Avicenna Virtual Campus
The Avicenna Virtual Campus for Science and Technology is an e-learning knowledge network in the Mediterranean which has become a model for quality online teacher training and education for students. Named after 10th-century Persian scientist and philosopher Ibn Sina, the Avicenna Virtual Campus uses information and communication technologies to help educate students and share skills, resources and research results among universities.
Avicenna was launched by UNESCO in November 2002 with funding from the European Commission through its Euro-Mediterranean Information Society (EUMEDIS) programme.
The programme involves partner universities in Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Spain, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The most recent addition to the network was Iraq in 2009.
The European Commission has declared the Avicenna Virtual Campus a ‘sustainable model’. This is because the Avicenna model differs from other virtual campuses, in that each university is autonomous in creating its own online course material. In addition, each is entitled to share the knowledge bank of an open virtual library constituted by the partners in the network. Within this virtual knowledge network, professors produce courses in scientific and engineering fields online using their university’s curriculum.
Participating universities may share, adapt and translate teaching modules via the open virtual library. Although it is a ‘campus’, Avicenna does not actually award degrees itself. That remains the prerogative of the universities concerned. In addition to producing courses, Avicenna has helped to establish local infrastructure and to transfer best practices and professional know-how within the participating universities.
The Avicenna Virtual Campus is working closely with universities belonging to the African Virtual Campus, a second network launched by UNESCO in October 2008.