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.

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.

“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

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

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.

First International Symposium on Contemporary Earthen Building launched

“Earth is a material with deep historical relevance in Oman”

HALBAN To raise awareness about Earth as an abundant, sustainable, and eco-friendly building product creating zero CO2 emissions, the 1st International Symposium on Contemporary Earthen Building in Oman (EBI) was launched at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) today morning. The two-day symposium gathers international experts in the field of Earthen Building. It aims to create a platform for discussion and exchange between the academia, the government and the industry.

“Earth is a material with deep historical relevance in Oman. It is in the DNA of Oman. Yet, despite the countless examples of earth buildings, it is little discussed or permitted as a material for present-day construction. This despite the proven benefits to air quality, recyclability and low-embodied energy,” said Professor Wayne Switzer from the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) who has initiated the two-day Symposium. According to a recent study, if 50% of the residential construction would be substituted with Earthen material in Oman, around 2.2 million tonnes of cement and 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions could be potentially saved annually, said Prof. Wayne. The Rector of GUtech, Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Modigell inaugurated the Symposium. He highlighted the importance of the Symposium, enhancing awareness about the production and the use of more environmental-friendly construction materials while substituting cement one of the main contributors of CO2 emissions. “The construction sector is responsible for one-third of the total CO2 emissions worldwide while also producing 30% of the total waste globally,” said Nicolas Coeckelberghs, architect and co-founder of BC architects 2/05 in Brussels, Belgium. “Earthen plasters provide better air quality, better acoustics, regulate humidity,” he said. According to Nicolas, in Belgium, only 37 million tonnes of Earth are excavated each year which can be used as a construction material. The amount is equivalent to 1 million trucks. To create awareness for architects and to learn how to construct Earthen buildings with earth bricks and clay concrete, his company has been organizing community workshops in Belgium as well abroad, e.g. for communities in Nigeria and Morocco.

To promote Earthen Building in Germany, official rules and regulations for Earthen architecture were introduced by Dachverband Lehm e.V., the German Association for Building with Earth. Currently, Earth is used as a construction and conservation material in Germany, said Stephan Jörchel from the German Association for Building with Earth. According to the EU action plan for a Circular Economy recyclable and environmental-friendly raw materials must be used. During his presentation, Stephan Jörchel also showed examples of earthen paint and earth plaster finish on a wall heating system.

The first day of the Symposium features presentations from experts, discussions and critical reflection. The second day will include hands-on demonstrations and a participatory workshop in the Engineering Workshop. Experts from Germany, Spain, and Belgium will be on hand to demonstrate and present how different building techniques are already being implemented and regulated. The symposium is the first event in a larger initiative on Earthen Building in Oman, which was recently launched at GUtech in 2017 when students constructed an Earthen Tower on campus.

For more information please visit https://ebi.gutech.edu.om or follow us @ebi_oman

(c) GUtech: Text Dr Manuela Gutberlet; Photo: Fatma Al Balushi

GUtech will hold an International Symposium on Contemporary Earthen Building

HALBAN GUtech is pleased to announce the 1st International Symposium on Contemporary Earthen Building in Oman to be held at GUtech on 10 and 11 February. Registration is now open.  “Our upcoming symposium aims to be a platform for an informative exchange. It is the first event in a larger initiative on Earthen Building in Oman which was recently launched at GUtech to create awareness about earth as an abundant, sustainable and beautiful building product,” said Assistant Professor Wayne Switzer from the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) at GUtech. “Earth is a material with deep historical relevance in Oman. Yet, despite the countless examples of earth buildings in the region, it is hardly discussed, let alone permitted, as a material for present-day construction. This despite the proven benefits to air quality, recyclability and low-embodied energy,” said Prof. Wayne. The first day will feature presentations from experts, roundtable discussions, and critical reflection. The second day will feature hands-on demonstrations and a participatory workshop.

