Technion to launch first “massive online open course” (MOOC) in Arabic

Published on Thursday, 20 February 2014 by Webmaster

Technion to launch first “massive online open course” (MOOC) in Arabic
Thousands of students from Arab countries have registered for the first-ever Arabic language “massive online open course” (MOOC) to be launched on March 2 by the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, one of Israel's best I.T League Academic institutions.

The ten-week course, offered on the Coursera online education platform, is titled “Nanotechnology and Nanosensors”. It will be taught in English and Arabic, marking the first time ever in the world that a MOOC has been taught in Arabic.

So far, some 4,800 students have signed up for the Arabic-language version of the course, including registrants from Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Yemen, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and the West Bank. In addition, some 25,800 have signed up for the English-language version, including students from Iran.

The course, which was initiated by Technion President Professor Peretz Lavie, will be led by Prof. Hossam Haick of Technion's Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering and the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute.  Prof. Haick, a Technion alumnus and an Israeli Arab, recently made world news with the creation of nanosensors that could one day be used to create electronic skin that senses touch, heat and humidity.

Here is what Thomas L. Friedman wrote about this corse in an article published at the New York Times on February 18 2014:

"This story is a useful reminder that Israel is a country, not just a conflict, and, as a country, it's still a work in progress. It has its lows, like the occupation and economic discrimination against Israeli Arabs, and its highs, like the collaboration between Haick and the Technion, which is providing a tool for those in the Arabic-speaking world eager to grasp the new technologies reshaping the global economy. Those, like members of the B.D.S. — boycott, divestiture, sanctions — movement who treat Israel as if it is only the sum of how it deals with the West Bank and therefore deserves to be delegitimized as a state, would do well to reflect on some of these complexities.

For me, though, Haick's MOOC is also a reminder of what an utter waste of money and human talent has been the Arab-Israeli conflict. Look how eager all these young Arabs and Persians are for the tools and resources to realize their full potential, wherever they can find that learning. Arab dictators so underestimated their people for so long. That's what fueled the Arab awakening. It makes you weep for the wasted generations and pray this will be the last of them."

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