On Tuesday, 3 September 2019, SQU organized a ceremony to launch a trial platform for Massive Open Online Courses (SQUMOOC) at the University, which introduced the first course to be offered through it titled “Digital Citizenship”. The ceremony was held under the patronage of HE Dr. Hamood Khalfan Al Harthi, Undersecretary for Education & Curriculum at the Ministry of Education.
The platform is a by-product of two funded research projects at Sultan Qaboos University, led by Dr. Aisha Al-Harthi from the College of Education. These are: (1) a project titled “Designing, developing, implementing and evaluating an effective MOOC at Sultan Qaboos University” funded by The Deanship of Research at Sultan Qaboos University; and, (2) a project titled” Developing Distance Education for Higher Education Institutions in Oman through MOOCs: Design, Impact, and Culturally-Appropriate Modeling” funded by The Research Council in Oman.
Dr. Aisha Al-Harthi said that MOOCs are courses that are offered by many universities across the world to provide knowledge to the public, without having to officially enroll in the universities. These courses have the capability to enroll large numbers of students. The vision for the platform at Sultan Qaboos University is to support lifelong learning, enrich human knowledge for individuals and improve their professional capabilities, and create effective partnership with the community towards an interactive and digital partnership.
“Anyone with interest in MOOCs can register to take the courses through the platform using the newly created link (mooc.squ.edu.om). There are no special skills or prior experiences needed to take the currently offered course, “Digital Citizenship”. However self-learning is critical for individuals to succeed in this kind of education to dedicate time and effort to watch the course videos, participate in course activities and do the required assessments. This course is currently offered in the Arabic language, but future courses can be in English for a wider audience. Upon finishing the course, students will be awarded a completion certificate in addition to badges that will be awarded based on gaining certain skills”, Dr. Aisha Al-Harthi said.
The “Digital Citizenship” course that runs for one month starts on 3 September 2019 and ends on 3 October. The course focuses on four areas: digital citizenship, digital identity, cyber security, and raising children in the digital world. It aims to increase individual’s knowledge and awareness of their roles and responsibilities as digital citizens. The course also focuses on some skills related to securing digital identity, security and parental controls on the multiple digital and smart devices.