Abu Dhabi, UAE: The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) has won a major award for its electronic textbook implementation initiative at the 2014 Arab Computer News (ACN) Technology Awards.
It is the third year in a row that HCT has been honoured for its technology-focused initiatives at the prestigious annual awards.
The UAE’s largest higher education institution won the award for its eTextbook Implementation Project, which adds to its Education Implementation of the Year Award and Public Sector Service Implementation of the Year Award, won respectively at the 2013 and 2012 Awards.
The award is a result of the HCT implementing a bold initiative in the 2013/14 academic year to provide more than 150,000 eTextbooks, which are compatible with mobile devices, for free access by its students. The project will see the online resources eventually replace the HCT’s reliance on printed textbooks.
The Arab Computer News (ACN) Technology Awards are part of an annual event that recognises outstanding work in the field of Information Technology carried out in the Middle East region. As the Middle East’s most prestigious IT industry awards they celebrate world-class projects and implementations, leading vendor contributions and outstanding individual efforts.
Dr Tayeb Kamali, Vice Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology, said it was pleasing to see HCT rewarded for undertaking initiatives which enhanced students’ learning capabilities and enabled exemplary teaching and learning environments through the innovative uses of technology.
“This award is another wonderful example of the Higher Colleges of Technology’s ongoing commitment, as a leader of technology integration, to the implementation of innovative technologies and practices throughout our colleges, which result in HCT achieving excellence in education and equipping our students with the skills and knowledge to achieve their best in this technology-focused world,” Dr. Kamali said.
“This complete e-Textbook implementation strategy across the HCT system is a world-first initiative and it is another aspect of HCT’s dedicated technology integration strategy where our students are provided with ‘anytime anywhere’ access to their learning resources, which we have shown engages, retains and stimulates students on their educational journeys at our colleges,” he added.
“The HCT continues to embrace and integrate cutting-edge technologies and student-centred education practices so as to ultimately equip our graduates with the necessary skills for in-demand careers,” Dr Kamali said.
HCT’s Chief Technology Officer, Saif Salem Bamadhaf said that as a result of its technology integration strategies HCT teachers are able to innovate in their classrooms and laboratories by leveraging mobile technologies, while several best practices including flipped classrooms, innovative assessment strategies and in-house digital resources have emerged.
“With the successful implementation of this innovation initiative the HCT is well on its way to becoming the UAE’s number one higher education institution for applied, technical and technology-focused learning,” Mr Bamadhaf said.
Mr Bamadhaf added that the benefits of the eTextbook implementation included ‘anytime-anywhere learning’ for students; enhanced teaching and learning; rich and improved reading experiences; sustainability and an improvement of overall efficiencies with no cost to the students to access the materials.
In awarding the first prize for HCT’s e-Textbook strategy the judges considered the following submissions by HCT:
Green Initiative: Instead of using paper in printed textbooks, the eTextbook strategy is an environmentally friendly initiative where more than 20,000 students can access all their textbooks online for more than 7,000 course offerings every semester
Delivery Logistics: Previously HCT received paper textbooks centrally and then distributed them to its colleges. It was a large logistical challenge to ensure all students and teachers had the correct books for their courses each term. With the eTextbook model students and teacher gain access to the books instantly when they are enrolled in a course.
Just in Time Order: Prior to eTextbooks, HCT had to order books from publishers at least 90 days before the start of a semester, which could result in changes needed to match the enrollment numbers. With the eText book model HCT subscribes to the books as students and teachers are added to the course.
No More Lost Books: With physical books there used to be cases of students losing their books or forgetting them. With the eTextbooks students have access to all their text books anytime and anywhere.
No More Heavy Books: Students do not need to carry textbooks weighing from 5-15 kg every day. Instead they carry a light iPad which has all their e-books on it.
Higher Engagement: With paper books students could bookmark and highlight text, but with eTextbooks students can share their highlights and bookmarks with other students and teachers. They can start discussions with classmates and teachers in order to gain a better understanding of a topic. Teachers can also highlight important sections in the text for home works and exams.
Activity Tracking: With the eTextbook solution teachers can track and monitor the activity of their students. This helps teachers to focus on students who are not fully reading the text and help such students proactively before the exams.
The award was received by HCT representatives, Mr Saif Salem Bamadhaf (Chief Technology Officer), Khalid Tariq (Head of Enterprise Systems Development), Varghese Varghese (Senior Manager, IT Services), Waseem Baig (Manager, IT Planning and Coordination) and Anvaj Aliyarukutty (Infrastructure Services Analyst).
HCT was also a finalist of the CNME ICT Achievement Awards 2014 for the following two projects:
Disaster Recovery using Exadata and DataGuard Technologies (nominated by Oracle)
Lync and Office 365 Implementation (nominated by Microsoft)
© Press Release 2014
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