By Amber Lovell

“The road ahead – the new normal?” – Kortext’s 2nd MENA Symposium

June 18, 2021

On Tuesday May 25th, we welcomed delegates to Kortext’s 2nd MENA eTextbook symposium on Microsoft Teams.

The symposium

Entitled “The road ahead – the new normal?”, we had speakers representing all departments of academia; from students, right the way up to the vice chancellor.

Looking at the impact of COVID-19 on education and how different parts of sector have managed during the pandemic, we also looked to the future with a permanent move to blended learning, facilitated by integrated digital solutions.

During presentations, our speakers shared their knowledge on a broad spectrum of topics, such as the digital transformation of textbooks from Dr Mohamed Hamdy, Director of eTextbooks at Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport Transport.

Dr Hamdy shared: ‘Our partnership with Kortext has been providing the required platform to identify challenges and difficulties, with the goal to assess the readiness of students and faculty members and examine the electronic infrastructure potentials.’

Dr Hamdy - Presentation Cover
Dr Hamdy Presentation Cover – Digital transformation of textbooks at AASTMT

Following on From Dr Hamdy’s presentation, there was a question from Rachid Zegrane  of Al Akhawayn University, Ifrane.

Rachid asked: “How is the integration of the e-textbooks is processed by faculty members at AASTMT?”

Dr Hamdy was kind enough to document the entire integration process here, highlighting that co-operation was ‘essential to the success of the process’.

Ms Ivy Cruzata, City University College of Ajman

Following on from Dr Hamdy was Ms Ivy Cruzata, librarian at City University College of Ajman, who shared her view of the new normal.

Ms Ivy Cruzata Presentation Cover
Ms Ivy Cruzata Presentation Cover – Impact of the Covid 19 pandemic – The City University College of Ajman Learning Resource Center’s struggles and coping mechanism to fact the challenge.

During her presentation, Ms Ivy said:

“Our vision is to create a friendly environment that encourages learning for all students and faculty members by giving access to a wide range of information, assist students with 21st century skills and attributes they need to embrace the change and participate constructively in the global society of this rapidly changing world.”

UBT’s director of distance learning, Amjad Roboey asked Ms Ivy: “What did you do at your university to ensure the integrity of the exam entries by students?”

To which Ms Ivy answered: “At CUCA, we purchased the Locked-down browser to be used for examination to ensure the integrity of the procedure.”

Dr Ali Alkhabti, University of Business Technology

Also presenting was University of Business Technology’s Dr Ali Alkhabti, speaking of their digital transformation. Dr Alkhabti highlighted their adoption of hybrid learning, a virtual chemistry lab and their own mobile app to facilitate the integration of hybrid learning called ‘MiApp’.

Dr Alkabti Presentation Cover.
Dr Alkabti Presentation Cover. – Top future technology inventions, 2019-2050.

Following on from Dr Alkhabti was a presentation from Kortext’s Andy Alferovs and Richard Horton on supporting the blended learning transition, and Dr Omar Alfandi speaking about Zayed University’s rapid switch to digital teaching and learning.

During the discussion, Dr Alfandi said: “… The other thing that was like a challenge… is the international books.  

“Sometimes those books or textbooks were not available in the Middle East and they were available in the US… We would replace these books with something that’s available for the Middle East region. In terms of eBooks, they should be globally available.” 

To draw the webinar to a close, there was a discussion panel featuring all of our speakers, as well as Kortext’s CEO  was James Gray and  Sir Tim O’Shea, former Rector University of Edinburgh. During the discussion panel, we had several questions that we didn’t have time to answer. If you did have a question, your answers will be available here : MENA Q&A.

This was a truly lively event, and such a pleasure to be able to host our 2nd MENA eTextbook symposium.

To watch the full event, click below.


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