BZU Hosts METHODS Networking and Dissemination Workshop
Birzeit University, in partnership with the Erasmus+ Program, held the Networking and Dissemination workshop to introduce the Modernization of Teaching Methodologies in Higher Education: EU Experience for Jordan and Palestine (METHODS) project to a wide audience of faculty and staff members from Birzeit, Al-Najah, Bethlehem, and Palestine Polytechnic Universities. The workshop discussed its effects, current implementation, and possible methods of development.
The Vice President for Development and Planning at Birzeit University, Dr. Mirvat Bulbul, discussed in her welcoming remarks the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Palestinian universities. She highlighted the newly-christened “Student Leadership and Active Citizenship Program-Masari” at Birzeit University, which combines academic and entrepreneurial training to instill the skills students need to create bright futures for themselves.
“We have learned during our preparation for the Masari that students learn outside the classroom more so than they do inside, and we’ve incorporated that into the program. It revolves around three main circles: The Student Circle, which relates to the students and their future plans; the Society Circle, which relates to student interactions with society as a whole; and the Social Actions Circle, which relates to how students can affect or be affected by society,” Dr. Bulbul said.
The Local Coordinator for the METHODS Project, Dr. Wasel Ghanem, specified the project’s international and regional partners, its aims, and its implementation methods. He said, “With this project, we hope to raise the competencies of learners and facilitate their transition into active learners.” An active learner, Dr. Ghanem continued, “is one who actively looks for information, whether inside or outside the classroom. Our aim is to make the learning process learner-focused, instead of instructor-focused.”
On the scope of the project and its partners, Dr. Ghanem added, “We have partners in Europe such as the University of Wolverhampton in the UK; the Leipzig University of Applied Sciences in Germany; and the University of Deusto in Spain, in addition to numerous regional and local partne
rs. We will utilize these partnerships and the available resources we have to employ a total reimagination of the learning process from top to bottom, one in which the information and communications technology will play a very big role.”
The Manager of the Palestinian Technopark, Laith Qassis, detailed the Technopark’s role in the academic as well as the entrepreneurial process, highlighting its role as the economic link between the cultural, academic and economic aspects of the Palestinian community. He said, “As the first national project in information technology in Palestine, the Technopark is focused on the development of start-up clustering and the entrepreneurial ecosystem, which usually grows out of universities, hence our location at Birzeit University.”
The role of the Technopark does not end there, Qassis noted. It also includes predicting and utilizing new and advanced technologies. He said, “Our Innovation Labs are at the forefront of new and exciting technologies. Not only do we utilize these nascent technologies, we also teach and instruct on how to use them whether in work or in everyday life. Technology has become an integral part of the modern lifestyle - being technologically-illiterate is not an option anymore.”
The CEO of Ultimate Technologies, Saeed Zaidan, discussed the role of the private sector in supporting the development of education in technology. He said, “One of the main issues in the Arab world is that the private sector doesn’t invest in ICT education. All the big, multinational technology companies in the world pour millions of dollars into technological education. I think that one of the most important steps we can take to mitigate this problem is to create a national public-private partnership (PPP) in order to tackle the issue from a multitude of fronts.”
The CEO of Partners for Sustainable Development (PSD), Jawad Abu Own, detailed his own experience in ICT education in Palestine with the NETKETABi initiative. He said, “While we’ve faced some very big obstacles, we’ve succeeded in providing students with the technological needs they require for a modern lifestyle. We’ve partnered with Intel to provide its Intel Learning Series to students. We’ve also partnered with Microsoft to provide its suite of software products to students for a very small amount of money. In addition to our software offerings, we’ve trained teachers and students on the use of technology in the classroom, and we’ve found everyone to be extremely receptive to technology; it’s just a matter of breaking the initial barriers and getting over the obstacles.”