Hamdan Bin Mohammad Smart University (HBMSU) is a pioneer of smart education in the Arab World. The Technology Development division of HBMSU has used state-of-art ICT to create a unique smart campus to provide a one-stop-shop for all the needs of learners and the faculty. It seamlessly automates and integrates all relevant services, applications and subsystems (whether open source or commercial) ensuring a smooth, enjoyable and fruitful user experience. The HBMSU Smart Campus is ICT in action for meeting the needs of learning and learners at the university. Hopefully, it would go a long way in contributing to the transformation of Dubai and other cities in the country into smart cities. The HBMSU Smart Campus, it is also hoped, would give a boost to digital learning and help create new opportunities for learning for current and next generations of learners.
The HBMSU Smart Campus project has been implemented using modern responsive design technologies. No matter what device is used to access it, the campus will automatically adjust its menus and content to provide optimal viewing and navigation experience for that particular device.
A remarkable innovative feature of HBMSU Smart Campus is that it has enabled social communication, collaboration, and learning among all members of the university community. We believe that the biggest social communication and collaboration innovation within the Smart Campus is its Shout Box. The Shout Box is an innovative, real-time, electronic wall where learners, faculty, staff, can post questions, suggestions, ideas, comments, complaints and issues. The Shout Box has helped generate creative and critical thinking.
The ICT-driven HBMSU Campus is not only helping to create great life-long learning opportunities, it is helping learners conveniently to fit their studies around their increasingly hectic lives.
HBMSU Smart Campus is anchored in a paradigm of ICT-driven innovation. The university believes in nurturing those learners who fit well into the country's policy tracks and providing them with the knowledge and skills to succeed.
Dubai has crafted a policy track to transform itself into a smart city with a view to competing effectively in international business and investment. Therefore, an over-arching question now is: how to inculcate smart skills in the current and next generations and translate the vision of a smart city into reality in the UAE? Surely, innovation inputs must include state-of-art ICT infrastructure in the area of education. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary for institutions of higher learning such as HBMSU to contribute to the evolving smart learning and innovation process in the country and indeed elsewhere in the region.
The Smart Campus has been created carefully to achieve the following objectives.
* To construct a virtual campus based on smart technologies;
* To design and implement digital pedagogy;
* To engage learners and faculty (through virtual learning environment) in knowledge creation and dissemination endeavours in all parts of the world;
* To integrate smart technologies into the virtual classroom for achieving diversity in learning styles;
* To foster creative and critical thinking through peer-to-peer social learning;
* To encourage learners to be constructors, discoverers, transformers of own knowledge, and
* To provide a new learning approach that is learner-centric and involves discussions, participation and shared responsibility for learning;
The project sought to ensure that learning takes place through active interpersonal interactions between students/learners and faculty. They must cooperate and communicate to construct shared understandings and knowledge.
This project was based on a problem-solving approach including the following.
* A careful analysis of evidence pertaining to HBMSU's academic and professional activities as well as gaps and inefficiencies in linkages between the activities
* An analytical look at the facts in interaction with the existing systems and processes across HBMSU
* A construction of a different smart system scenario that might have produced better results
* A thorough scan of HBMSU's environment including, most notably, innovations relating to ICTs
* Development of a smart campus based on integration of relevant ICTs by the Technology Development division of HBMSU
* Development and assessment of interesting implications of the smart campus for learners, faculty and academic administrators
The project approach was based on the fact that learners' needs are continually changing and the Smart Campus must be able to respond to this change. The approach was pragmatic. It was allied closely to (a) mission of HBMSU to be a university of choice in the Arab World , (b) UAE's policy track to create smart cities, (c) advances in ICTs and digital pedagogy, (d) globalization of education in the UAE and elsewhere in the Arab region, (e) quality assurance and accreditation standards of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, UAE and (f) international rankings criteria for open and distance learning institutions.
The Smart Campus has been able successfully to engage the entire university community including most notably learners, faculty and academic administrators by offering easy access to a suite of online learner services and systems. The list is comprehensive and includes the following.
*Advising services where learners can request registration in courses, interact with and receive advisor's comments, virtually meet with advisors, follow progress in study plan, etc.
* Registration for academic and special courses
* Services such as changing academic programs, transferring external credit hours, requesting letters for employers, online payments, financial account statements, etc.
* Accessing registered course spaces and materials, submitting assignments and projects, viewing grades and faculty feedback, communicating and collaborating with classmates, communicating with faculty, etc.
* Accessing previously taken course spaces including all learning resources
* Joining virtual classrooms and viewing recordings of previous virtual classrooms, with the ability to download those recordings
* Searching and accessing online resources including e-library resources
* e-Wallet management (funds added via credit card, cash or cheques used for payments)
The faculty members including adjunct faculty placed in all parts of the world have been engaged in Smart Campus mainly through the following services.
