Digital platforms – Bridging the university-society gap

In an effort to improve efficiency and bypass bureaucracy, academics, scholars and experts in Algeria have launched a series of online platforms to promote their work and expertise, and meet the needs of society.

The creation of digital platforms is in its infancy in Algeria but they are developing a new, creative and innovative approach to education, learning and training, said technology expert, Yacine Rahmouni, who holds a PhD in computer sciences and is the manager of an ICT company in Algiers.

He said the platforms should serve as bridges between universities and society for knowledge sharing. “Algerian academics, scientists, researchers and practitioners have a pivotal and crucial role to play in articulating paths towards a prosperous future for the country. After all, platforms are the technological means and tools to contain and avoid sins of incompetence, bureaucracy and marginalisation of the Algerian elite,” he said.

Anasr or Victory is one of the new platforms developed by the Algerian network of academics, scientists and researchers. Younes Grar, an ICT expert, says it is a space for interaction to discover, share and inspire Algerian intellectuals across the world.

“It aims to foster a community of academics, scientists, researchers and practitioners by developing an independent forum for experiences and exchanges and providing its members with an effective means to corroborate their expertise,” said Grar.

So far, three projects have been launched. The first is an online interactive website, which contains an open directory of academics, scientists, researchers and practitioners. It has built up a number of interactive features to help members engage with each other in useful ways.

A second project is an online magazine, which offers scholars and academics space to publish their papers, according to its associate editor, Dr Abderrezzaq Soltani from the Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Centre, King’s College London.

The third project is the “Paper of the Year Award” which aims to recognise and celebrate scientific publications produced by Algerian scientists and researchers worldwide.

The Anasr platform is a “success story” for Algerians who created this space and enabled us to have virtual scientific and academic encounters, said Samir Belaadi, a PhD student in physics from the University of Sciences and Technology Houari Boumediene in Algiers.

“I have access to this innovative and creative platform and have derived benefit from different papers and publications that are linked to my thesis. We should replicate the platform at our university and offer it to our academic community,” said Belaadi.

Another platform, Khabirat El Djazair (experts of Algeria), is focused on media education and women.

According to Kamel Belkadi, a journalist for El Watan, a local French-speaking newspaper, the platform aims to improve the level of education and representation of women in the media. Khabirat already operates in Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan and Palestine and has recently launched its branch in Algeria.

The site contains experts’ profiles, equipped with an electronic library, which provides a series of publications, reports, and research and legal documents.

According to Aïcha Saidi, a media expert based in Algiers, the objective of the platform is to help develop a modern and positive image of female experts. “This platform is a practical and effective tool to educate and train women journalists who, for different reasons, are not enrolled in schools and institutes of journalism and multimedia production,” she said.

Journalist and media trainer Nafissa Lahreche said it provides women with an opportunity to complete higher education programmes provided by different institutes and faculties of journalism and media.

“Our platform offers practical tools and the means for practising journalism in real time compared to faculties of media and communication which in some cases can only provide theoretical programmes in the absence of adequate equipment and facilities,” she said.

Abderrahmane Arar, the president of NADA, a local non-governmental organisation for children’s rights, believes that the Khabirat El Djazair platform will also meet the immediate needs of civil society in terms of education, training and learning.

Another platform is Beeform which focuses on video training for companies seeking to improve the skills and education of employees.

Beeform Manager Omar Ali Yahia said: “Our project is the first 100% Algerian platform of e-learning and e-training. It provides partners with statistical tools that allow for real-time monitoring of their enrolled employees and the state of their progress in courses.”

The training programmes, according to Ali Yahia, have been put together by experts and consultants in collaboration with the trainers. “Beeform has already collaborated with many universities and organisations in the field, including many higher education schools and scientific centres such as the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales, CERIST [the research centre for scientific and technical information] and Tipaza Smart City.”