AAUP participated in a conference about e-learning held by Israa University in Gaza via ZOOM. The conference discussed the reality of e-learning, how effective it is, the mechanisms to improve it especially under the COVID-19 pandemic that Palestine and the whole world is facing.
Prof. Ali Zeidan Abu Zuhri- a Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Head of the Higher Education Department, the Head of the Palestinian National Commission for Education, Culture and Science and AAUP President participated in the conference along with Dr. Mo’ayad Abu Saa’- the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dr. Ahmad Owais- the Director of the E-Learning Center.
In his speech in the opening session, Prof. Abu Zuhri said: “under the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the social, economic, educational and cultural life aspects, the world became in need to do a performance evaluation stage to help putting responsibilities in its right places. We have faced such a difficult experience in the past months, and we managed to draw our own achievements and failures map that helped us to reach an improvement on our performance. This conference came to deliver our education message in this hard time in which during it we have found great determination from you all to provide the best performance for our students’ ambitions”. Prof. Abu Zuhri also asserted on the importance of the conference to put scientific based recommendations and studies to help the decision makers to build their decisions in a continuous evaluation process frame for the e-learning process that was forced on the educational institutions including higher education institutions.
Prof. Abu Zuhri added: “In our role in the Palestine Liberation Organization- the Department of Higher Education, and the Palestinian National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, we are the connection between the related national institutions and the international organizations and institutions that work in the education and culture fields such as: the UNESCO, ICESCO and ALECSO. In the previous experience during the past months, and under our continuous follow up for other countries’ experiences and what other organizations provide concerning expertise, and especially when the estimations show that the pandemic will continue for a while, the educational institutions will most likely continue following the mixed education (face-to-face and e-learning). It has become an important issue to switch between the face-to-face and the e-learning systems smoothly and in a flexible way that is determined according to the pandemic situation. This educational process case will take in consideration the individual and institutional differences, the possible challenges and the preparations of the e-learning infrastructure. This will lead to focusing more on building capacities, qualifying staff and students, restructuring the infrastructure, developing new educational and teaching methods, the suitability of the curriculum with the e-learning methods, benefiting from other experiments and the importance of finding a system to control and organize the e-learning process by collaborating with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. This e-learning system need to rely on an objective evaluation and assessment, a forward-looking vision and predictive future studies to deal with the current crisis and any future possible crisis.
In the sessions of the conference, Dr. Mo’ayad Abu Saa’ presented a paper about how two years ago Arab American University adopted the e-learning system as a developmental idea. AAUP established the e-learning center and a study was prepared to understand the possibility of depending on e-learning to support the face-to-face learning. This in turn helped AAUP in taking this huge step in the e-learning system easily when the emergency period started as a result of COVID-19. AAUP also formed an emergency committee to follow up the e-learning step by step.
Dr. Abu Saa’ clarified that AAUP applied e-learning through “Moodle” platform as an educational environment and “ZOOM” application for interactive lectures. He talked about the challenges that faced the e-learning and how AAUP overcame the difficulties by raising students’ awareness about the e-learning and providing the technical support and the sufficient training for them. Also other challenges faced the university in training the faculty members and providing the needed technical support for them and providing the programming services and the needed servers.
Dr. Abu Saa’ also talked about the electronic evaluation strategies, and finished his speech by talking about the methods that AAUP applied to develop the e-learning system like participating in the local and international courses and designing training courses through “Moodle”
In his turn, Dr. Ahmad Owais talked in one of the sessions about the e-learning in AAUP, the achievements, the improving methods and the obstacles AAUP has faced, and he focused on some main points of the e-learning in the higher education institutions in Palestine such as encouraging students to interact during the electronic lectures. He asserted on the importance of preparing a meaningful interactive electronic content and indicated that it is important to use the virtual reality technology and the reality to enhance the practical the theoretical courses.