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A collaborative learning environment

19th of May, 2014

EBTIC created a collaborative learning environment as part of iCampus initiative



Khalifa University has recently wrapped up the second trial run of a new online learning initiative called CLE (Collaborative Learning Environment), which it has developed in conjunction with the Etisalat BT Innovation Center (EBTIC).

CLE is part of a bigger program called iCampus, which focuses on building the campus of the future through several online initiatives, including iLearning, iSocial, iGovernance, iGreen, iHealth, and iManagement. The iCampus initiative is an international endeavor, and EBTIC is focusing on projects within the iSocial and iLearning aspects.


CLE which is part of the iLearningprogramme, allows students and teachers to work collaboratively on assignments in a virtual environment. Students use CLE to work together on project, while their teachers/instructors can use the system to individually assess how much work each student has put into the project, this way the teacher/instructor can see if all members of the group have contributed to the project equally, rather than one or two doing the majority of the work. The students will also have the opportunity to view what and how much work their project partners are doing.

The environment comes equipped with audio, video and text chats, as well as group forums, the ability to upload files and synchronous editing. To date, EBTIC has run two trials of the system with freshman design classes at Khalifa University. The first trial involved over 150 students, and the second 180. The next step will be to introduce the system to the entire campus.

“The feedback from the trials has been positive, and useful for introducing enhancements to the system,” says Dr. Benjamin Hirsch, Senior Researcher at EBTIC who developed the system. “The work really couldn’t have been done without close collaboration with Khalifa University, and its faculty, including Dr. George Hitt, Dr. Shadi Balawi and Dr. Kinda Kahlaf, who made the trial runs possible. I believe that this system will be of great benefit to our students and I’m looking forward to rolling it out campus wide.”

“This is an inspiring initiative, and I believe it presents an exciting new era of online learning for our students. We developed CLE, not only to drive and enhance students’ collaboration, but also to facilitate student-faculty communication and collaboration.” says EBTIC Director Professor Nader Azarmi. “One of EBTIC’s main objectives is to develop local talent, and this is supported by KU’s approach to education and learning. KU has been open minded in looking at state of the art methods and technologies that would enhance education and more importantly learning in and out of the classroom. “Khalifa University is a forward looking institution, dedicated to the achievement of the Abu Dhabi 2030 and UAE 2021 Visions, which makes it the ideal place to try out new technologies and methods aimed at developing talents and skills for the UAE’s knowledge economy. Without Khalifa University’s pioneer spirit, we wouldn’t be as far along as we are.”