Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University launches first of its kind initiative for classification of smart universities globally
In line with its vision to help reshape the future of the UAE’s education system and reinforce the country’s global leadership in this field, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU) has launched the first-of-its-kind ‘Benchmarking Framework and Data Set for Online, Open, Smart and Technology-enhanced Higher Education,’ a global initiative developed to help in the formulation of standards for universities in their continuing move to adopt a smart education system. Five prestigious international organizations and four global universities in addition to HBMSU from the UAE, took part in the project launched on the sideline of the 12th Innovation Arabia Conference under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and President of HBMSU. A total of 1,200 researchers from 50 countries participated in the conference’s latest edition held under the theme ‘Building Smart Communities: Balancing Innovation, Change and Transformation’.
The initiative was signed by HE Dr. Amr Ezzat Salama, Secretary General of the Association of Arab Universities; Dr. Maria Garr, Director of Uninettuno University, Italy and Representative of The European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU); Prof Dato’ Ansary Ahmed, President of Asia e-university in Malesia; Prof. Melinda Dela Pena Bandalaria, President of Philippines Open University and Representative of the Asian Association of Open Universities; Prof. Badr AboulEla, President of the Arab Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ANQAHE); Dr. Alice Harrison, Executive Director of Open Polytechnic of New Zealand; and Dr. Mansoor Al Awar, HBMSU Chancellor.
Dr. Al Awar noted that the launch of the framework is important for the evaluation and classification of smart and e-learning universities; which will in turn establish the UAE as the key partner in crafting the standards for smart education designed to produce entrepreneurs and ambassadors of knowledge rather than mere job seekers. He also took pride in the project, the first-of-its-kind in the world and is pioneered by the UAE in the efforts to redefine smart education and make history in this field. The initiative is a major leap in developing a successful and unified global model of smart education.
He said: “The new initiative puts us at HBMSU on the list of top 10 smart universities in the world, reinforcing anew our pivotal role in maintaining our country’s leadership in enriching knowledge and promoting a culture of smart learning regionally and internationally. This achievement is in accordance with the highest standards of quality and innovation as we aim to build skilled generations capable of creating a better and more secure and sustainable future.”
Dr. Al Awar added: “We will continue to work on providing a unique learning experience by reengineering the future of teaching and learning through technology, innovation, scientific research, and other new educational tools. This commitment is in line with the directives of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and President of HBMSU. We aim to produce graduates who are armed with economic knowledge and empowered with the right innovation and knowledge tools necessary to create a bright future for all. We look forward to working with major international organizations to set clear benchmarks that will enable the academic community to adopt smart learning and a lifelong learning approach, keeping in mind the need to use our expertise in driving innovation and creativity based on modern standards.”
Dr. Al Awar also pointed out that the criteria for evaluation and classification of online, open, smart, and technology-enhanced higher education is the first of its kind in the world. He said that new standards reflect the education systems adopted by the smart universities; which will contribute to the issuance of a periodic evaluation and classification table for the other institutions that adopts a different approach in terms of courses and outputs, teaching methods and study hours. This is similar to the known lists and table that is issued by international entities for the classification and rankings of other higher education institutions.
Under this pioneering initiative, HBMSU will use its accumulated expertise as the first educational hub for smart learning in the UAE and Arab world to establish a Benchmarking Framework and Data Set for Online, Open, Smart and Technology and Communications enhanced Higher Education and in the framework of the fruitful collaboration with major international organizations. This step comes in response to the growing need to find a clear and specific mechanism to unite all smart universities amid the rapid technological developments. The initiativewill also establish a flexible, quality education that meets the aspirations of the learners. The new standards are of great importance in terms of enabling decision makers, policy makers, scientific research and funding institutions, the academic community, students, parents, businesses and all concerned to assess the quality of educational outcomes of information and communications technology (ICT)-driven universities – based on scientific foundations that ensure the provision of reliable information and new trends.
HBMSU is set to establish an international consortium of experienced and interested stakeholders in ICT-driven higher education to develop and operate a benchmarking data set to evaluate, classify and compare smarteducation institutions. The consortium will agree on a general framework for measurement and evaluation that reflects the quality of work of online, open, smart and technology-enhanced higher education; and present appropriate measurement tools and system in the collection, assessment, classification, and comparison of data that institutions can benefit from and use. Over time, these data can be developed into a deployable performance assessment scale that supports this initiative and provides the basis for continuous improvement among members.
It was agreed that the framework would be established through joint efforts and meetings of working group members. They would also need to agree on appropriate indicators and measurement tools as well as examine the data and make improvements to the plan and design. The performance measurement framework will focus on optimal levels of quality and improve the reputation and credibility of online, open, smart, and technology-enhanced higher education.