DMC drives learning with Element K

Dubai Men’s College (DMC), part of the UAE’s Higher Colleges of Technology, is deploying an Element K e-learning solution to prepare students for the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) exam.

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By  Neil Denslow Published  June 1, 2003

Dubai Men’s College (DMC), part of the UAE’s Higher Colleges of Technology, is deploying an Element K e-learning solution to prepare students for the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) exam. If the programme proves to be successful, it is expected to be rolled out across the rest of the Higher Colleges of Technology.

The college first adopted the ICDL in order to ensure that staff had good basic IT skills. However, the certification is now being offered to students as well, as an extra curricula option. “It’s not formally part of the curriculum, but we are offering it to the better students as an added extra,” explains Jonathan Wilde, ICDL test centre manager & head of business & IT, Dubai Men’s College.

The ICDL comprises of seven different sections that cover the full range of basic PC skills. It is aimed at end users, as opposed to IT professional, and as such the college is targeting the courses at first and second year students on non-IT courses. In the initial Element K deployment, 50 students are studying for the exam.

DMC adopted the ICDL for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it was platform neutral. This was important to the college as its did not want to be tied to just using Microsoft products, as it is also trains students on Linux. Students have also been attracted by the certification’s international status, as they recognise that it will enhance their job prospects once they graduate. “We weren’t sure how the students were going to react to it, but they seem quite excited about getting an international recognised qualification,” notes Wilde.

“We have also had a directive from His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan [chancellor of HCT] to try to get more of our programmes tied to the international qualifications, and this also goes along with that directive,” he adds.

Once it had decided on the ICDL, the college considered designing its own e-learning courses. However, it quickly became apparent that turning to an outside supplier would be a more cost effective option. “Hundreds of hours go into developing one course, [and] even for an organisation as large as we are it just doesn’t make a lot of sense,” says Wilde.

After assessing a variety of options, the college selected Element K’s ICDL content, which is controlled by the vendor’s bilingual learning management system (LMS), KnowledgeHub. Wilde says that it opted for Element K because the courses were well designed and the English content was pitched at the right level for the college’s students. The company’s local presence was a key factor as well. “There’s lots of ICDL training materials on the web, but the critical thing as far as I am concerned is how much support we get, and they [Element K] have been very helpful,” he says.

A further advantage was the provision of bilingual content, as this will allow the college to offer training to non-students, such as government employees. “We do get quite a lot of requests for Arabic training… [and it] would be nice for outside people whose English skills aren’t quite as good as our students,” says Wilde.

Within the college, students will be offered a blended learning environment, where they will use the Element K e-learning content in instructor-led sessions. Such approach will ensure that the students are able to properly access the system and that they can immediately seek advice and assistance. “There’s nothing to stop a student doing it on their own, but I think it is important for the first course at least that they get introduced it,” says Wilde.

Wilde hopes to persuade the HCT’s central academic body to adopt the course across all of its constituent colleges as an integral part of the curriculum. “If not, we might just charge the students individually for the courses as they are not too expensive,” he says.

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