Following the royal decree of the Minister of Education, Dr. Hamad bin Muhammad Al Al-Sheikh, and within the framework of the efforts made by the Saudi government to limit the spread of the coronavirus by taking advantage of the concurrent and asynchronous distance education options, Umm Al Qura University has sought to ensure that no student is left behind in the pandemic. When all in-person classes were cancelled, Umm Al Qura University paused only to pivot and transfer course-work online, a “can-do” attitude that is now more needed than ever for the challenges of the times to support research and learning upon which the realization of Vision 2030 depends.
The Dean of Information & Technology Dr. Atef Al Hujaili explained that the university has developed educational materials, manuals and mechanism scholastic work as well as daily tasks through the features offered by Microsoft in the office programs, to encourage students, faculty and university staff to continue to increase productivity and raise the effectiveness of virtual classrooms and laboratories in accordance with the plans and objectives of university education.
Dr. Atef al-Hujaili praised the university's participation in the workshops and the support provided by Microsoft Arabia during the preparations to establish Microsoft Teams tools as a leading system for distance learning and work in educational projects, especially since the university is the first to adopt the concepts of artificial intelligence and digital transformation using Microsoft software.
In addition to Teams, Microsoft Arabia has introduced the Windows Virtual Desktop platform, a comprehensive desktop and app virtualization service running in the cloud. This app allows the university to develop a simplified management model among staff and faculty and move them to a secure digital level. Many specially designed educational materials have been provided to the University to explain how the programs are used in a simplified manner to facilitate the adoption of programs in the university's digital leap.
Turki Badurais, Microsoft Arabia public sector lead, underlined the timeliness of the venture, "We are working to enable educational institutions in the Kingdom to provide modern technology solutions through easy-to-use programs to enable students and teachers to achieve more," and added, "Um al-Qura University's adoption of digital transformation in the current period is one of the most important steps in continuing teaching and learning."