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.

“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.

Campus in Blue to Honour Frontline Professionals during the Covid-19 Pandemic

GUtech Lights its Buildings Blue in Honour of Health Professionals and Frontline Staff and Workers

GUtech Campus Glowing in Blue

GUtech campus glowing in blue to honour the efforts of all professionals keeping us safe and protected.

To honour health professionals and all frontline staff and workers who are confronting the Covid-19 virus in hospitals and health centres, GUtech lights up its buildings in blue each evening at dark for an indefinite period of time starting from tonight, 11 May 2020.

Illuminating buildings in blue lights, GUtech rectorate and community show appreciation and gratefulness for the dedication and sacrifice of all professionals and remind all of us to wash hands and keep social distancing.

“We are glowing our campus in blue which can be seen from far to send a message of hope to the community around us for a better tomorrow and to say thank you to health professionals and all others for their hard work.” The Acting Rector, Dr Hussain Al Salmi, stated in support of all those professionals who are keeping us protected during the pandemic.

(c) GUtech/ Text: Fatima El Madkouri; Photo provided by Infrastructure Department

The Research Team in GUtech’s Faculty of Business and Economics Administers Survey on Acceptance of Virtual Tours During the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Research Team in GUtech’s Faculty of Business and Economics Administers Survey on Acceptance of Virtual Tours During the Spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID – 19 is affecting all our lives in multiple ways. Supermarkets are running out of toilet paper, pasta and hand sanitizer, small shops have to close, airlines stop operating – the economy all over the world has to face some severe changes!?

Meanwhile we are questioning ourselves: What impact will this crisis have on the Tourism sector!? Our research team is about to answer this question with your very much appreciated help!

The Research Team in GUtech’s Faculty of Business and Economics is asking the public to participate in a survey-based study to understand the acceptance of virtual tours during the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

This research is about the use of Virtual Tours during crisis such as COVID-19 and its acceptance by the society (you).

The survey takes approximately 10 minutes.

The survey can be found at this link: https://forms.gle/AF34PSHjkaiBMAHf6

Engineering students showcased their projects during the International Gas Conference

 

 

HALBAN Students from the Department of Engineering and the Department of Computer Sciences have participated with ten poster presentations in the International Gas Union Research Conference 2020 (IGRC2020) that was held at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre a few weeks ago. The three-day conference was one of the leading international gas events, held under the auspices of Dr. Mohamed Al Rumhi, Minister of Oil and Gas in Oman.

“It was a great chance for our students to showcase their group project ideas and then to connect with experts from all over the world. We were very pleased to participate with a number of students in this important international gas exhibition and conference. The students had the opportunity to discuss their projects with international leaders in the field of gas research. We would like to thank the organizers for all their support,” said Prof. Dr. Hind Bhargash, Professor in the Department of Environmental Engineering.

GUtech Engineering and Computer Sciences students were among a few, selected students presenting their projects. GUtech student projects presented during the IGRC2020 were a gas pipeline leak detector using sensors, a smart city planning project that included solar energy operated by Arduino software, as well a simple firefighting truck using Arduino and other sensors. A group of three Environmental Engineering students presented a poster on a greenhouse operated by a hydroponic system using Arduino software. Another group of Engineering students presented a poster on a so-called pen plotter, a special type of graphics printer that draws graphical images or text instead of a toner that can be used on any solid surfaces or paper.

The ICRC2020 conference discussed global energy challenges across the gas value-chain including sessions on de-carbonizing the industry as well as production optimization through the use of new technologies aiming towards a cleaner planet. Moreover, emerging technologies in gas utilization were discussed such as a hydrogen production and storage as well as CO2 utilization and storage.

