OES and Eduten Collaborate to Bring AI-Supported Gamification Mathematics to Oman

Oman Educational Services Signs Exclusivity Agreement with Eduten to Bring Finland No 1 AI-Supported Mathematics Digital Learning Platform to Oman

HALBAN & TURKY Oman Education Services (OES, LLC) has signed an exclusivity agreement with Eduten, a Finnish company with more than 15 years of proven expertise in gamification-based mathematics learning, to bring Eduten Playground into the Finland Oman School (FOS), the GUbridge Foundation Programme of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) and beyond.

The virtual signing ceremony took place yesterday, Wednesday 9 September, between Dr Hussain Al Salmi, the Chief Executive Officer of OES, and Henri Muurimaa, the Chief Executive Officer of Eduten joining from Turku, Finland; along with the virtual presence of Makke Leppänen, Eduten’s Head of Partnership joining from Helsinki, Ahmed Al Salmi, OES General Manager, and Terhi Merenski, FOS principal.

Eduten, a spin-off of the globally ranked top 1% University of Turku, is behind Eduten Playground for primary and secondary students. Eduten Playground is supported by artificial intelligence and offers a library of more than 200,000 high-quality pedagogical online mathematics practice tasks for students aged 6-15 years.
Commenting on the exclusivity agreement with Eduten, OES CEO, Al Salmi said: “Recognising the significant role of the digital education in boosting pupils’ learning and believing in the importance of equipping our students with the Fourth Industrial Revolution skills, our agreement with Eduten goes hand in hand with our vision to providing quality education to the people of Oman and to empowering our students, in FOS and GUtech, to learn mathematics through Eduten Playground, Finland no 1 motivational digital learning platform that encourages autonomous learning.” “Math performance in Oman has been a challenge and we believe that Eduten Playground, when deployed properly, can improve Omani students’ Math results.” He added.

The platform complements FOS approach of pedagogical differentiation and offers teachers opportunities for setting up highly individual learning pathways for students and generating detailed learning analytics for each student.
From his side, Eduten CEO, Henri Muurimaa, stated: “With this venture, Oman will be joining the growing list of countries benefiting from the extensive research and proven effectiveness in digital mathematics learning while simultaneously helping us to achieve our ultimate mission of offering students worldwide the opportunity to reach their academic potential.” “OES is a perfect partner for us and together with OES we are ready to expand in Oman for modernising the teaching methods and for transforming the learning journey for higher results among FOS students and many other schools in Oman.” He concluded.

Capitalising on the expertise of Eduten and leveraging FOS growing reputation, the agreement appoints OES as the exclusive distributor in Oman and paves the ground for undertaking research that will expand the digital platform to address other regional needs in Arabic and Arabic related subjects.

Oman Educational Services (OES) is a 100% Omani-owned limited liability company, established in 2006. In the past 14 years, OES has ventured into different projects with a core interest in education – The German University of Technology (GUtech) in 2007, History of Science Centre in 2017, and Finland Oman School in 2018 – allowing OES to be established as a leading educational ecosystem in Oman.

Eduten Ltd is a spin-off from University of Turku that provides Finland’s most popular digital learning platform Eduten Playground to educational institutions around the world. Eduten Playground has proved its worth as a scientifically validated mathematics platform since 2011 by more than 450,000 users in Finland 40+ other countries, including Hong Kong, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, United States, United Arab Emirates, various countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America, and now Oman.

GUtech and PhazeRo bring in real-world Artificial Intelligence skills into the classroom and beyond

The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) signed on Tuesday 8 September a cooperation agreement with PhazeRo at GUtech campus to offer artificial intelligence, AI, courses to equip GUtech students with much needed AI skills and to bridge the gap between AI theory and real-world AI applications through project-based learning with real industry challenges.

Dr Hussain Al Salmi, GUtech’s Acting Rector, and Mr Masood Al Rawahi, PhazeRo Executive Director, signed the agreement, in the presence of Dr Nabil Al Sahli, Dean of the Engineering and Computer Science faculty at GUtech.

PhazeRo is a specialist consultancy and future-oriented technology education group, building the region’s largest engineering team out of local software talent. PhazeRo handles digital consulting, software development, talent onboarding, and continuous improvement for corporate clients so they can get back to focusing on their core business.

