Building the University of the Future in Iraq
UNESCO Iraq took the latest step in developing e-learning Avicenna Virtual Campuses in Iraq by gathering 18 representatives from Iraqi universities and four international experts in a meeting in Philadelphia University in Jordan from 21 to 22 June 2011.
In its efforts to enhance the quality of higher education in Iraq, the UNESCO Iraq Office hosted the fourth in a series of workshops to develop and expand the Avicenna Virtual Campus for Iraq (AVCI). In partnership with the Office of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser to support the rehabilitation of the Iraqi higher education system, UNESCO Iraq organized the technical workshop in Jordan on 21-22 June 2011, gathering four e-learning international experts from France, Turkey and Germany and a team of eighteen Iraqis from nine universities to build a vision for a university of the future in Iraq.
As an e-learning knowledge network with partner universities all over the Mediterranean, the Avicenna Virtual Campus uses information and communication technologies to help educate students and build international linkages among universities to share best practices, research and resources. Hosted by Philadelphia University, a leading UNESCO e-learning Center in the Middle East, the meeting focused on enhancing the quality of education through the improvement of online course production and virtual teaching processes while building consolidated partnerships among Iraqi and international universities.
Iraqi teams composed of managers, technical and pedagogical experts from the Universities of Baghdad, Basra and Salahaddin were gathered to launch the three main e-learning centers. Key computer department officers from six other Iraqi universities, Kufa, Mosul, Muthana, Al-Anbar, Wasit and Sulaimaniyah, also attended the meeting in the hopes of expanding the network to encompass nine e-learning centres by the end of the project in 2013.
The event was also an opportunity for Mohamed Djelid, Director of UNESCO Iraq, to unveil the Virtual Portal of Avicenna Virtual Campus of Iraq in the presence of key officials from both Ministries of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Bagdad and Kurdistan. The Portal is the end-users interface encompassing the technical platform, the Virtual Library, the Avicenna Quality Assurance System (AQAS). The Iraqi e-learning team will be intensively producing online courses for the two upcoming months for submission to the Avicenna Scientific Board for accreditation. All accredited online courses will then be uploaded in the portal for practical use by Iraqi students.
In addition to this meeting, the UNESCO Iraq Office also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Philadelphia University to support the Office’s efforts in expanding the Avicenna Virtual Campus in Iraq, thereby facilitating linkages with the Mediterranean Avicenna Network and transferring the expertise and experience they built up along the past few years. The meeting allowed Iraqi participants to become better acquainted with the experiences of the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Turkey and from the University of Hamburg in Germany, seeing the great opportunities offered by e-learning to improve learning as a whole and develop lifelong learning processes.
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