Founder/President, Future Institute of Higher Education and Training
Since its establishment in 1991, the Future Institute of Higher Education and Training has continually played a crucial role in empowering young Saudis; constantly expanding in terms of geographical presence, client profile, course offerings, and accreditation of its courses. The decision was made to open this institute with a secure entity that could provide solid support in terms of designing the curriculum and compiling current and future courses. This strong framework has meant we currently have international accreditation for programs in every established department in addition to a popular higher diploma program. The current demand in the field of education ties in with the new reality involving COVID-19. Taking the new normal into consideration, the immediate plan is to bring our institute into trainees’ homes by adapting many of our courses to suit quality online learning through innovative teaching platforms such as Zoom. The hope is that the excellent distance learning delivered by our facility will provide alternative learning of choice, not only in the current climate but also in the future.
Dean, Prince Mohammad Bin Salman College (MBSC)
MBSC has been in a favorable position to adapt to the challenges that COVID-19 has brought. We are a highly selective school focused on small-scale, high-quality, and highly personalized education. We did not have large numbers of students and participants in our programs, and that allowed us to adjust almost overnight. We have pretty much continued with our model of personalized engagement through synchronous online teaching. Our degree and executive education program participants have been online in a virtual learning environment and are in touch with our faculty. What will remain for the future is our flexibility in education. The unit of teaching now is much more topic based—the faculty teaches topics rather than courses. This allows them to teach smaller groups for shorter periods of time. This flexible model involves blocks of varying lengths of teaching, study groups, and tutorials with varying numbers of students has allowed us to have a highly personal touch and ensure the learning effectiveness of our participants through a more challenging and unfamiliar channel.
CEO, Bassam Al-Bokhari
During the pandemic, we focused our work and remaining aligned with our plan in terms of training and education. We have almost 2,000-3,000 young Saudis coming to our three institutes every day, and we had to ensure they remained safe and that their education was not interrupted after the lockdown was announced. Our previous investments in the institute allowed us to quickly adapt to the pandemic. Even before the pandemic, we were using a great deal of technology, such as iPads and other smart learning solutions, in our teaching, so we were almost semi digital at the time. We started on our digital learning journey, and the first thing we did was to train our technical trainers. We have three institutes and had to connect with students in 19 cities, as everyone returned home for the lockdown. We started our business continuity plan by adjusting our procedures and working with international accreditations. We test our trainees every day to ensure they are healthy, and we monitor them at the weekends. We also have an emergency response committee, which we set up all remotely.
CEO, National Company for Learning and Education (NCLE)
The reason we have succeeded was not due to technology. We did adapt with the technology and were ready before the pandemic took place; however, technology did not play a crucial role—our people did. We have teachers who deeply care, no matter how skillful they are. There are teachers who are 70-plus who barely knew how to use WhatsApp, but suddenly they adopted it and learned how to use it to teach their students. We have been successful in terms of how our people adapted to the new reality of using technology to educate students. Moving forward, schools will remain as schools in our minds. There will be a percentage of students that may choose to continue being homeschooled. With new technology and the adoption of technology in 2020 and 2021, the educational industry has realized in one year what was projected to be realized in four or five years. The role of teachers has also dramatically changed from being a source of information to being a moderator inside a classroom and enabling students to search for information the right way.
SAUDI ARABIA - Industry
President, Royal Commission for Jubail & Yanbu
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