The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) showcased its leadership in the integration of mobile learning and technologies in the classroom when it recently hosted the Mobile Learning Festival at the HCT-Dubai Men’s College as part of the annual Professional Development (PD) week.
The PD day, devoted to mobile learning, provided HCT faculty and staff members with the opportunity to share ideas, network with fellow professionals and learn the latest, industry best practices on an interactive and collegial basis. In addition the festival complemented the HCT’s core philosophies of Learning by Doing and the integration of mobile technologies.
Dr Tayeb Kamali, Vice Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology, told the audience of over 1000 that the festival was vital to HCT’s ongoing success as a leader in higher education. “To develop the best students we need highly trained and qualified educators and managers and we therefore need to keep up with the latest developments, trends and best practices. This is an excellent opportunity to ensure our faculty members’ skills and knowledge are continually enhanced, expanded and taken to the next level,” he said.
The Vice Chancellor reminded the gathering that as 2015 has been declared as the Year of Innovation in the UAE, institutions such as HCT must follow the Government’s directives to ensure that education and technology will work together to drive innovation.
HCT faculty and staff attended 55 sessions which covered the best practices in mobile learning, providing a wide variety of learning options – from new technologies, mobile learning Apps, e-Portfolios, virtual and mobile classrooms, iPad use and many more. Some sessions were conducted virtually using the HCT educational technologies where the presenters presented from outside the UAE. The topics also covered applied research areas in mobile learning fields.
Dr Kamali said it was important for HCT to build on its success in technology integration across its colleges, with events such as the festival. Examples of HCT’s successes in mobile technology included:
- the 2012 iPad initiative with 14,000 iPads distributed to students
- The world’s largest e-Textbook implementation strategy with over 150,000 e-Textbooks made available to students for free
- Establishing the HCT Smart Apps Bank
- A joint HCT-Ministry of Labour Smart Drone project
- HCT students’ successes at the 2014 M-Government Best Service Awards
- The creation of a dedicated Ed Tech Website for e-Learning and Technology
- Strong industry partnerships with Apple and Microsoft in mobile learning, including 150 HCT teachers trained as Microsoft Certified Fellows
- Simulation based learning for students through various Apps and programmes on tablets
- The Sharjah Women’s College’s Online Learning Zone, catering for up to 1000 students per day
Another feature of m-Learning resources at HCT is the creation of Ed Tech resource rooms for faculty members. These are new Apple-based work areas which offer support, training and technology tools to HCT teachers wanting to create iBooks, KeyNote presentations and other learning tools and lesson plans that will be used on iPads.
“Our colleges are leaders in technology integration throughout the UAE and the region and I am pleased that many of the workshops saw technology integration, mobile learning Apps and specific programmes being discussed and shared. This is very important as our teaching methods are increasingly based on mobile or e-Learning, which is rapidly changing,” Dr Kamali said.
“All sessions relate to student engagement and student retention, which is of vital importance. The variety of workshops shows the importance of mobile technology integration in all programmes within the HCT system,” he added.
During the festival, Dr Kamali also inaugurated the fifth edition of the UAE Journal of Educational Technology and eLearning, which is a special edition dedicated to ePortfolios.
The festival helped faculty members in a number of ways:
- Helping HCT faculty to be expert in Technology Use, Digital Learning Objects, Content Creation and Pedagogy
- Reinforcing HCT’s commitment to Learning by Doing
- The implementation an Ed Tech competency-based PD Framework to train faculty in technology modules and obtain relevant certification
- Training new Emirati faculty members, particularly those entering the 170@17 teacher training initiative
The HCT collaborated with a number of strategic partners to ensure the high standard of the festival including experts from Pearson Education, Apple Inc and Blackboard.