Friday, January 14

MAKNAZ - The Saudi Repository for Learning Objects

"The Maknaz project provides a complete solution for the implementation, customisation, maintenance and support of a reliable and effective online learning environment, including all the required hardware for sustaining a highly sophisticated environment supporting 22 leading national universities."
- Abdullah Al Mogheerah (NCEL's Manager for Planning & PMO)

Bob Little ranked Abdullah Al Mogheerah as the 4th most influential person in the corporate e-learning world in 2011 (on Jan 4, 2011)

MAKNAZ (or Treasure Chest)?

"The National Center of E-learning and Distance Learning (NCEL) guides the various efforts of Saudi higher education institutions to develop digital content, enrich the curricula and facilitate learning to achieve excellence in the educational process as a whole...As a result, an electronic national repository has been built to facilitate the process of developing, archiving, retrieving, reusing and sharing of learning objects. The national repository will support the efforts of Saudi universities and serve as a basis for building digital curricula with higher quality and less cost..." - Source

In developing and implementing Maknaz, NCEL has been working closely with eXact learning solutions, and they have fused "eXact LCMS and Harvestroad Hive DR infrastructures to provide a nationwide digital marketplace within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia...Academics and students use the HarvestRoad Hive DR to share and access a wide array of educational materials. The eXact LCMS and other collaboration tools are used to facilitate the production and management of online learning contents." - Source

Maknaz is "integrated with all NCEL's internal repositories, including Qanatech and the Saudi Digital Library (SDL) as well as with a network of over 36 international repositories, making it possible for Maknaz users to search for contents across all these repositories." - Source

The problem with many Learning Object Repositories (LOR) in the past was populating the repository quickly (too costly and too few people willing to share), and attracting people to use it. In general, people will only visit the LOR, and continue to use it if they can easily find content relevant to their areas of interest.

Interestingly, Maknaz empowers users to search for (and filter) contents across more than 36 international repositories, including ARIADNE, NSDL, University of Cambridge, MIT (OpenCourseware), IDEALS @ Illinois, JorumOpen, Delft University of Technology, Johns Hopkins University (MUSE Project) and Hong Kong University. By doing so, users have access from one search box more than one million learning resources (objects/items), which makes it immediately attractive to find potential learning resource gems.

So, while Maknaz is being populated with local content from Universities around Saudi Arabia, Maknaz has already an immediate attraction with its federated search across multiple learning repositories around the world.

To go beyond just focusing on developing and sharing content, Maknaz has areas for communities, forums and blogs to bloom, which is great to spark connections and facilitate collaborations among users.

The big challenge with such massive projects is getting buy-in by stake holders (Universities, academics, students, etc.), changing people's learning and sharing mindset from copyright to copyleft (or Creative Commons), and creating an environment where honest discussions and constructive criticism can flow without disruption and fear.

Having now been to Saudi Arabia twice for educational purposes (Nov 2008: 2 E-Learning workshops and Jan 2010: E-Learning Audit of Universities), I am still amazed how fast they are moving ahead with e-learning and investing in the infrastructure to make it happen.

What is even more encouraging and exciting was meeting several young upcoming academics during the process, who have brilliant ideas, and are very passionate about innovating the way they learn, and empower students to learn. I remember even one E-Learning Dean, who told me that he woke up at night having dreams about e-learning. I am passionate about learning and e-learning, but I have yet to have any dreams to testify that.

Finally, having a passionate and strategically driven NCEL push forward with so many innovative projects, hosting conferences, and providing tons of training programs (for both men and women) to support the development of the learning nation, and topping that with a growing group of academics hungry to learn and innovate, it will certainly be interesting to see how the transformation of Saudi Higher Education unfolds in the future :)


khaeradania said...

salam kenal aja, sayang aku ngga bisa bahasa inggris, ada baiknya jika disediakan juga translator ke bahasa indonesia

Time2Act said...

Though not Saudi national,as a witness I agree with you that Saudi community is moving steadily towards knowledge era. Although from inside we are not so satisfied (sometimes) with the quality of performance, I have to admit that authorities and government save no effort to support and afford any new technology. However, in K12 education, more effort is needed.

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

Dear Yasser Massoud,

thanks for the valuable input... And having passionate and knowledgeable people like yourself working there things can surely get better :)

The Saudi landscape is a tough and large nut to crack in terms of providing good bandwidth, excellent technological infrastructure and having top notch teachers at all corners of the country... Anything is possible, but it takes time :(

In short, it will be interesting to see how K-12 education evolves.... Let's realize that it is as or even more important than higher education, because without a good foundation, the quality of students coming through would suffer when moving up and as a result it will have a negative impact on society and business in the long run. Therefore investing intensively and smartly is critical :)

Thanks & warm regards,


berita selebritis said...

yeah...that's the right info...