MODEL LEARNING MODELS

Saudi Arabia 2017 | EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Abdullah Al Mosa, President of Saudi Electronic University (SEU), on flexible learning models, the fusion of face-to-face and distance learning, and SEU's contributions to Vision 2030.

Abdullah Al Mosa
BIOGRAPHY
Abdullah Al Mosa holds a PhD in curricula and methods of teaching computers from Ohio University, a master’s degree in computer science from Ohio University, a master’s degree in statistics, research methodologies, and an educational assessment from Ohio University, as well as a master’s degree in curricula and methods of teaching from Umm Al-Qura University. He was formerly Deputy Minister of scholarship program affairs at the Ministry of Higher Education, General Supervisor of the general administration for missions and scholarships at the Ministry of Higher Education, and Dean of the College of Computer and Information Sciences at Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University.

How have you adapted distance learning to meet your requirements?

The model of teaching in universities all over the world is based on two types: face to face and distance. Now, they are coming together in a new model called blended learning. This is the future of learning. We expect that, by 2025, at least 50% of all universities in the world will be implementing or using blended learning. This allows students to come to the university a maximum of once a week or once every two weeks. The students of four or five years ago who came to SEU have started to enjoy learning this way. About five years ago, 2.6% of the students took advantage of the blended learning implementation we offered. This year 53% of our new students are fresh from high school and want to come to SEU because we have flexibility and new models of teaching.

When you look at specific courses like English, how do you address specific skill sets?

We are working with other platforms like English Town. It is a virtual school software suite through which students study in one place. Through this technology, we have professors from Australia, the UK, and the US teach our students. We also have a degree for English that students must pass, and they continue to study until they pass.

What increase in enrollment are you looking at?

We have seen increased enrollment. Our budget from the Ministry of Education this year is better than last year. It is trying to dedicate the budget for educational use such as developing new skills and programs to better prepare students for the job market. The Ministry used to put more focus and money toward conferences, furniture, and cars. Now, most of the budget is focused on the education sector rather than luxury. We are on the right path for the vision.

Have you seen an increase in the number of students in 2016-2017 as well?

Yes, we see around 26% growth in new students every year. The new generation likes these flexible, tailored models of learning more than the older ones. I was the dean of the College of Computer Science in 2004 at Iman University. In 10 years, computers and mobile devices came together as one. Now, the same fusion of face-to-face and distance learning is occurring; by 2025 they will completely combine. There will be no entirely face-to-face education at all. This new model saves money and time, and now we have a professor from Texas who offers his course live through a video classroom. We have lecturers from Tunisia, Jordan, and more. They can give lectures from home for our students here.

For the rest of 2017, what are the overall goals and achievements you wish to make?

We have an increasing number of students and better key performance indicators. We will start to see the benefits in no more than three to four years. Additionally, this model will help the country to reach its Vision 2030 goals, which all depend on a well-educated youth. This generation is well served by the model that we are implementing, and we have seen excellent results. There are not many other ways to get the same results at the same cost, and to quickly and efficiently educate so many people simultaneously. We try to teach and train students to use our model, and now we have some universities looking to try and implement our model.