A woman reading a book on her iPad. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: More than 42,000 teachers in the UAE and beyond have qualified a distance learning programme as the country temporarily shifts all teaching online.

The announcement, made on Sunday, came a week before an unprecedented transition to distance learning begins in UAE schools and universities, which have closed from March 8 to April 4 to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Distance learning begins March 22 for schools, with teachers uploading classwork and holding live video sessions with students online.

On Sunday, officials in a media release said the Ministry of Education (MoE), in cooperation with Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU), has successfully qualified more than 42,000 teachers who recently underwent e-training in distance learning within the past 24 hours.

Teaching teachers

The participants completed the ‘Be an Online Tutor in 24 Hours’ course that was launched online to provide necessary training to teaching and academic personnel of various levels about the online education processes. It included operating online classrooms over the internet.

More than 22,000 certificates have been issued in “an unprecedented achievement”.

New certifications

MoE and HBMSU have launched two free online training courses, in Arabic and English, to enhance the distance learning system and ensure its continuity.

The first course, a four hour-course titled ‘Be an Online Tutor in 24 Hours’ has several modules, the first of which is ‘Online Learning Technology Landscape’.

The second course, which takes place over two hours, titled ‘Design an Online Course in 24 Hours’, focuses on developing online classroom and planning and designing online lessons in few steps.

The participants will get accredited certificates after the successful completion of both courses. The course is designed for academic staff members, university professors, and training experts.

Following the successful completion of the first course, the second session, titled is set to begin this week.

After completing either of the two courses, teachers can continue to enhance their distance learning skills by enrolling in an advanced course to obtain a ‘Faculty Certificate in Smart Learning: Certified Online Faculty’.

‘Virtual learning societies’

Hussain Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, said: “The distance learning training programmes that were recently launched by the ministry contribute to the establishment of a creative training environment consisting of virtual learning societies and based on the concept of interactive, virtual classes, in accordance with international best practices and targeting all academic levels. This newly developed approach aims to qualify teachers in innovative ways, keeping pace with advancements that enable them to assume a major and effective role in supporting the distance education initiative.”

He praised the efforts of HBMSU in organising a series of free training workshops to equip teachers with necessary skills to conduct distance learning.

‘Redefining education’

Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chairman of Police and General Security in Dubai, Chairman of HBMSU Board Governors, said HBMSU, under the directives of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and HBMSU’s President, continues its “pivotal role in redefining higher education by making optimal investments in human capital, which is the UAE’s most valuable asset”.

‘Urgent need’

Dr Mansoor Al Awar, Chancellor of HBMSU, said: “In view of the urgent need to re-orient teachers’ approach towards supporting the country’s efforts to overcome obstacles and create new horizons for investment in the educational sector in line with the requirements of the future according to the UAE Vision 2021 and the UAE Centennial 2071, we remain committed to providing an integrated portfolio of training programmes that are specially designed to enable teachers and parents to embrace smart education model within a record time frame of 24 hours.”