Established in 1996, the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority is tasked with promoting commercial and tourism activities in the emirate of Sharjah.
SCDTA endeavors to develop these sectors through various events and activities, and promotes the emirate at local, regional and international levels.
The development of the learning platform for SCTDA was a multi-pronged challenge because of the following factors:
- Integration with the legacy system: It was essential to segregate the learning portal without hampering the legacy system and yet building a seamless coordination between the two.
- Inefficiencies in license renewal: They key test was to build an ardent on-demand license/license renewal system by eliminating requirement of critical mass for pre-requisite training, waiting times for practical assessment and license renewal.
- Modification of classroom-based learning: Adaptation of new technology by an audience used to traditional learning required development of innovative & simple to understand courseware.
The proposed solution was a customized learning portal tailored to suit SCTDA’s unique requirement of offering both its employees as well as outsiders looking at the opportunity to add value to their professional careers and broaden their skill sets through a range of online courses.
The new learning portal was segregated from the existing legacy system of the SCTDA dealing with registrations and payments and the course feedback and assessment was re-integrated into the government system for license issuance and renewals. An efficient looping system was designed to take user input from the existing legacy system, suggest relevant courses based on the user profile and push back the completions into the primary system.
This 2-way integrated system saved a bundle of operating costs for the SCDTA including the trainer’s time, accommodation and training costs, waiting time for license renewal etc. by enabling on-the-job training modules.
To enable the adaption of new technology across the workforce, visually communicative micro-learning courses were developed in simple language, in English and Arabic. These lessons were then gamified to increase interest and were made further engaging by using rich graphics, mascots and animated elements which provided continuous feedback for every response given by the learner. Feed- back on the lesson was collected from the learners and invested into the upcoming lesson designs.
The following features ensured immediate adaptation of the platform and a near-100% success rate in the thick of the pandemic lockdowns:
- User-friendly technology
- Integration with government registration system
- Highly focused and relevant courses followed by assessment & feedback pushed into the licensing system
- Ability to handle face-to-face assessments/practical exams
- Clear road map of the licensing process
In addition to this, SCTDA also catered to the hospitality with their updated guidelines and policies, through the platform. A specific course was outlined for this audience which enabled them to ensure and closely track the information and guidance required by the hotel representatives for re-opening of their businesses. Some of the most popular trainings offered on the platform are:
- Industry training you@sharjah for the hotel industry
- Rise in the city of Sharjah for Sharjah government employees
- Tour guide training for Beginners, Intermedia and Renewals
- Women empowerment trainings
- Virtual tours
The innovative project addressed the learning requirements of an entire gamut of Sharjah Tourism customers and across various sub-sectors of the hospitality and tourism industry through a compre-ensive platform. 25 hours of learning spread over a time span of 4 programs were developed and uploaded in a record time of 45 days.
There was significant reduction in direct/indirect cost for training (trainers’ time, learners’ time), and feedback collection. Training was now better received and retained as it was self-paced, gamified, and the quality was standardized and closely-monitored. Process-complexity reduced as complicated scheduling and planning for face to face training transformed to online, anytime, anywhere learning with 100% course completion rates.
Extrapolatory and in-person assessment services such as Bus tour booking, seminars and the on-the-job training modules were further introduced into the system to hone the candidates appearing for renewals.
The system went live in March 2020, right at the onset of the global pandemic and the staccato of the license renewals was made possible only through a 360 degree online transformation of the learning process. The earlier waiting time for registration of a critical mass of course-takers for the classes to begin and the waiting of 3-4 months for renewal of licensing was completely eliminated through the new system.
The learning system proved to be an extremely efficient tool in dealing with the training challenges during the global Covid-19 pandemic. While tour operators waited to go back to the physical work environment, they could make use of the time for virtual learning to enhance their knowledge and skills in various fields driving so much of today’s business and digital transformation.
The easy to understand courseware enabled ready adaption to the new technologies that drove the e-learning platform and contributed towards overall staff development at Dubai Tourism. Social-distancing norms that would have otherwise crippled the training goals were fully adhered to and the trainings were held 100% online and on-time.
“Through a creative use of media, social networking and exhibitions SCTDA is able to raise public awareness locally, regionally and internationally about Sharjah. By showcasing the tourist attractions and its distinct cultural offerings in international forums and exhibitions as well as celebrating them at home, the Authority has firmly put the emirate on the world tourism map. Our digital transformation through a new Learning Management System has made this initiative more accessible.”