Architects held an Online Research Workshop On Urbanism

Despite the current limitations in face-to-face meetings, academics from the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design at the German University of Technology (GUtech) are carrying on with their scholarly projects in unusual ways. “Every crisis has a potential to create innovative solutions,” says Prof. Nikolaus Knebel, who had to overcome the short-term cancellation of an international two-day workshop on “Cities In Their Own Right. Southern Urbanisms Along The Indian Ocean Coast” that was planned for months. Last year, the renowned Urban Studies Foundation granted a fund to hold an International Seminar Series to Prof Nikolaus Knebel, Dr. Nathalie Jean-Baptiste from Ardhi University in Tanzania and Prof. Dr. Nina Gribat from Cottbus University in Germany. The focus of this research project is on understanding cities along the coast of East Africa, Yemen, Oman, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, which, over the next decades, will experience drastic changes to their urban and social structures. The question is: Are there models for this transformation that suit the specific conditions of these cities of the Global South? For example, Dar Es Salaam is a city which is predicted to grow to the size of Mumbai in the foreseeable future. “We want to foster a scholarly exchange to see what one side can learn from the other. But the participants are also very much rooted in practice, because they work on everyday issues of their cities and citizens through setting up so-called City-Labs, which are platforms for discussions, research, practical problem-solving as much as visionary thinking.”, says Knebel. “We have built up a network of scholars from cities in the South like Dar Es Salaam, Zanzibar, Muscat, Karachi, Mumbai, Kochi and Colombo as well as also contributors from Oxford, Dortmund and Stuttgart and were looking forward to our workshop. We wanted to meet in our group of researchers to discuss our papers, but had to switch to an online meeting last minute,” says Knebel. “It was interesting to see what the change of format brought, meeting within a limited timeframe of two hours instead of two days. Of course, we missed the informal chat and networking that always makes conferences a fertile ground for new ideas and new partnerships. But on the other hand, we worked so concentrated on the discussion of research papers. I had the impression that we were much more disciplined and focused than it is in live sessions sometimes.” The positive experience of this online conference led to the group wanting to continue meeting with this format for the time being. “However, our topic is urban studies, it is all about people and the public life in a city, which is quite the opposite of being quarantined at home or confined in an office. I can imagine that after this period of experiencing empty cities devoid of people we might appreciate the qualities of social life in urban spaces much more,” says Prof. Nikolaus Knebel.

German-Omani Workshop on the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Energy held

HALBAN To introduce students from all GUtech departments to the sustainable use of natural resources and energy, a one-day workshop in cooperation with Brandenburg Technical University, Cottbus – Senftenberg (Germany) was conducted at the university last Thursday. It was the second workshop on environmental sustainability held at GUtech’s Department of Engineering. The workshop combined lectures, case-study presentations and group work. It was directly related to the academic curricula and all study-programmes at GUtech.

“The workshop provided students with in-depth knowledge on environmental planning, law, sustainability standards, certification and ecology in the context of sustainable development, coping with the effects of climate change through adaptation and mitigation. Such adaptation measures were discussed on a local, regional and global scale and from different stakeholder perspectives,” said Prof. Dr. Najah Al Mhanna, Head of the Department of Engineering. The workshop on Sustainable Use of Resources and Energy provided the students with a new vision of the environment we are living in, addressing the complexity and interrelation of population growth, environmental degradation and scarcity of our natural resources on Earth.

A first joint Summer School on “Climate Change Response Strategies for Sustainable Land Use and Water Management” was conducted in cooperation with professors from the Brandenburg Technical University, Cottbus – Senftenberg last September. The Summer School focused on sustainable development and climate change including climate change response strategies, emerging issues on environmental law and environmental assessment with a focus on sustainable land and water management.

Caption: Students during the workshop

© GUtech: Text: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet/ Photo: Umaima Al Zadjali

 

Geography Students from RWTH Aachen University explore student life at GUtech

HALBAN Five Bachelor students from the Geography Department of RWTH Aachen University (Germany) have visited the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) today. The students were especially interested in student life on campus. After a small tour around campus, they spoke to students from different departments about their studies and life on campus.

The students are studying Applied Geography at RWTH Aachen University, GUtech’s partner-university. They are part of a group of 20 students who are currently conducting a geography field-excursion on urban developments in different Gulf countries including Oman. The excursion is headed by Prof. Dr. Carmella Pfaffenbach, Head of Cultural Geography at RWTH Aachen University along with Aysha Farooq, PhD candidate at the Department and GUtech alumna.

“There is an open atmosphere here on campus. I like the amphitheatre and the overall architecture. It is not anonymous and students have good contacts with other students and with their professors,” said Kai. After several conversations with Omani and international students, Chiara said that she could imagine studying at GUtech for one semester. All the students said that the people are very friendly in Oman. They also liked the diverse and beautiful landscape. About student life on campus they realized that “GUtech students are very connected to the university,” said Fabienne. Asked whether she would like to return and conduct an internship at GUtech, she said that she would like to explore the world and rather conduct a world tour after her upcoming Bachelor thesis. “It is interesting to be here in Oman, but I never travel twice to the same location. As long as it is possible, I would like to continue doing that,” said Finja.

