A couple of years ago I was very fortunate to be part of the first National e-Learning Audit (team) of Universities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), and during this wonderful learning journey I got to visit some of the top Universities there offering e-learning in a variety of flavors. However, since that journey I have mostly kept my learning discoveries out of this blog.
However, today I thought: "Lets' share with you all one of those e-learning pearls." Actually, since this e-learning pearl loves to share its' own e-learning journey in a comprehensive documented manner, it is rather easy. Here we go:
QASSIM COLLEGE OF MEDICINE
To really understand what I mean by e-learning pearl, let's look at some of their e-learning statistics: (Source):
- All (100%) courses use e-learning.
- More than two million hits monthly (Only 749 registered users... WOW!).
- Each visit a user opens 19.7 Pages/Visit.
- Number of courses now online is 45 for this year, total 149 since launch.
- Number of registered staff members is 123.
- Number of online discussions is 19000 (Another...WOW!).
- Number of resources is 2300 lectures (Not bad!).
- Average 580 visits to the sites daily this month, total 20000 visits/month, 60-140 % of college students' daily online (note that double visits are common).
- 151 e-learning satisfaction surveys since launch.
- 51 completed electronic paperless exams in the exam center.
- Three complete sets of clinical exams available online either for download or streaming.
- A dedicated video streaming site for training videos.
- ITunes site with physical exams.
- 8 workshops conducted on e-learning this year (2011).
- First to launch a (Moodle) mobile app for a College in KSA and in The Middle East (Not sure about that!).
- 45000 hits from mobile phones.
Interestingly, they are also a member of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, and through their Learning Management System (Moodle) they have made available 12 complete online courses for free.
All this is good, but what really caught my wondering mind's attention was that they had managed to create something really special that most of the other Universities we visited (at that time) had not and that was an...(Shall I continue? Exciting or what!)
EMPOWERED (E-)LEARNING CULTURE
They had managed to facilitate a common culture among staff (and students) that empowered all members to create content, manage interaction, communicate with students, release grades, and many other activities. Among the remarkable men that I met at the College, I was really impressed with Mohammed Saqr; The Assistant Professor of Medicine, who self-converted himself to become the e-learning supervisor of the e-Learning Unit.
Impressively, all of their e-learning systems have been developed/customized in house. All of the software used is open source, and they have proven that community projects are viable and represent an alternative solution for the highly expensive commercial solutions. According to Mohammed Saqr they amazingly spent only around 100 US dollars a year to host all their e-learning services.
Yes, the college staff (Doctors) do the upgrade, maintenance, and day to day help. And they are honored to proclaim that NO single contribution by any company or any support of any kind outside the college, all support and planning is done by their staff members.
They have changed the whole assessment process to use digital examination. Today, their exam labs are being copied in other colleges, and the question bank will be generalized in KSA. Online surveys and user feedback has become the base of decision making in the college.
Their mobile learning portal enables every student to access his lectures and learning materials anytime. The college has also produced many simulation videos, DVDs, manuals, booklets, e-learning workshops and made them available FREE TO THE WORLD.
They have also published two international papers (I need to find them, NOW!), and according to the site they are working on 10 ongoing research projects.
Finally, the College has a strict policy regarding copyrights, every user has to agree before using their facilities; the policy respects the rights of others and disseminates the culture of copyrights (whatever that means!).
I wish, copyrights will just go away, and I could live happily in a copyleft world! Or better yet, a CREATIVE COMMONS world!
Overall, I was really impressed 2 years ago, and I am still impressed with what they are achieving (of what I am seeing), especially in empowering everyone to get involved and inspire learning. Now, that is an e-learning pearl... I arrest my case :)