The stemazone initiative for Omani youth, funded by Eshraqa and designed and implemented by DAI, has launched in Oman. The innovative educational initiative is focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) for Omanis aged 7 to 15. Through the Sustainable Business Group and Center for Digital Acceleration, DAI partnered with Eshraqa—the social development of arm of Khimji Ramdas, one of the Sultanate’s leading business conglomerates—to deliver stemazone as its flagship corporate social responsibility program.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to social isolation; however, with the help of technology, education can continue through this tough time,” said Khimji Ramdas Director Nailesh Khimji.
In partnership with the Ministry of Education and the iconic Oman Children’s Museum, hosted within the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism, the program supports Oman’s Vision 2040 by equipping Omani youth with the skills they need to take on the challenges of the global economy in the 21st century. The stemazone curriculum introduces the concepts of science, technology, mathematics, and art through engaging activities that allow students to get hands-on experience with construction, design, robotics, coding, and more.
Pivoting to Digital Learning during COVID
With an anchor location at the Children’s Museum in Muscat and programming planned around the country, the stemazone always aimed to reach as many Omani students as possible. However, with the outbreak of COVID-19, the project had to make a fundamental shift to accommodate social distancing. The team pivoted to a hybrid delivery model combining in-person and virtual activities, leading to the development of a robust learning management system (LMS)—the e-stemazone—and courses specially designed for online learning.
The e-stemazone is live in both Arabic and English and offers a library of self-paced learning modules as well as live webinars led by skilled instructors. The stemazone Center at the Children’s Museum has built a modern, vibrant space to host in-person workshops once COVID safety guidelines permit re-opening.
A Digital-First Approach to Learning
The stemazone curriculum emphasizes best practices in hands-on learning by doing. Students will learn about technology, develop new skills with the guidance of experienced instructors, and conduct experiments based on the engineering design process—using simple materials they can find in their homes. The platform includes coding exercises for beginners from the age of seven to more intermediate coders. The e-stemazone will also help develop students’ technological skills by having them interact with content online.
Students can access the library of free courses at any time, with new content added weekly, and attend live webinars in both English and Arabic. The platform allows for easy navigation for students, parents, and teachers. Schools will be able to book private live workshops through the LMS. While the pivot to digital programming was unexpected, in the end, it has provided more opportunity to students outside of the capital city Muscat to participate in the program.
The e-stemazone uses mechanisms such as gamification to keep students actively learning on the platform and is adaptable to any device, including mobile phones and tablets.
Enabling Future Development in Oman
“DAI is immensely proud to play a role and partner with Eshraqa, Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Tourism, Ministry of Education, and Children’s Museum in realizing Oman’s Vision 2040,” said Chris MacDonald, Managing Director in DAI’s Sustainable Business Group, with responsibility for Oman and GCC countries. “The e-stemazone will inspire thousands of young people to unlock their potential and consider STEAM career opportunities. This curriculum and innovative learning environment have been designed to keep students engaged and equip them with valuable skills that will contribute to Oman’s economy and prosperity for generations to come.”
“We are delighted to launch the e-stemazone online learning platform through LMS, a cloud-based EdTech tool that assists educators to teach,” added Nailesh Khimji of Khimji Ramdas. “As a response to the COVID-19 crisis, governments around the world have issued public policies that include social distancing, isolation, and self-quarantine. Amidst all this, teaching through online methods is the best way forward. We are happy to make the e-stemazone platform available for students in Oman.”