* Advising dashboard and system
* Course space management
* Course file management
* Course syllabus management
* Reports and statistics
* Learning objects repository
* Instructional resources
Interestingly, HBMSU Smart Campus has enabled social communication, collaboration, and learning among all university community members. It offers many enabling features including:
* Friends management where users are able to add friends
* Chat where users can have live chats with their friends including the exchange of files
* Groups where users can be part of a group where content sharing and collaboration can be restricted to the group
* Messaging service where users can send direct private messages to other users
* Wikis which involve collaborative content creation by users
* Blogs where users can create individual blogs and receive comments from other users
* Discussion forums where users can post topics to collaborate, interact, give feedback, receive replies, etc.
* Personal profile management where users can maintain their own profiles including personal details and contact details
An effective social communication and collaboration innovation within Smart Campus is its Shout Box. The Shout Box is an innovative, real-time, electronic wall where learners, faculty, staff, can post questions, suggestions, ideas, comments, complaints and issues. The objective of the Shout Box is to enable and foster a fully transparent, collaborative, social environment within the university. The Shout Box supports modern social media features such as replies, tags or mentions (@), and hashtags (#). The Shout Box has seriously enhanced the way we do business at the university. It has replaced our conventional complaint and suggestion systems. We have witnessed an amazing evolvement of the Shout Box and how it is now enabling social learning among the university community. When the Shout Box was first introduced, it was a platform for complaints. Now, it has evolved into a platform for fruitful engagement and peer-to-peer social learning.
Temporary access to HBMSU Smart Campus is possible for the distinguished members of the jury , using the following.
(This is a demo learner account. It is used exclusively by the learner to executes action such as adding friends, adding courses, requesting a service or posting a shout )
HBMSU Smart Campus has had remarkable impact, particularly on learner satisfaction. Results of a survey exercise conducted in 2015 indicate that there has been a significant improvement in learner satisfaction with ICT-related facilities (including the Smart Campus) to 87% in 2014-15. Learners have been able to express creative and useful ideas, through the Shout Box, for solving a wide array of problems and improving the quality of HBMSU services. In fact, learners now feel empowered and engaged in the university system to chart their own destiny. This kind of successful experiment has interesting implications for millions of learners in the Arab region and beyond. The Smart Campus compared to traditional campuses provides a new learning approach that is learner-centered and involves active restructuring on the part of the learner. Restructuring occurs through engagement in problem posing as well as problem solving, inference making and investigation, resolving of contradictions, and reflecting.
HBMSU Smart Campus has been able to engage eminent faculty from all parts of the world to use a wide range of pedagogical tools to teach courses in all the 22 academic programs including 3 doctoral programs accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, UAE. This is a unique experience in the Arab region. The creation of a smart campus has of course helped decision makers in HBMSU expose learners to the best faculty available in any part of the world.
HBMSU Smart Campus has enhanced the range and quality of pedagogy. The use of case studies, for instance, has certainly helped learners, faculty and practitioners invited from any part of the world in virtual class rooms to generate their own knowledge and bring useful case leads from practical situations in the Arab region.
By removing distance barriers, HBMSU Smart Campus has certainly equipped learners with an understanding of global market realities to acquire positions of trust and responsibility in the global market.
By creating Smart Campus, HBMSU has been able to spread its wings all over the world in its quest for generating and disseminating knowledge.
HBMSU Smart Campus has certainly created impact thinking across the university. The impact agenda of the university triggered by the creation of the Smart Campus includes a strategic blueprint for making a positive difference to the outcomes valued by the learners, academics, policy makers, industry, funding organizations, media, and the community at large.
The university has designed a strategic plan to globalize its academic programs through the Smart Campus by attracting eminent faculty and bright learners from all parts of the world. It is moving in the direction of creating branches of its Smart Campus and virtual research centers in all parts of the world. It believes that it is going to be the quality of teaching, learning, research and other activities that will help create brand equity for smart education.
Being a pioneer of smart education in the UAE, HBMSU has acquired a leadership role in the region to bring about a change in the strategic priorities of institutions of learning. Some of the new priorities relate particularly to the following.
* Faculty must be trained in smart skills for creating an ICT-based environment within which learners can discover, construct and retain knowledge
* Learners must be allowed actively to construct their own knowledge. They must be motivated to develop creative and critical thinking.
* Learning should take place using smart technology.
* The academic community must be exposed to global trends in smart education.
* Smart Campus must be used for promoting diversity of ideas
* Discussions on Smart Campus must lead to contextualization of knowledge in the Arab region
HBMSU firmly believes that the success of its impact agenda is going to depend, to a great extent, on the quality of graduates equipped with smart skills who are able to compete and make a positive difference in the job market. Therefore, it will continue to make unfailing efforts to produce smart human capital for socio-economic development of the UAE and the Arab region at large.