Al Salmi announced that the signing of the agreement establishes a solid partnership ground with PhazeRo, as it will contribute to bring in real-world AI applications to the classroom. He added that GUtech spares no effort to provide students with the right practical skills they need to be ready for the job market. “collaborating with PhazeRo to infuse our curriculum with hands-on learning opportunities is an example,” he said, before adding that GUtech always seeks to bring in the industry into the learning process of students.

GUtech is finalising all requirements to launch the Cyber Security and Artificial Intelligence programmes, he stated. “It is extremely important to bring in the practical aspects of AI into our Computer Science curriculum and beyond.”

Through the expertise of PhazeRo, GUtech students will get to explore the real-life applications of AI in different sectors. Al Rawahi “We believe that high-performing tech talent is at the heart of a thriving innovation ecosystem. Our mission is to accelerate the development of the next generation of software engineers and data scientists to realise the ambitious goals laid out in Vision 2040. To achieve this, deep integration between industry and academia is necessary. We are excited to co-create a programme, with the GUtech, that infuses our industry experience with a rigorous academic curriculum that is very practical in nature.”

In the pilot stage, PhazeRo will deliver introductory AI courses to third year Computer Science students in September 2020. Al Sahli explained that “With the AI boom, it was necessary for GUtech to find an industrial partner who can support our vision in forming local AI experts.”

He continued: “PhazeRo is a young and very promising Omani company which we think can connect GUtech to the AI market and support us in improving our academic programmes by offering the opportunity to our students to practice AI concepts in real-world applications. We will start this partnership as soon as this month with a course that PhazeRo will offer to our third year CS students. This course will focus on machine learning and will give students the opportunity to plan and execute real machine learning projects to solve real-world problems.”

The collaboration with PhazeRo will also benefit students who will be joining the recently approved GUtech’s Bachelor of Artificial Intelligence programme. Upon launching the programme, PhazeRo will be engaged to deliver specialised courses.

The collaboration also aims at extending AI courses and trainings to passionate professionals seeking to upskill their technical knowledge in machine learning and AI applications.

The signing ceremony was held at GUtech campus in the presence of Mr Talal Al Nabulsi, responsible for training at GUtech’s training unit (TSSC), and Ms Reem Al Taei, the Business Development Executive at PhazeRo.

GUtech collaborates with ETCO to set up a Technology Transfer Office

The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) and the International Emerging Technology Company (ETCO) collaborate to establish GUtech Technology Transfer Office to promote technology transfer and structure GUtech technology transfer capabilities.

The German University of Technology in Oman, represented by Dr Hussain Al Salmi, Acting Rector, and the International Emerging Technology Company (ETCO), represented by Mr Azzan Al Mamari, Acting Chief Executive Officer, have signed a collaborative agreement to avail of ETCO consulting services for setting up GUtech Technology Transfer Office (TTO) in alignment with the University’s vision to set the way for innovation and technology transfer.

The International Emerging Technology Company operates in the advanced technology sector with a focus on attracting innovative projects, providing consulting services, propelling technology transfer locally and internationally. The company puts empowerment of societies at the forefront of its priorities by providing them with the latest advanced technologies to reach the future economy.

Al Salmi, who welcomed members of ETCO, said: “I am glad to kick off the start of the academic year with a strategic partnership leading to the establishment of a TTO at GUtech campus.” He continued: ”Establishing a TTO at GUtech will help cement relationships between key faculty members at GUtech as well as industry partners to bring in funds for research and licenses for innovative ideas.”

Al-Maamari announced that the signing of the agreement establishes a solid partnership ground with the university and the education sector, as it will contribute to opening wider horizons for intellectual property protection policies and will empower the academic sector and its outputs with the latest knowledge and technology.

He added, “We are pleased to cooperate with the German University of Technology through a unique model of a technology transfer office, which will provide the necessary structure to attract local and international private sector partners who are ready to support and finance new ideas.”

The Technology Transfer Office will offer the platform that will encourage the movement of technical skills, the development of industry-sponsored research projects, and consulting arrangements with companies and public entities.” explained  Al Salmi.

Acting as a bridge between GUtech and the industry, the Technology Transfer Office will be led by key international advisors tasked to set out the framework for connecting GUtech researchers with industry partners for novel technologies, and to clearly define key policies in areas of ownership of intellectual property, transfer of rights, and other arrangements of key importance for the formation of spin-offs and the commecialisation of innovative ideas.

