The importance of open education

By Haitham Al Humsi, Online Learning Manager at KAUST

When we look at the themes of Vision 2030 — to create a vibrant society, an ambitious nation and a thriving economy — there is one common denominator: securing future employment for a young, talented and vibrant population that is not dependent on oil. As much as the new economy requires significant foreign direct investment, much more than that is the investment in human capital.

It is probably no surprise that the theme of this year’s Future Investment Initiative is focused on investing in humanity, with business and policy leaders discussing the future of work, investment in education and how to nourish the next generation to succeed in work and life.

EdTech, already a $90 billion market, and, accelerated by the pandemic, it is expected to double over the next four years with leading education leaders like King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) innovating at scale in real time to provide better educational outcomes.

At KAUST, the pandemic forced us to ask ourselves a big question about how we invest in the youth of today and tomorrow to encourage them to innovate and take calculated risks to progress humanity. It struck us that much of that success requires the youth to invest in themselves, so how could we support future entrepreneurs to consider what big problems in the world they would like to invest in?

We set ourselves a goal to create a learning experience that would be an adventure of exploration of oneself and one’s world, based on four key design principles:

  • Make it playful: Because creating new things is fun and exciting, and everything is possible
  • Make it accessible: Because innovation, inspiration and disruptive ideas can come from anyone and anywhere
  • Make it flexible: So that fathers and mothers, employees with a side hustle and full-time students, young and old, all have the ability to participate
  • Make it impactful: Help them see how small beginnings, like those of the people like them and around them in Jeddah, Riyadh and Sharqiya, can quickly grow to create a big impact, and there is nothing stopping them from doing the same.

With these enablers in mind, KAUST launched the first-ever Arabic Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) on entrepreneurship in partnership with edX. Entrepreneurship Adventures is fully accessible online to all Arabic speakers and is free of charge. Over 71,000 people have accepted the challenge of #WhoWillYouBe, and they are well on their way to creating a better life for themselves, the communities around them and the Kingdom.

I am proud to be part of the KAUST team that developed the course. I’m also proud to be in an environment at KAUST where we are able to ask big questions like “How can we be part of a positive change in this generation of youth and more to come in the future?” and take the risks and put in the investments required to bring these ideas to life.

I hope many people find their purpose and passions through our learning experiences so that they will succeed in work and life, feel empowered to contribute to a diverse economy and make a personal impact on progressing humanity.

Find out more about our next Entrepreneurship Adventures course by visiting: