Q&A: edX President Anant Agarwal on MOOCs in the Arab World
Anant Agarwal in the lobby of edX’s headquarters in Cambridge, MA. (Photo credit: edX)
EdX and the Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development recently announced the creation of the Arabic-language online education portal Edraak. Anant Agarwal, edX’s president, answers a few of Tadween’s questions about the collaboration that will bring MOOCs (massive open online courses) to the Arab world.
Tadween (T): How do you think MOOCs will benefit the Arab world specifically?
Anant Agarwal (AA): As you know, we just announced a project with the QRF. Powered by edX's open source platform, Edraak will offer Arabic translations of select courses from the 29 x Consortium partners to Arabic-speaking students at no cost. In addition, Edraak will develop its own courses in Arabic with leading Arab faculty members as well as world-renowned Arab professionals in a variety of fields. Edraak is the first MOOC portal for the Arab world.
These offerings will provide Arab students and professionals with a world-class educational experience with wide ranging courses, including courses that address contemporary issues and challenges in the Arab World through Arab perspectives.
The Edraak initiative is an expansion of HM Queen Rania's education advocacy. QRF was established to support the eight different education and development institutions that are directly affiliated with HM Queen Rania. QRF works with these affiliations to help align their work with HM Queen Rania's vision for the development and enhancement of educational services for all Jordanians. QRF supports the affiliations' efforts to effectively translate that vision into projects and initiatives, thereby strengthening their contribution, individually and collectively, to the various educational and development needs of the country, and eventually the Arab region.
T: With the growing popularity of MOOCs in the United States, do you think they will be welcomed similarly in the Arab world?
AA:My sense is that they will. The world in general has a voracious appetite for MOOCs, and edX already has some presence in Arab countries. EdX has registered learners from every country in the world. I anticipate that with the courses being translated into Arabic, they will grow even more popular.
T: When do you expect Erdaak to launch the Arabic language MOOCs?
AA: We do not have an exact date, but we expect that the translations will be available in early 2014.
T: In a report for the The National, John Everington claims that edX has been in talks with "several educational institutions in the UAE and the Middle East to host Arabic-language courses." Will there be other collaborations with edX, besides with the Queen Rania Foundation, to host Arabic-language MOOCs?
AA: We have a lot of interest from many institutions and entities all over the world, including others in the UAE and the Middle East. We hope to collaborate more to increase edX’s presence there, but any talks are in the early stages.