The signing ceremony was held in the presence of GUtech members and ETCO chairman, Mr Abdulaziz Jaafar, Mr Humood Al Shukeiry, ETCO programmes director, Dr Christopher Moody and Dr Costas Chryssou ETCO strategic advisors.

 

Virtual Internships at RWTH Aachen University for GUtech Students

Virtual Internships at RWTH Aachen University for GUtech Students

Virtual internships are the norm this year as the global pandemic has affected countless plans including internships. Amid these unprecedented times, RWTH Aachen University and the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) are forging new paths in cooperation to help students get real-life practice. Virtual internships under the supervision of experts from RWTH Aachen University allow students to continue learning and gain valuable experiences. “We are happy to find solutions in these difficult times” said Prof. Dr. Ute Habel, Vice-Rector for International Affairs at RWTH Aachen University. “This is a way to raise awareness about each other and to find new ways to collaborate digitally in these extraordinary times.”

While students are staying home over the summer break and employers in Oman have limited options of hosting student interns, they can use this time to continue learning. GUtech Bachelor students in Applied Geosciences, Computer Science International Business and Service Management, Logistics, and Mechanical Engineering are hosted as interns in various faculties at RWTH Aachen University. During their internships, students are working to find solutions for concrete scientific problems in their fields of study.

In addition to the valuable technical and scientific experience, students also gain intercultural skills. They are matched with “Online-Buddies” from RWTH Aachen University to support them during the experience and facilitate personal exchange on the student level.

 

 

“Students explore creative ways of expressing their ideas” – UPAD Professor about online assignments

The academic departments at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) have been adjusting their regular assignments and thesis projects to online teaching. The Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) has been conducting Bachelor thesis projects recently. Associate Professor Alexander Kader of the UPAD Department speaks about his experience during online teaching in the past weeks.

“Our online teaching experience for the Bachelor thesis projects has been a steep learning curve. But on a brighter note, our current limitations also resulted in very positive outcomes. Students explored creative ways of expressing their ideas and displayed a good understanding of developing problem-solving strategies,” said Assoc. Professor Alexander.

A creative idea of some UPAD students was to make videos in which several design solutions were shown by building an abstract architectural model, which was constantly transformed into different versions during the video. The video was shown as an accelerated film so that the creation of all the versions were visible within 2 minutes.

Regular teaching at the UPAD Department consists of regular consultations and independent or group work. “Given that the thesis at our UPAD department does not involve any online lectures or classes, students’ performances depend very much on regular consultations and feedbacks received. While conducting consultations face to face involve pen, paper and several brainstorming sessions, doing this online has been a challenge,” said Assoc. Prof. Alexander. The department faced a couple of trial and error runs while conducting group consultations using an online teaching software. “Then we settled for sending out written/recorded feedbacks to each student after their submissions, with online communication over the Moodle Integrated Big Blue Button as well,” said Assoc. Professor Alexander.

“Given the different software requirements for the UPAD thesis projects, the lack of access to computer laboratories has been a challenge for our students. Moreover, the lack of being in a studio to work on a project meant for the students, to set-up their work desks at their homes.” The UPAD students now work individually and during their own timings, their own pace and within their comfort, while delivering the expected results in time.

“In my view, the lack of opportunities to present projects face to face to other students and to their professors resulted in very innovative video presentations, while a number of deadlines and tasks had to be adapted to online teaching and digital submissions. To accommodate these very special circumstances, a steep learning curve has prepared us very well for the future teaching which will integrate more blended learning than in the past,” said Assoc. Professor Alexander.

“Sur Place scholarships” for Self-funded Students available

 

HALBAN The International Office at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) has held a webinar on scholarships by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with funds from the German Federal Foreign Office for self-funded students studying at the university. Currently around 15% of all students are self-funded. Felixa Wingen, Manager of the International Office said: “During the last academic year, 19 students received a DAAD Sur Place-scholarship. The requirements for receiving a scholarship are the completion of the first year of the academic studies at GUtech and excellent study results. In addition to this partial tuition scholarship for self-funded students, GUtech students can receive DAAD scholarships for short-term study visits and internships in Germany, for writing their Bachelor thesis at RWTH Aachen, and for completing a Master’s programme in Germany. Interested students can enquire at the International Office.”

