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Peace through MOOCs?

26 Feb

Arab students are eager to catch up to the future, even with the help of Israelis

By Thomas L. Friedman

Beginning March 2, professor Hossam Haick will teach the first massive open online course, or MOOC, in Arabic. It will be on nanotechnology.

What’s more interesting, though, he explained to me the other day over breakfast, is some of the curious email he’s received from students registering for his MOOC from all over the Arab world. Their questions include: Are you a real person? Are you really an Arab, or are you an Israeli Jew speaking Arabic, pretending to be an Arab?

That’s because Mr. Haick is an Israeli Arab from Nazareth and will be teaching this course from his home university, the Technion, Israel’s premier science and technology institute, and the place we were having breakfast was Tel Aviv.

His course is titled Nanotechnology and Nanosensors (https://​www.coursera.org/​course/​nanosar) and is designed for anyone interested in learning about Mr. Haick’s specialty: “novel sensing tools that make use of nanotechnology to screen, detect and monitor various events in either our personal or professional life.” The course includes 10 classes of three to four short lecture videos — in Arabic and English — and anyone with an Internet connection can tune in and participate for free in the weekly quizzes, forum activities and do a final project.

If you had any doubts about the hunger for education in the Middle East today, Mr. Haick’s MOOC will dispel them. So far, there are about 4,800 registrations for the Arabic version, including students from Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and the West Bank. Iranians are signing up for the English version.

[ Full article available at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/2014/02/26/Peace-through-MOOCs/stories/201402260008 ]

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Posted by on February 26, 2014 in MOOCs in the News, Op-Ed

 

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