HCT Academic Forum Showcases ‘Hybrid Education’ Model & Celebrates Faculty Excellence in Teaching & Community Service
The HCT Academic Forum, which marked the start of the 2021-2022 academic year, explored the institution’s "Hybrid Education" model, its system-wide implementation and the re-engineering the campuses under this model, in line with the HCT’s vision of establishing the Campus of Tomorrow.
The forum also highlighted the HCT Startup Development Program and the HCT’s key role in supporting economic development by graduating Emirati companies and entrepreneurs. A feature of the event was awarding faculty for their excellence in their teaching practices and community service.
Approximately 600 faculty and staff from HCT’s Dubai & Sharjah campuses attended the forum in person, joined by 600 faculty and staff members from the other HCT campuses, via online attendance. The limited in-person attendances highlighted HCT continuous commitment to full compliance with all necessary precautionary health measures and safety requirements.
Dr. Abdullatif AlShamsi, HCT President & CEO, in his welcome speech, said the HCT’s experience in implementing the “Hybrid Education” model is a distinct one, as it has progressed from adopting the model as a solitary solution during COVID-19 to implementing it as a new educational model which combines on-campus and distance learning, in line with the institution's applied education needs.
Dr. AlShamsi said the "Hybrid Education" system’s success was dependent upon HCT leadership’s clear vision to optimize the model for the benefit of all stakeholders, including students and teachers, while improving institutional performance in general. As a result, the model has brought new opportunities for students to study flexibly at any time and from any place.
He added that "Hybrid Education" supports HCT’s journey of excellence by providing qualitative education with advanced and innovative methods and tools, and re-engineering campuses to suit the focus on applied education. He noted this success largely depends on the digital readiness of the educational institution, as well as the teachers and students.
Dr. AlShamsi presented a future vision for the educational buildings in the HCT campuses, under the Hybrid Model. He said this process has commenced with the digital transformation, combining real and virtual classrooms, re-engineering the campus, providing open laboratories for male and female students, creating spaces for social gatherings, communication, discussion and extra-curricular activities, and providing spaces directed to support creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and applied activities that increase fun and passion for learning.
Dr. Al Shamsi noted that since the launch of the HCT InnCuVation Spaces in 2019, with the aim of transforming students’ innovative ideas and projects into startups, the HCT Startup Development Program had engaged 2,316 students and established 108 startups, 26 of which gained commercial trade licenses, and 20 secured their positions in the market.
He stressed that the future is open for entrepreneurs and startups, thanks to the support, care, and encouragement of the UAE’s wise leadership.
Dr. Al Shamsi highlighted how the campuses achieved the necessary balance between the two components of "Hybrid Education" - on-campus education and distance education - in order to achieve the best educational outcomes.
He noted the proportion of remote education had reached 60% in the General Studies Program, 33% in Applied Media, 22% in Engineering, 23% in Business, 48% in Education, 35% in Health Sciences, and 27% Computer Information Science. These percentages will change in due course.
Dr. Alex Zahavich, HCT Chief Academic Officer, talked about the implementation of the Hybrid Education model at the academic level and the resulting challenges being, such as striking a balance between theoretical content and applied requirements, while maintaining quality in educational attainment. Other challenge was working on diversifying sources of education, training and innovating evaluation techniques and methods that guarantee credibility, transparency, and equality among all students during the distance education period.
Nicola Bettio, HCT Executive Director of Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, spoke of the vital role faculty members play in supporting entrepreneurship among students and in guiding and encouraging them to implement projects and innovative solutions. These innovations have the potential to be the genesis of promising future companies, which can be incubated and developed within the Startup Development Program at the HCT InnCuVation Spaces.
A number of students showcased their innovations incubated at the HCT InnCuVation Spaces, explaining how these ideas were developed and nurtured to become startups.
The forum concluded with Dr. AlShamsi honoring distinguished faculty members for their outstanding performance in different academic programs and majors, as well as in the area of entrepreneurship and community service.