Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane - Spotlights

Spotlights

Dr. Hassane Darhmaoui Publishes Paper on Introducing Block-based Programming in the Training of Prospective Moroccan Teachers

Dr. Hassane Darhmaoui, professor at the AUI School of Science and Engineering, published an article titled "Visual Block-based Programming for ICT Training of Prospective Teachers in Morocco" in the International Journal of Modern Education and Computer Science (IJMECS) on 8 February 2022. He worked with Dr. Ibrahim Ouahbi of the Mohammed First University in Nador, Morocco, and Dr. Fatiha Kaddari of the University Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah in Fez, Morocco. The objectives of their study were to "enrich pre-service teachers' ICT (information communications technology) experience"; "introduce an algorithmic approach for the design of educational activities in other subjects"; and to "increase awareness about the importance of computer programming and coding in primary education." 
 

As this study is part of a larger effort to find ways to enhance the teaching of computer science (CS) and coding skills in the Moroccan education system, one solution the authors of this study have identified is training primary school teachers in CS and showing them ways they can integrate coding into their teaching. Thus, the study targeted 63 pre-service teachers at the Faculty of Educational Science (FSE) and the Regional Center for Education and Training Professions (CRMEF) in Nador, Morocco, and they were trained with Scratch, a visual block-based program. Block-based programming languages simplify coding by providing coders with a toolkit of blocks that can be understood as "sentence starters." These blocks can be dragged and dropped into the area where the lines of code are typed, which is known as the "script area." 

The areas of specialty of the selected prospective teachers were not necessarily related to CS, as they included "Musical Education" and "Amazigh language" . The participants were introduced to these topics and had the opportunity to build educational games they could use with their students. Based on the surveys conducted before and after the trainings, it seems the experiment was largely successful in changing the perception the pre-service teachers had of the benefits and feasibility of integrating CS in their teaching. Some of the benefits they noted included helping students develop their imaginations, learn to cooperate with others, develop communication skills, motivate students to learn the discipline they teach, and help students in general with their learning. In addition, comparing the responses of the pre-service teachers before and after the experiment, it is clear the participants felt more empowered to integrate CS into their teaching and be able to introduce students to basic CS skills, and most concluded the experiment with the newfound belief that teaching programming at the elementary school level is important.  

Dr. Falah, Dr. Benamar, and SSE Students Publish Paper on the Utility of Blockchain in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

In the context of the Centre National des Recherches Scientifiques et Techniques (CNRST) project for COVID-19, the associate professor, Dr. Bouchaib Falah and adjunct faculty, Dr. Nabil Benamar, from the School of Science and Engineering (SSE), with the students Fatima Ezzahra El Aidos and Meryem Kassab, published a paper titled "A Comprehensive Survey On Blockchain-Based Solutions to Combat Covid-19 Pandemic" in the International Journal of Computing and Digital Systems (IJDC), which is indexed by ScopusINSPECGoogle ScholarUlrich's Periodicals DirectoryGale, a Cengage Company; EBSCO; the British Library; the Directory of Open Access Resources (ROAD)DOAJ, and WorldCat. 

 

In their paper, they focus on the existing Blockchain-based applications that have been proposed so far to deal with contact tracing, as well as the privacy issues they may lead to. The paper is a survey that compares and evaluates contact-tracing applications based on a number of criteria: notably privacy, security, scalability, proximity estimation, possible attacks, latency, throughput, and resource utilization. Furthermore, the paper presents techniques that integrate Blockchain with Artificial Intelligence. 