Hydrology Research on New Technologies for Flood Management in Oman

HALBAN A team of hydrologists around Prof. Dr. Ekkehard Holzbecher, Department of Applied Geosciences, German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) is currently working on research on new technologies that will help to improve the flood management in Oman. The team, including Dr. Ahmed Hadidi, started their research within the project entitled ‘Towards a flood-resilient Omani society: improved tools for flood management’. The project was funded by The Research Council (TRC) between 2015 and 2019. Some of their research results were presented during the 5th International Symposium on Flash Floods in Wadi Systems (ISFF2020) held in Kyoto (Japan), hosted by Kyoto University, between 25-28 February. The 3rd symposium of this conference series was organized and hosted by GUtech in 2017. Participating researchers originated from countries facing similar problems with flash floods such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Oman, UAE and Sudan.

During the conference in Kyoto, Prof. Holzbecher gave a presentation ‘On Watershed Delineation for Flood Modelling in Lowlands’. He outlined problems of current practices of flood management and gave an outlook on new technology developments that are capable to resolve some of the issues. “New software tools are not only more powerful, but also more flexible, especially in connection with an advanced sensor network. Within the project ‘LoRaWAN Hydrological Sensor Network’, internally funded by GUtech, a small-scale demonstration of such a network is currently installed,” said Prof Holzbecher.

For a large-scale pilot installation that will help to examine the capabilities of new technologies to prevent damages during flash flood events in Oman and to assist urban planners, the research team is currently looking for further research funding.

Captions:

Prof. Ekkehard Holzbecher is second from left. He was part of the a student award committee, along with the 1st price winner, Omani student Sabah Al Mahrouqi. She is currently affiliated with Kyoto University.

 

 

“I want every day to be a challenge” – A UPAD students shares his study experiences

 

HALBAN A 4th year student in Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD), Abdullah Al Mandhari (pictured), has shared some of his experiences about his online studies and his on-going projects. Sometimes Abdullah has been studying while being surrounded by his nephews and niece. This highlights the challenges students face within their home-environments, in a region that is highly family-oriented.

Managing social life at home and online studies can be challenging at times. In his view, online classes have positive and negative aspects. “Currently most of the students stay in their comfort zones, at home. But I think there will be less quality in our final projects, the thesis. Unfortunately, most of us are too distracted most of the time. I am currently working on the time-frame of my final project. I have worked on that every single holidays in our semester breaks,” he said. Recently Abdullah has worked on architectural design projects such as a drive-through cinema. “I have some other goals to reach within this year. I will participate in the International Design Contest “Jump the Gap” which will be held this month.” Jump the Gap is a worldwide competition in designing innovative and sustainable bathrooms for the future, held by Roca and in collaboration with the Barcelona Design Centre.

To concentrate on his projects and assignments, Abdullah has been following a weekly schedule. “When I focus on my goals, I can reach them easily. I always schedule my week to do different things such as my assignments, physical workout, I also work in my online business and I learn new skills. I want every day to be a challenge, so that I can learn much more from life and enhance my personality. I like to share the positive energy and create a motivating study-environment at home. I think students can always remind each other to work together or compete with each other in order to reach each phase of their work. I think many students don’t know how to increase their self-motivation at home. I sometimes played an important role to increase their motivation,” said Abdullah. He has been advising some of his study-colleagues via zoom meetings. “As far I can see, all the projects went very well. But now after two months of online classes and towards the end of our semester, it seems that the energy levels have dropped. We need continuous motivation to work on our projects,” he said while adding that “as a social person, I always text and call the people who I love and care for. We also watch movies online or have joint videos calls. It is fun because we realize how good days make us stronger in life. We didn’t realize that when we lived the moment but we realize now during these times, when we stay at home. In future, I can see myself as a businessman working in different fields. Currently, I don’t have any plans to do a master’s degree, but maybe later on in international business.”

Caption: Abdullah Al Mandhari surrounded by his niece and nephews.

© GUtech: Photo provided by Abdullah Al Mandhari, Text by Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

HE Maitha Al Mahrouqi, Undersecertary of Tourism, addresses Faculty of Business students on the impact of Covid19 on the tourism sector on Oman

HE Maitha Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary of Tourism, addresses Faculty of Business students on the impact of Covid19 on the tourism sector on Oman

The Ministry of Tourism is taking precautious, but well defined steps in addressing the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Oman’s Tourism Sector.

GUtech Business and Economics students got a closer insight into the protocols activated by the Ministry of Tourism in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to HE Maitha Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary for the Ministry of Tourism.

