ICT in education enables a brighter future for all

[05-06-2022 12:51 PM]

BY Fawwaz Al-Abed Al-Haq

Information and communications technology (ICT) is the backbone of today's education sector. The global COVID-19 pandemic drove e-learning into the spotlight, but the reality is that distance learning has been a reality for some time now — at Hashemite University (HU), for example, we established an e-learning centre in 2007, with the foresight that it would become a core component for education in not only Jordan, but around the world. Now, smart campus solutions enable more accessible education for all, creating empowered societies that leverage knowledge and advanced technologies.

With a vision to serve society as an academic pioneer and deliver excellence in higher education teaching and scientific research, HU relies on deploying state-of-the-art technologies. We first established an ICT centre at the university in 1997 to oversee academic and administration applications. Our investment in technology over the years has led to the creation of a smart campus, which has enabled us to achieve digital transformation as well as greater sustainability. As an example of this, our university has been a paperless campus since 2018.

In collaboration with global technology leader, Huawei, HU has used smart solutions in a number of ways — such as enhancing campus safety by installing CCTV with facial recognition systems and building smart e-Classrooms. We've also deployed Wi-Fi 6, network switches, assets management projects and many more.

The e-Classroom solution in particular has enabled us to provide seamless education to our students, wherever they may be. This was vital during the COVID-19 pandemic, when lockdowns across Jordan meant that physically attending classes was simply not impossible. Thanks to the e-Classroom, professors and students could continue to learn as normal using either a laptop or tablet — all they needed was an internet connection.

Beyond the obvious accessibility benefits of the e-Classroom, being able to provide an uninterrupted education experience to students helped provide a sense of normality and routine during what was otherwise a highly unusual and disruptive time in our lives.

E-Classrooms represent the future of education. They eliminate the need for textbooks, presentation slides, tapes and other outdated media — they even remove the need for students and teachers to be in the same physical location. Instead, smart solutions leverage network and converged communications technologies to promote innovation and transformation throughout the education model. Teachers and students can interact more efficiently, regardless of where they may be. If they are present on campus, they can interact using handheld smart terminals, or if they are off-campus, they can do so using personal devices as mentioned previously. This creates new avenues of accessibility for countless people who may otherwise be unable to attend classes on-campus.

Our e-Classrooms, remote education, and smart campus runs on Huawei's Wi-Fi 6 solution. This high speed, high capacity, low latency network enables flawless connectivity across all smart solutions throughout our campus.

Equally as important as premium education at HU is on-campus safety. Through the integration of the student database with leading solutions from Huawei, our safe campus set-up allows for real-time facial recognition at the entrances of every building in the university. When someone enters and is not recognised by the system, an alarm is triggered to alert the on-duty security team. This has made our university safer than ever before, giving students complete peace of mind when they attend classes in person.

Digital transformation has always been an important consideration for HU, as we seek to provide outstanding intelligent learning opportunities through highly qualified staff, an international curriculum, globally accredited programmes and successful professionals, while encouraging lifelong learning.

The launch of our Centre of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence plays a key role in this, with a focus on connectivity with the infrastructure of the smart campus, to achieve intelligence in learning and administration. It also helps researchers, professors, and students translate traditional research into smart research, using real data from across the kingdom and implementing artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to analyse and support findings.

We have also established a Huawei ICT Academy as the Centre's official academy. This provides opportunities for students to train in AI, Cloud Computing, Routing and Switching, contributing to the development of a new generation of Jordanian ICT specialists.

HU aims to become a regional guide for smart solutions and intelligence in the academic sector. This would not be possible without considered investment in ICT solutions and partnerships with technology leaders such as Huawei. Our approach to smart education and the use of e-Classrooms makes learning more accessible to everyone, enabling us to play a part in building Jordan's digitally-driven and tech-enabled society towards a brighter, more sustainable future.

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