The Symposium will include architects, governmental officials, and industry partners who will have the opportunity to discuss the potentials for Earthen construction to enable a healthy, sustainable building industry. “Guest experts from Germany, Spain, and Belgium will be on hand to demonstrate and present how these techniques are already being implemented and regulated,” said Prof. Wayne Switzer.

For more information and to register for the Symposium please visit: https://ebi.gutech.edu.om or follow us @ebi_oman

UPAD students study circular construction and examples of revitalization in architecture

HALBAN Sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), a group of 15 students from the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) recently travelled to Europe to study the potentials of reusing or revitalizing existing architecture built in Europe. The group led by Assistant Prof. Wayne Switzer, visited metropoles like Berlin and Brussels as well as smaller German cities like Cologne, Düren and Aachen. “Our students were encouraged to think in a circular, rather than linear way.  We identified and visited not only buildings but also architectural practices which are engaged in resourceful design to minimize waste and embrace historical change,” said Assistant Prof. Wayne. At GUtech’s German partner-university RWTH Aachen University, the students were involved in a three-day workshop along with Master students from the chair of Cycle-Oriented Construction, Department of Architecture. During this collaboration, the students experimented with natural substances such as reed, hair or clay as a building material, which reinforced creative solutions when regarding the sustainability of buildings. “No buildings ever disappear, rather they are either disassembled and re-used or they become someone else’s problem, in the form of waste,” said Assistant Prof. Wayne.  “It was great for us to see all the buildings in reality that we have been studying since the first semester. Every day we visited a different place. This widened our perspectives on the architecture and on sustainable construction,” said Noorayn Al Busaidi, 4th year UPAD student.

In the German capital Berlin the group visited a number of old and new buildings including the ‘House of Statistics’ (in German: ‘Haus der Statistik’), a multi-purpose building in the central district of Mitte that was used as the State Central Administration for Statistics of the GDR. A community action group that includes politicians, city planners and architects have regenerated the buildings that have been empty for over a decade. Now concerts, experimental theatre and exhibitions are conducted there. The group also visited the ‘Chapel of Reconciliation’ (in German: Kapelle der Versöhnung) built on the grounds of the former path of the Berlin Wall using earth from the very site of a formerly demolished church. In Brussels, the group met with a group of architects called ‘Rotor’, who sell salvaged building components and also reclaim buildings that are not used.

The group of students will exhibit their work and findings of the excursion during an exhibition held at GUtech’s architectural studios, from the 1st of January onwards. The exhibition will run throughout the semester.

(c) Text & Photo: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet and Prof. Wayne Switzer

 

Creating Cardboard Structures: An Interaction between Sculpture & Space

As part of the course ‘Introduction to Project Design’, students of the 1st year, BSc Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD), have created cardboard sculptures and displayed them on campus. “During our course, the students learn about proportions, colours, materials, scales and textures. Each student has to design a sculpture by using folding techniques. The last project is teamwork which is more challenging as the students have to design and share ideas in a group,” said Associate Prof. Gazmend Kalemi, UPAD Department.

“In the beginning we had a paper model. Now a 1:1 model made of three layers of cardboard was produced. We have worked on the final sculpture for three days,” said Amna Al Balushi, UPAD student. She worked along with seven fellow students on her structure. Another sculpture entitled ‘The Golden Gangway’ was designed by a group of students as a walkway and set-up outside the lecture hall building. The students perforated the cardboard designing Arabic calligraphy within the sculpture, creating light and shadow effects.

“The Quads” is the theme of another structure shaped like large triangles. “We tried different angels. From each side it looks different,” said UPAD student Al Gawaris. Another structure resembled white, empty pages that are waiting to be filled. “We wish to create space for thoughts. These pages show that the longer we study the more knowledge we accumulate,” said Bushra Al Mukhaini. “I am impressed with the students’ ideas and their projects. Their visual concepts are clear and strong,” said Prof. Gazmend Kalemi.