I’m trying to wrap my brain around the week I’ve just concluded with the fine people of the Fujairah Colleges in the United Arab Emirates. The workshops were held at the Fujairah Women’s College but also included faculty from the Fujairah Men’s College as they immersed themselves into a week of professional development activities during Independent Learning Week (sort of like Spring Break, except that the students work on individual projects and the faculty are not on leave – so really not like Spring Break at all).
Much of the time was used looking at how Web 2.0 tools can be used by faculty to create engaging content for their courses as well as possible uses for student assignments or group projects that are facilitated through the use of web-based technologies. I spent much of the time with the same cohort of faculty who are working on the development of a laptop program at the college. A few other sessions were open to various other interested parties at the colleges.
Fujairah is located on the Gulf of Oman and is about a 90-minute drive from Dubai which is located to the east on the Persian Gulf. Fujairah is mostly mountainous, and quite beautiful. One of the most amazing experiences for me was finding that the city is an incredible melting pot of people from all over the world. At the Fujairah Colleges alone, the faculty come from more than 30 different countries. I spent quite a bit of time getting to know Andrew Scholtz who is from South Africa and Peter Hatherley-Greene who hails from New Zealand. Talk about global education – here you live it!
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Mark Johnson, Director (aka President) of the Fujairah Colleges. He contacted me several months ago about the possibility of coming to the UAE to provide this professional development for his faculty and staff. Mark and I got to know each other when we were colleagues in Minnesota. He was the CIO at MSU Mankato
and decided to leave Minnesota back in 2006 and move his family to the Emirates (story here). The accomplishments that Mark and his staff have achieved at these colleges are very impressive and he will undoubtedly be missed here in Fujairah when he returns to Minnesota at the end of the academic year.
This trip far exceeded my wildest dreams. The workshops were fun, seeing a new culture and country was fun, but by far the best part was all the great people I met here during the week. Really outstanding.