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President & CEO of HCT’s Interview at Bb World 2019: “Role of Ed Tech and eLearning”

Blackboard has been with HCT for the last 10 years, so we are big users of Blackboard technology

We provide a good test bed for many of the solutions being proposed by Blackboard and also we try to help Blackboard in accommodating certain solutions that we think, with the change in the new education system that is being introduced, that can be adapted.

So we have a Centre of Excellence now being established with Blackboard, and this Centre of Excellence is starting with the e-Teacher certification to standardize the level of qualification for teachers’ pedagogy in teaching and learning, not only in the UAE but the whole Middle East region. That is helping us a lot.

But also to be able to test different solutions today that are being introduced by Blackboard and how we can accommodate that and give feedback to Blackboard as well.

Today It is a very fundamental role to provide high quality PD for our faculty and to cope with the technology. I strongly believe that today the true bottleneck is to upgrade our faculty with the different learning tools, with the different technologies, with e-learning and so on.

Yet we find our students are coping easily with that.

Now it’s a moving target. It doesn’t stay at one level. So we find our faculty with continuous training. Now with the e-Teacher that has been implemented with Blackboard that is helping us a lot with that, but it does not stay at one level.

We keep adding those different training modules continuously to certify our faculty to be able to utilize Blackboard more efficiently. This is our aim and more importantly to standardize the professional qualifications of our faculty when it comes to pedagogy and teaching and learning.

e-Learning today is not a luxury for an academic institution. It is a must, we know that. We are dealing with the Z Generation. They are more into the technology. They are more native in using the technology and it has to be integrated and built into our system. So it is not a choice for HCT or for any other academic institution. It is a must. However, how do we make it exciting? How do we integrate it? How we make the mobile learning a part of the day-to-day operation for our students. It is becoming more of an essential. And this is what we are trying to do at HCT.

In essence, today we focus a lot on the entrepreneurship and graduating companies. This is what makes HCT 4.0 different from any other organization. But, what I like about e-learning, and Blackboard specifically, is that they are coping with these kinds of changes; coping with the new strategies.

So this is where the disruption comes in academia. Disruption is not by implementing simple tools in e-learning. Disruption is introducing a new concept and using the e-learning and using the technology to be part of that new mission we want to achieve.