled Learning at the University of Qatar.

The event will also showcase cutting-edge start-ups and the latest technologies that will be needed in education in the next decade.

Related Reading

Unesco Praises Saudi Arabia’s Successful Pivot to Distance Learning During Covid-19

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