The Undersecretary was hosted via Teams Microsoft by Prof. Dr. Heba Aziz, Professor at the Faculty of Business and Economics and director of MBA programme recently.

Undoubtedly the pandemic presents new challenges to the tourism and aviation industry in Oman which has prompted the Ministry to commission a study to look in to the economic and financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Undersecretary stressed on the importance of collaboration that exists between the Ministry of Tourism and Oman Aviation Group (OAG) and highlighted on the streamlined communication between the two organisations; as the aviation and tourism sector should be going hand in hand none of them could succeed independently of the other. OAG encompasses Oman Air, Oman Airports and Oman Aviation Services. “Every crisis offers an opportunity and with this crisis we have the opportunity of redefining our market segments, the business and adventure segments are likely to recover quicker than other segments.” The undersecretary shared with the students. Furthermore, students had the opportunity to learn about the Ministry’s support to investors by extending deadlines for due projects and plans to explore new markets confirming that the domestic and regional markets will be very important at the coming stage.

Her Excellency concluded that the tourism sector despite the crisis still holds a lot of opportunities for young Omanis, “I started in the aviation sector from a junior position and the aviation and tourism sector offered me lot of opportunities – I hope you also can embrace the endless opportunities that this sector offers,”   end.

 

Caption:

HE. HE Maitha Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary for the Ministry of Tourism

Prof. Dr. Heba Aziz, Professor at the Faculty of Business and Economics and director of MBA programme

(c) GUtech: Text by Fatima El Madkouri, Photo: provided by Prof. Dr. Heba Aziz

 

 

 

 

The Hospitality industry: Navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic

Crisis Management in the Hospitality Industry: Insights from the General Manager of Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz Carlton Hotel

The Hospitality industry: Navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced many variables that are obscuring the prospect of recovery of the hospitality sector.

Dr. Heba Aziz, Professor at the Faculty of Business and Economics and director of MBA programmes invited the General Manager of Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel, Katrin Herz, to a virtual talk to students of the International Business and Service Management (IBSM) department recently to gain insights into crisis management in the hospitality industry amid the covid-19 pandemic.

“I am pleased that students enrolled in my course “Contemporary Issues in Tourism: Crisis Management” had got the opportunity to learn about what is happening in the hospitality from a hospitality practitioner with an extensive local and international experience.” Commented Dr. Heba Aziz.

Herz gave her thoughts on the impact of COVID-19 on Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel, in particular and the hospitality sector in general. A sector that has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. She started off by pointing out to the importance of having a crisis management team during this difficult time, inclusive of key personnel from finance, communication, marketing, human resources, and procurement. This team is tasked with addressing all sorts of aspects relating to communication, staffing  and contracts, hygiene and cleaning standards to new procurement initiatives.

Addressing a question from Fatma Al Madhani, Herz confided that a rise in operating expenses and direct costs is imminent as hotels will be required to acquire all sorts of protective equipment including, shields, masks, gloves, alcohol-based sanitisers and disinfectant installations, to maintain social distancing and ensure a touch free guests’ interaction across the hotel facilities supported by solutions such as QR scanned menus in restaurants and mobile applications for check-in.

Speaking via Microsoft Zoom to students, Herz shared how Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel, is gearing towards a staycation strategy to circumvent the pandemic’s painful impact on the hotel’s revenues, and developing package deals to attract local guests and families.

Students got also to learn that most hotels rely on external subcontractors for operating their facilities. Negotiating these contracts are among the tasks any hotel manager would start with to minimise losses. Besides, revisiting personnel’s contracts and agreeing with employees on salary cut to avoid redundancies.

The student Reem Al Khalili raised the question about gaining customers back after the pandemic. To this, Herz emphasised the importance of transparent and clear communication about social distancing practices that the hotel is planning to put in place. Besides, the hotel has been very flexible with its refund policy, allowing customers to claim their deposits or reschedule their events at no additional cost.

The virtual talk offered  the opportunity to students to learn how the hospitality industry is reorganising and redistributing resources to develop and cope with new hygiene protocols for a better customer experience. From identifying all touch points in a hotel, to dedicating personnel who will be focusing on the hygiene aspects, are among the changes a hotel will have to prepare for.

 

Caption: Katrin Herz, General Manager of Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel.

(c) GUtech/ Text: Fatima El Madkouri; Photo provided by Dr Heba Aziz