Last updated: 15.11.12

UAE to roll out online learning campaign

An international campaign promoting the use of e-learning in universities and other educational institutions was announced in Dubai yesterday (November 13th).

The one-year initiative was revealed during the inauguration of the International Council for Open and Distance Education Standing Conference of Presidents 2012 (ICDE 2012), which was held at the Hamdan Bin Mohammad e-University.

Around 150 presidents from open and e-learning facilities attended the event and were able to discuss the strengths, challenges and strategies in online education.

The campaign is due to be operated via the ICDE website, while its wider network of 100 institutions from 50 countries will promote distance learning from their own portals.

Professor Tian Belawati, president of the ICDE and rector of the Indonesian Open University, said the scheme is looking to raise more awareness around the possibilities offered in digital learning.

"In order to do this, we want to share the best practices so that people will know about the opportunities available in open and distance learning," she added.

The event - which marked 74 years since the ICDE was formed - featured discussion on how e-learning can help countries overcome socio-economic challenges and whether any changes should be made to its quality and regulatory framework.

Prof Belawati stated advancements in technology have eliminated the distinction between face-to-face faculties and open education institutions, which in turn has led to a rise in demand for online educational platforms.

She continued: "Thousands of universities are now offering online programmes and, according to statistics, there are now 15 million students attending these e-learning facilities."

A number of leaders in online teaching gave speeches at the conference, such as Dr Laurence Johnson - chief executive officer of the New Media Consortium - and Dr Badr Aboul-Ela, vice-president of the Arab Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education in the UAE.

This follows recent research conducted by Ambient Insight that found Asia possesses the highest international growth rate for e-learning and the continent's revenues in the sector are forecast to reach $11.5 billion (£7.2 billion) by 2016.