Online Degree, Online Courses and Distance Learning in Oman

About Online Degree, Online Courses and Distance Learning in Oman

Oman, officially known as the Sultanate of Oman, is an Arab nation in southwest Asia, situated on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula.  The country is bordered to the northwest by the United Arab Emirates, to the west by Saudi Arabia, and to the southwest by Yemen.  Oman’s coastline is formed by the Arabian Sea to the southeast and the Gulf of Oman to the northeast, and the country’s two enclaves, Madha and Musandam, share land borders with the United Arab Emirates, with the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman forming a coastal boundary in Musandam.  Oman has a population of nearly 2.8 million and is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, primarily due to its exportation of oil and other petroleum-based products.  The capital and largest city is Muscat and the national and sole official language in the country is Arabic, which is also the language of instruction at most Omani schools and universities.
Distance Education in Oman
Distance learning, a term now widely used to describe the pursuit of an education or degree via an online format, has been around for more than three decades, but it wasn’t until the mid 1990s that this form of education and learning really blossomed, both in the quality of the programs and their popularity among students.  As access to the Internet grew, many Omani colleges and universities began to incorporate distance learning into their higher education system, and as they quickly discovered, this form of educational delivery has many advantages.  For Omani students who were once limited by time, distance or even handicap, online education allowed them to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees from the comfort of their home, working at their own pace.  And for the colleges and universities in Oman—institutions that were once limited by available classroom space—distance learning has allowed them to significantly increase their enrollment and offer a quality education to students who would otherwise be excluded.
Distance education in Oman is called E-learning and its aim is to provide training and education programs via the Internet in a synchronous and non-synchronous manner.  There are two types of E-learning provided by the colleges and universities in Oman:  virtual classroom system and self-learning system.
Virtual Classroom System
The virtual classroom model of distance education is very similar to the traditional classroom experience, only the students who are taking the course attend it with the assistance of their computers and Internet connection.  Under this system the instructor uses an “electronic whiteboard” and delivers the day’s lesson much like he or she would with a room full of students.  Participants can listen to and watch the lecture through their computer, taking notes and typing questions as they arise, giving them the same level of access to the instructor as a traditional classroom student would have.  Students can tape the lecture as it is delivered, which gives them the benefit of returning to it as needed for clarification, and their assignments are sent and received via email, as are their exams and other projects associated with the course.
Self-Learning System
The self-learning system in Oman is the most popular form of distance education among students.  Under this system, students are sent a number of assignments all at once and are given a due date by the instructor as to when they should be completed.  Students can then work at their own pace when it’s most convenient for them, including nights and weekends if they prefer.  This allows those who are employed full-time or those with other responsibilities—students who would otherwise be too pressed for time to attend regular classroom sessions—the opportunity to pursue a degree in their chosen field, without having to travel to the university on a regular basis.  Once assignments are completed they are returned to the instructor, who will evaluate the work and share his or her comments as to how the student can improve.  Some programs require students to occasionally attend one or two classroom sessions, usually for things like exams or guest speakers, but there are now many programs that require no attendance whatsoever.
According to school administrators, over 80 percent of students in Omani colleges and universities now take at least a portion of their education through an online format—a percentage expected to gradually increase over the next five to ten years.

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