Ma’arif for Education and Training, one of the largest private school owners and operators in Saudi Arabia, has taken learning to the next level with the successful implementation of its resource-rich online platforms for students of Manarat, Faisaliah, Green Hills and Noor Al-Islam schools, enabling them to learn anywhere, any time.
Over three days of e-learning sessions, implemented in response to precautionary measures put in place to counter the spread of the Covid-19 virus, Ma’arif’s e-learning platforms recorded the successful participation of nearly 15,000 students, attending 8,560 live sessions that were conducted online during school hours.
The Ma’arif for Education and Training e-learning platforms have been developed through a collaboration between education staff and IT teams at the individual schools. They focus on providing students with a vibrant and engaging environment in which to learn and complete their education programmes. The initiative features live sessions, video lessons, interactive activities, quizzes and assignments, delivered via a safe and age-appropriate online platform.
More than half of the students engaged in e-learning through iPhones and iPads, while nearly a quarter did so via desktop computers and Android phones and tablets. The creativity of teachers and students to find an effective approach to engage in learning through different ways has been an outstanding and rapid response to address the suspension of school operations due to the Covid-19 situation.
Within three days of the announcement that schools would be closing, Ma’arif for Education and Training mobilised its e-learning platforms, with exceptional levels of engagement from teachers, students and parents, leading to outstanding results that are stunning by any standard. The successful rollout of the e-learning approach highlights the commitment of Ma’arif to ensuring seamless education continuity for its students, while maintaining the online safety and well-being of both students and teaching staff.
The online interactions led to nearly 327,000 channel messages and more than 196,000 chat messages. In addition, there were more than 1 million audio streams during the live sessions and chats, which involved teachers, students, parents and supervisors.
Underpinning the strong engagement of all stakeholders taking part in the sessions, the e-learning platforms recorded 86,427 visits at all hours of the day. Students submitted some 304,465 responses to assignments, with nearly 2,000 pieces of information created and posted, and 1,391 interactions posted in discussion rooms. Teachers were also actively involved in helping students with their understanding of lessons, responding to 7,335 requests for extra support.
Dr. Mohamed Al-Arfaj, Chief Executive Officer of Ma’arif for Education and Training, said: “With more than 48 years of experience in education and training, Ma’arif has been a trend-setter in introducing pioneering models of education. Our investment in Information technology training and our focus on centres for developing life skills has been key to meeting the educational needs of students. The Covid-19 situation that led to schools being closed called for a bold, new and innovative approach to education, reflecting the aspirations of our community.”
He continued: “Thanks to the contribution and efforts of our teachers and staff, our e-learning platform has received an overwhelming response from all our stakeholders and not only ensures continuity of education but also prepares students to overcome challenges and continue to focus on their studies. Our ground-breaking move reassures parents and enables our students to keep up-to-date while also gaining digital learning skills.”
Ma’arif for Education and Training’s approach to e-learning encompasses virtual classrooms, developed in each school based on the grade level and subjects, as well as live streaming, which includes 60-minute sessions with a 10- to 15-minute break between sessions. Students in Grades KG-12 attend live streaming sessions totalling up to 19 hours per week (depending on the grade).
Supporting programs for Tahsili, SAT, and CAIE have started on Sunday, March 22nd . In addition to live lessons, asynchronous learning (Recorded lessons) allowed MLG enabled students to use the e-learning programme with offline learning capabilities such as PowerPoint presentations and videos, as well as supporting resources including worksheets, assignments and video links. This enables students to practice and perfect their learning at a pace and time that meets the needs of each child.
The daily schedule includes office hours where the teachers are available to interact and answer the students' and parents' queries and questions.
The Ma’arif for Education and Training e-learning platforms have been designed using Microsoft Office 365-Teams and are spearheaded by the institution’s e-learning coordinator/technology officer in each school. The programme is also making use of popular messaging application WhatsApp, which enables students, teachers, coordinators and parents to collaborate and share resources and best practices. With the e-learning programme now in full operation, teachers are able to work from home as part of the precautionary measures put in place to help combat the spread of Covid-19.
Last year, GEMS Education formalised a joint venture with Hassana Investment Company, the investment arm of Saudi Arabia’s General Organisation for Social Insurance (GOSI), to enhance and grow the education sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and acquired Ma’arif Education Group.