 

More details about the published article can be found in: https://journal.uob.edu.bh/handle/123456789/4575 

Dr. Chtouki, Dr. Benamar, and SSE Students Co-author Paper Analyzing the Relationship Between GPA and Employability

Dr. Yousra Chtouki, Professor in the School of Science and Engineering (SSE), and Dr. Nabil Benamar, Adjunct Professor, co-authored a paper with undergraduate students Kamar Tahri Joutei, Fatima Zahra Belhadj, and Asmae Chraibi. The data was collected and analyzed as part of their Data Analysis class, and this publication is part of the effort to encourage more undergraduate research at AUI. The paper, titled "Meta-Interpreting the Correlation Between the Grade Point Average and Employability: a case study," was published in IEEE Xplore on the 29th of December 2021 and in the 2021 International Conference on Data Analytics for Business and Industry (ICDABI), which took place from the 25th to the 26th of October 2021. 

 

The goal of the research was to identify if there was a correlation between Grade Point Average (GPA) and employability, as a lot of students think that higher grades result in "brighter futures." Therefore, the authors collected the GPAs of AUI alumni from 2018 to 2019 and compared it to current data on their employment. The results showed that there was no direct correlation between GPA and employment, which highlights the importance of other factors - in addition to GPA - for securing employment, such as developing soft skills. 

 

More details can be found at: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9655947

Dr. Muhammad Ikram Publishes Paper on Green Technology Planning in Sustainability Journal

Dr. Muhammad Ikram, assistant professor at the AUI School of Business Administration (SBA), has published an article titled “Enabling Progress in Developing Economies: A Novel Hybrid Decision-Making Model for Green Technology Planning.” The article has been published in the prestigious Sustainability Journal, which is indexed in SSCI, SCI & Scopus, and has a 3.251 impact factor.

This study develops and assesses  Green Technology (ST) strategies for sustainable development by using an integrated SWOT-grey AHP and grey TOPSIS approach. To perform this, we combined SWOT internal and external factors such as Strength–Opportunity, Weakness–Opportunity, Strength–Threat, and Weakness–threat, and prioritized twenty-one green technology strategies. We explored twenty-two sub-factors of green technology under four categories of SWOT main factors: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats; and twenty-two sub-factors. We then determined their weights by using a novel GAHP method based, on their relative importance.

Our research provides several theoretical and practical implications. Theoretical implications include exploring SWOT main factors and sub-factors and developing GT strategies by proposing a taxonomy of GT indicators to achieve sustainable development. We also observe benefits for increased green business practices and sustainable development planning from an integrated approach at a national level. We predict additional benefits from integrated management at the firm level and provide this opportunity for future research.

A practical implication identified from the study is that our framework can help decision-makers, planners, and government agencies develop GT strategies at a national level. The application of SWOT-GAHP and GTOPSIS provides a new insight where the agriculture sector has a high potential for GT investment because Pakistan’s economy is highly dependent on agriculture. This framework can be applied to other developing countries to help align investment in technologies and industries that align with the United Nation’s SDGs. An important takeaway is that Pakistan should improve its security situation, as this will help to open the door for FDIs in GT.

More details about the article can be found at: https://doi.org/10.3390/su14010258

Dr. Muhammad Ikram Publishes a Co-authored Paper on Lean Green Practices, Sustainability-oriented Innovation, and Triple Bottom Line in International Journal of Production Economics

 

Dr. Muhammad Ikram, assistant professor at the AUI School of Business Administration (SBA), has published an article titled “Towards a sustainability paradigm; the nexus between lean green practices, sustainability-oriented innovation, and Triple Bottom Line.” The article has been published in the prestigious, International Journal of Production Economics in ABS 3*, ABDC-A, SCI & Scopus, and has a 7.885 impact factor.

This study develops a multidimensional framework in a broader way to examine the integrated relationship of lean manufacturing practices and three dimensions of environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Further, this study investigates how sustainability-oriented innovation as a mediator plays a vital role to improve the sustainability performance of manufacturing organizations in developing countries. Moreover, lean practices will lead to higher adoption of sustainability-oriented innovation, which again leads to higher sustainability performance. Finally, this study is the first of its kind to investigate the impact of lean manufacturing practices on environmental, economic, and social sustainability in context of Jordan manufacturing companies as a developing country.

More details about the article can be found at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpe.2021.108393