Ras Al Khaimah Teachers Network
The Ras Al Khaimah Teachers Network (RAKTN) is a social and professional networking site launched by the Al Qasimi Foundation in 2010. The grassroots forum allows teachers and educators from Ras Al Khaimah, across the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and around the world to come together to share resources, ideas, and best practices for improving student learning and their own professional effectiveness. The network includes discussion forums, blogs, and free educational resources available for download. In addition, the RAKTN also plays an integral part in the Al Qasimi Foundation’s teacher professional development workshops, where it acts as a virtual learning platform to access course resources.
Vision & Goals
The RAKTN seeks to establish a professional community of education practitioners who collaborate, share knowledge, and ask questions. It is grounded in evidence that teachers themselves, rather than outside consultants, often have the solutions to the problems they face because of their experience in the classroom and rich local knowledge of students’ strengths and weaknesses. The online format allows education practitioners to connect and collaborate across the boundaries imposed by geography, gender segregation, school type, and subject matter. It also provides a space in which teachers can share their experiences, feel valued, and actively help one another make Ras Al Khaimah an inspiring and transformative teaching and learning environment—thereby contributing to the larger campaign of improving education in the Arab world.
The RAKTN includes more than 1,200 members, who access the site from more than 10 different countries. As the community has grown, so has its ability to expand its reach and impact:
- Training materials for creating education blogs have proven particularly popular with members. Their classroom blogs have opened alternative lines of communication with their students and generated original Arabic content online. This, in turn, has been picked up by practitioners in other Arabic-speaking countries in which teachers struggle to find digital Arabic learning materials.
- Forum discussions have been instrumental in breaking down the cultural and communication barriers among teachers. With the aid of translation tools, English and Arabic speakers are equally able to reply to discussion threads, which results in a woven exchange of the two languages. The discussion forums also bring teachers from government and private schools together. These teachers would otherwise rarely encounter each other in the normal course of school life, and yet they often discover there is much to learn from the respective school systems. In addition, as the RAKTN attracts more members from other countries, blog entries and forum comments candidly share the challenges and joys of working in schools in a diverse range of cultures.
- When asked about RAKTN and its impact on their professional practice, members frequently express their need to be up-to-date with technology as they seek to relate to their students. By connecting with the network, teachers are accessing the information, training, and resources they need to improve their teaching and make their classrooms more interactive to better serve their students.