Blackboard and the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) largest education institution, extended their partnership to create the first Blackboard Center of Excellence in Digital Education, in the Middle East, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
Signed in the presence of Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi, Vice Chancellor of HCT, Dr. Jihad Mohaidat, Executive Dean – Ed Tech of HCT and Bill Ballhaus, Chairman, CEO and President of Blackboard, the main goal of the MOU is to create a dedicated facility to help teachers improve their knowledge of educational technology (edtech) solutions, and to develop a community of skilled professionals who can become future leaders in digital education.
In today’s technology-driven and dynamic globalized economy, education institutions must adapt to the rapidly changing requirements and demands of students, who are technology aware and more connected than ever before, and who expect education and learning to be similarly advanced. Moreover, in 2010 the UAE government launched the UAE Vision 2021, which sets the key themes for the socio-economic development of the country and calls for a shift to a diversified and knowledge-based economy.
To deliver on this vision and meet the needs of the learners, HCT has implemented a strategy for ‘Transforming Applied Higher Education’, which includes investing in academic excellence, promoting innovative learning approaches, maintaining student success at the highest possible standards, and ensuring graduate employability. The HCT also provides its educators and students with world-class facilities that support individualized, blended and distance learning.
“Investing in smart technologies in the education field is a strategic goal for HCT, which is reflected in the high performance of the colleges, and which is taking the HCT towards entrepreneurship and excellence,” His Excellency Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al-Falasi, UAE Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, and Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of technology, said.
“We are in the midst of rapid technological changes, such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and cloud computing, which require us to employ advanced skills in utilizing this technology to reach the targets of UAE’s centennial and the National Higher Education Strategy,” His Excellency added.
His Excellency added that this cooperation between the two parties is a high-quality leap towards smart technology transformation, which will help HCT faculty acquire advanced skills so that HCT attains greater student learning outcomes.
“As a result our generations will work in vital sectors of the UAE and they will help build the knowledge economy, as well as competitiveness,” he said.
“This agreement with Blackboard is an important milestone,” Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi, Vice Chancellor of HCT, said.
“Our organizations have been working closely for many years and this MOU will further strengthen our partnership and empower our educators and staff with the necessary knowledge and tools they need to be successful today and tomorrow. Eventually, this will also benefit our students, equipping them with much-required skills,” Dr. Al Shamsi added.
“A critical figure of this digital revolution is a competent, well-trained, and digitally fluent educator,” Hani Al Shadli Senior Regional Managerof Blackboard, said. “Institutions recognize that it is no longer acceptable to have only a handful of technologically capable instructors if they want to attract students and help them become more employable and successful. The Center of Excellence, leveraging our eTeacher certification program, will empower educators with the right competencies to successfully use technology in their pedagogical approach.”
Blackboard has been working with HCT for almost two decades to develop and enhance the educational experience and to better support students in the UAE and is focused on delivering an integrated, flexible platform able to provide a unique connected experience throughout its entire portfolio.