Dr. Mansoor Al Awar, Chancellor of Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University (HBMeU), recently joined discussions about the opportunities and challenges in adopting Open Educational Resources (OER) in the Middle East and the Arab world during the recently concluded 2012 UNESCO World Congress for Open Educational Resources in Paris, France. Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University represented the Middle East at the Congress where Dr. Al Awar underlined the urgent need to promote online education in the Arab world, which will help accelerate the integration of OER in mainstream education. HBMeU also contributed to the formulation of the 2012 Paris OER Declaration which calls on governments to support the development and use of OERs, following a series of regional and global discussions under the umbrella of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
On the sidelines of the Congress, several region and country-specific sessions and panel discussions were held to tackle various aspects of OER, including a discussion on the “Issues and Challenges for OER”, which saw the participation of Dr. Al Awar alongside ministers from Netherlands, Belgium, and Nigeria, in addition to the President of the Open University of China. The main focus of Dr. Al Awar’s discussion revolved around the road map for the Arab World on how to move forward in OER. Mrs. Mona Al Ayoubi, Learning & Innovations Strategies, Director, also attended the Congress to discuss in a technical panel how HBMeU is implementing its OER initiatives.
As the first Arab university to be a part of UNESCO’s efforts to promote OER, HBMeU has played a key role in promoting OERs in the Arab world, having pioneered various high-profile initiatives such as the recent Roundtable report titled “Creating a Culture of Shared Knowledge in the Arab World: The Role of Open Educational Resources” that was supported by the world’s most distinguished scholars and practitioners in the area of e-Learning.
Dr. Al Awar said: “We are pleased to contribute the formulation of the 2012 Paris OER Declaration, reaffirming our leadership in disseminating the culture of open education in the Arab world. It has always been our mission to create and spread knowledge by providing access to cost-effective education and taking advantage of the latest advances in technology and e-Learning. Moreover, we strongly believe that we are taking the right step forward with the implementation of various OER initiatives to encourage the creation of open and free educational materials in the region. We are confident that OER will play an important role in driving innovation and helping create positive changes in education in the Arab world. HBMeU has also pioneered several OER-driven programs and has actively supported global initiatives such as the UNESCO World Congress for Open Educational Resources to explore more opportunities for creating and promoting open educational resources. The university served as the voice of the Arab world during the Congress, where we presented the key findings of the Roundtable on OER that we organized in January 2012.”
The UNESCO World Congress for Open Educational Resources brought together ministers of education/human resource development, senior policy makers, expert practitioners, researchers and relevant stakeholders to discuss and share their experiences and to adopt the 2012 Paris OER Declaration. The event, which celebrated the 10th anniversary of the 2002 UNESCO Forum that created the term “OER”, showcased the world’s best practices in OER policies, initiatives and leading experts.
HBMeU has emerged as a leading advocate of OER initiatives in the region, taking advantage of its expertise and experience as a pioneer in e-Learning across the Arab world. The university recently released a Roundtable report that provided a foundation of useful knowledge as the region’s education stakeholders face challenging times and critical decisions regarding the fate and future of e-Learning and OERs.
HBMeU is the first e-learning institute in the Arab World that was established with the vision to develop a new learning process through the implementation of learning practices characterised by flexibility, quality and diversity to strengthen self-leadership among learners and prepare them socially and academically for a future career through integration in the job market. HBMeU’s philosophy is based on vital methods that have been developed through extensive research and development by specialists from all over the world. These methods include offering high quality programs, supporting the pursuit of lifelong learning, promoting the freedom of information, reinforcing the culture of excellence and innovation and providing education for everyone in line with the highest standards of comprehensiveness and credibility. The university, which is accredited by the UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, seeks to constantly identify knowledge needs, support research and development programs and create an outstanding environment for e-learning.