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King's launches engineering online course for refugee students and host communities

Over 40 students in Lebanon have completed the Principles of Engineering course through the Partnership for Digital Learning and Increased Access.

Facilitator teaching students Principle of Engineering course

The innovative Principles of Engineering course, which launched in April 2021, is designed for refugees, displaced people and the communities supporting them in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region who wish to study an Engineering-related course at university. Developed by King’s Online in collaboration with the Department of Engineering and King’s Global Engagement, Principles of Engineering is one of eight Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) delivered through the FutureLearn platform as part of the Partnership for Digital Learning and Increased Access (PADILEIA).

The four-week course covers an introduction to engineering, including design thinking, sustainable development, material design and selection, and communication technology. Throughout the course, learners get the chance to hear from world-famous engineers, pursue their own design projects, and learn about a wide variety of areas with an engineering slant, such as drones, artificial intelligence, 5G telecoms and robots for healthcare.

Available freely worldwide for self-paced study, the Principles of Engineering course was also offered to students studying at the PADILIEA study hub based in Beqaa, Lebanon. These students were provided with facilitators to guide them through the course and had the opportunity to participate in group activities. So far, 44 students in Lebanon have completed the course as part of three separate cohorts. The students have reported that it enriched their knowledge by giving them a clearer understanding about different aspects of engineering. They also expressed comfort and confidence in asking questions about different course contents and support with project preparation.

One of the course facilitators Phillipe commented: ‘The Principle of Engineering course was the best course I have been teaching so far.’ He continues that the course helped the students to ‘think like engineers.’ Afaf, a student on the Principles of Engineering course, said that it 'changes your perspective on how things work. You become better in making decisions and it defines your passion for later.'

Thank you for the useful information that helped us develop ourselves through modern technology. Even the facilitators helped us a lot. We are very grateful for their interpretation of the information and enlightening us on self-development through technical and technological means.– Boushra, Principles of Engineering student
Taking up this professional course is so important for the students to improve their performance in any career. Their performance is illustrated in their projects. Their ideas are fascinating.– Dima, Principles of Engineering facilitator

King’s Online plays a pivotal role in the design and development of the PADILEIA MOOCs. To ensure learner-centred design is always the number one priority, King’s Online engaged with facilitators, students in the region and King’s academics to deliver content suited to the students’ current knowledge and interests.

The Principles of Engineering course was co-developed by King’s Online in collaboration with Professor Mischa Dohler and Professor Claire Lucas from the Department of Engineering. As part of the course, Mischa and Claire delivered virtual live-teaching teaching to 14 students, providing four hours of further teaching to the cohort based in Lebanon. This is a first for the PADILEIA project and initial feedback has been positive. Course facilitator Phillipe commented that ‘the collaboration with King’s professors Mischa and Claire helped students to gain knowledge and to see how topics were real and applicable. This kept them excited to learn more about new technologies and to think about the upcoming new technologies.’

Professor Claire Lucas, Professor of Engineering Teaching and Learning, who joined King’s in 2020 in part due to the university’s Service agenda, stated: ‘Creating the course with Mischa and the team was a fantastic experience and getting to deliver some live sessions with students in Lebanon and hear their project ideas was truly inspiring.’

 

Professor Mischa Dohler, Chair Professor of Wireless Communications, said: ‘It was an exciting experience to record modern engineering principles for this MOOC. I loved the interaction with my colleague Professor Claire Lucas as well as the interaction with the students when live-teaching. Great to see King’s move into the online learning space; and wonderful to have such a pro team from King’s Online supporting us throughout.’

 

We’re going to teach you some design thinking skills, we’re going to teach you some engineering science, and we’re going to teach you about some really cool applications of engineering. And that’s so that you can start to think like an engineer. We want you to start to leave this course able to see the world around you in a different way and see the ways that you can change it. And most of all, we want you to believe that you are capable of changing the world. – Professor Claire Lucas, Introduction to Principles of Engineering

Led at King’s by Dr Tania Lima, PADILEIA aims to help support the education and future careers of Syrian refugees and host community students in Jordan and Lebanon through online and blended courses. As well as providing facilitated learning for over 400 students in Lebanon at the Beqaa study hub, the PADILEIA courses are freely available for self-paced study and can be accessed worldwide.

So far, over 13,000 self-identifying refugees and disadvantaged young people have participated in one of these courses, and more than 900,000 learners have enrolled onto one of the PADILEIA courses to gain competencies essential to business management, entrepreneurship, nursing and digital skills. In addition, some of the courses have been included in the Department for Education’s Skills Toolkit and the Grow stronger with Google initiative, allowing them to reach significantly more beneficiaries.

The Partnership for Digital Learning and Increased Access (PADILEIA) is an initiative under the Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform (SPHEIR), funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in the UK.

Find out more about how King’s is contributing to understanding and responding to the global issue of forced displacement and helping to realise the educational potential of refugees on theKing’s Sanctuary Programme webpage.

In this story

Claire Lucas

Claire Lucas

Professor of Engineering Teaching and Learning

Mischa Dohler

Mischa Dohler

Chair Professor of Wireless Communications