Israeli university’s online course to be ‘attended’ by Pakistani, Afghani students

Students from Muslim-majority nations such as Pakistan and Afghanistan are among those signing up for an innovative online program offered by Israel’s Bar Ilan University.

When Bar Ilan University launches its first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) at the start of the academic year on October 25, it will have students from a few places that one wouldn’t normally imagine would study with an Israeli institution of higher learning: Students from Pakistan and Afghanistan are among those who have registered for “The Bible in Light of the Ancient Near East,” a course produced by Bar Ilan’s Zalman Shamir Department of Bible Studies.

Lecturer Dr. Nili Samet said online courses are a way to break down geographical and cultural barriers between students from around the world. “For me this is the best way to make an academic course available,” Samet said. “I believe around 100 students will register for the course.”

The nine-week course is one of ten MOOCs being launched by Israeli universities on IsraelX, a national consortium of higher education institutions in Israel, using the edX platform developed by Harvard and MIT. Among the courses available are Haifa University’s Digital Culture/Clutter: Life and Death on the Net; Tel Aviv University’s Arab-Islamic History: From Tribes to Empires and the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Liberating Programming: System Development for Everyone.

Acacia Landfield, Project Manager at the Office of Digital Learning at MIT, told Tazpit Press Service that Israel is advanced in the field of MOOCs. “Israel is one of  the only countries that is financially involved in the development of MOOCs and put together a budget to allow all Israeli Universities to create MOOC Courses, which is very expensive,” Landfield said.

By: Mara Vigevani/TPS on October 03, 2017