Caption: RWTH Aachen students Chiara, Fabienne, Kai, Geri and Finja visited GUtech today

(c) Photo & Text: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

Train the Trainers’ Workshop at RWTH Aachen University

A didactical E-learning and teaching workshop for academics

HALBAN In our digital age, we are using the internet all the time. Within the fast-changing digital environment, university academics need to adjust and adapt their ways of teaching. A group of seven professors and lecturers from the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) have participated in a special one week ‘Train the Trainers’ Workshop on “Excellence in Teaching” recently.

“The main aim of the workshop was to offer continuing education and to introduce new teaching tools and techniques,” said Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Modigell, Rector at GUtech. The workshop was held at the Department of Engineering Hydrology at GUtech’s partner-university RWTH Aachen University in Germany. The ‘Train the Trainers’ workshop’ was part of the Step2Future initiative to enhance cooperation between Germany and the Sultanate of Oman. The programme is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The workshop covered a wide range of didactical tools including e-learning systems, such as the Learning Management System Moodle, Massive Open Online Courses, Open Education Resources, Media Didactic Concepts and Video Production as well as the Gamification of Lectures and Constructive Alignment.

„It was a very successful week. The participants were eager to learn and we are confident that the gained knowledge can be successfully used in the different courses at GUtech. Furthermore, the participants will act as multiplicators at GUtech, passing on their knowledge to other academics in their faculties.” said Prof. Dr. Heribert Nacken, Head of the Hydrology Department and the Rectorate’s Delegate for Blended Learning and Exploratory Teaching Space at RWTH Aachen University. “The knowledge and skills we obtained during the training workshop are very useful and will enable us to cope with the latest trends in the field of higher education. Certainly, we will apply our knowledge acquired in the courses that we teach. This will certainly benefit GUtech students.” said Prof. Dr. Osman Barghouth, Head of the Department of Logistics, Tourism and Service Management. “The next step is to establish a medium in order to transfer our knowledge and to adapt to our university environment. We already had a first meeting and we are working on an agenda to implement different teaching tools within our ongoing seminars and lectures,” said Prof Ercan Agirbas of the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) at GUtech.

 

Providing students with life-changing experiences

GUtech and Outward Bound Oman conducted a joint Life Skills Course

HALBAN To enhance the student’s individual life skills, the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) and Outward Bound Oman (OBO) have conducted a theoretical and practical course for GUtech students during the winter semester. The main aim of the course was to develop to students’ personal and professional life skills, e.g. leadership, teamwork and problem-solving skills through practical and theoretical and parts. The practical parts were held during an excursion to Wadi Al Abyad while the theory was taught at GUtech. In 2018, a Collaborative Agreement (CA) was signed between GUtech and OBO. “It was an amazing experience for our students to spend four days outside, sleeping in tents, going on demanding hikes and cooking for the entire group. It was a physical and mental challenge for them. But with the help of the highly qualified OBO Instructors, every single student succeeded. The combination of being pushed to the limits, participating in fun games, discussing the challenges of today’s youth, and being free from distractions has provided our students with a life-changing experience. OBO plays a key role in providing young people with the skills needed to take the lead for their own lives, their career and their future,” said Prof. Dr. Armin Eberlein, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs at GUtech. The Engineering and Computer Sciences Departments offer a special course to all GUtech students preparing them for their employment.

Mark Evans, Executive Director of Outward Bound Oman said that ‘working with the students from GUtech is always an enriching experience for the team at Outward Bound Oman. As we strive to support His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq’s government in preparing the national talent for Vision 2040, working with young people with such rich potential is inspiring. One of the key outcomes from the recent World Economic Forum was that agility of thought is one of the key skills for the future, something that our courses demand of all participants; GUtech students possess that agility in abundance.’

“We believe that such course is very important in order to achieve their goals and to be successful in the future,” said Ali Al Humairi, senior lecturer and course coordinator of the Life Skills course. In the first part of the course, GUtech staff delivered the theory, whilst the OBO team organized the relevant field-based elements outside the university, during the excursion. Throughout the seminar, key-life skills such as responsibility, engagement in learning and work, creative thinking and problem solving, innovative thinking, leadership, time management, study attitude towards mistakes, planning, communication and teamwork skills were discussed. “The course helps students to enhance their future employment, as well as to equip them with vital project management skills,” said Ali Al-Humairi. “The experience with OBO was one of a kind. It is really good for our students to have time to develop and experience something outside there comfort zone. I loved the open discussion with the students which will defiantly impact on future plans and the way they will handle things personally and professionally. In my opinion, the activities expanded the mindset of all participants through the ways they connected the different activities with our everyday lives. It was really amazing,” said Umai al Balushi, supervisor of the group and employee at the IT Department at GUtech.