Towards a strategy of Continuing Education and OER: Egypt Strategy Forum
On the 30th of November 2016, Cairo University hosted the OER National Strategy Forum for Egypt, “Towards a Strategy of Continuing Education and Open Educational Resources“, organised in collaboration with Alexandria University, in the framework of the OpenMed Project.
The forum was organised under the auspices of Prof. Dr. Gaber Nassar – President of Cairo University, with the purpose to gather together educators and managers from higher education institutions in Egypt, to review the opportunities and challenges facing higher education institutions in the South Mediterranean and in Egypt in particular. Discussion was on how to expand the use of Open Educational Resources, and to organize a general framework of strategic plan to raise awareness and facilitate the adoption of OER and OEP in the development of University curricula.
The day started with the welcome speech by the President of Cairo University, Prof. Dr. Gaber Nassar, who underlined that [..] learning is not limited to the childhood or to the classroom but goes beyond that to all life stages and across the place borders. What is clearly evident in the last fifty years is that scientific and technological development led to a noticeable change in the concept of learning, and the collection of knowledge is no longer bordered by time or place. And this confirms the importance of joint international projects, to exchange experiences and knowledge and open up the prospect for continued cooperation to promote the concepts of Open learning and Open Resources based on availability, regardless of the limits of place and time.
Prof. Dr. Elsayed Tag Eldin, recently appointed Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University, presented the activities of the Open Education Center, and how it is part of a national strategy of Open/Distance Education.
National Policies about Open Education has been presented by Prof. Dr. Ismail Gomaa from the Supreme Council of Universities. He underlined that the traditional lecturing strategy with printed materials, made the online programs similar to regular educational programs, also ignoring continued education. Most programs are standardized, and lack the practical component. Concurrently, the country registers a lack of qualified centers for producing educational material (printed or digital), Cairo University and EELU are an exception in the current landscape. Prof. Gomaa highlighted that alternative approaches (e-learning and blended learning) largely improve the current situation, making learning available without boundaries and contributing to solve the lack of direct communication between students and instructors and the academic environment. In this regard, the Supreme Council of Universities has taking an active stand adopting a blended learning strategy which emphasises on learning outcomes.
Prof. Dr. Ragia Aly Taha, the Vice President of the National Authority of Quality Assurance and Accreditation of Education in Egypt, presented the national mechanisms to ensure the Quality of Open Education and Open Educational Resources, followed by a session dedicated to the role of the Ministry of Higher Education and the Supreme Council of Universities to enhance the adoption of Open/distance education, which is fundamental to understand the context in which initiatives take place. The latter speech was given by Prof. Dr. Rami Iskander, Director of National E-learning Center.
The afternoon session focused on the presentation of OpenMed background information, the results achieved so far and the discussion around the OER Regional Agenda for the South-Mediterranean, by Cristina Stefanelli, coordinator of the OpenMed project at UNIMED. Subsequently, The Compendium was video-presented by partners at Coventry University, showcasing the different case studies analysed in Egypt.
Dr. Maha Bali, associate professor of practice at the Center for Learning and Teaching at the American University in Cairo, discussed open scholarship and open pedagogy for the Egyptian academic. She shared with the audience what she has learned from being an intentional open scholar and pedagogue. Within her classroom, she facilitates and teaches open courses (e.g. DigiWriMo), her students learn openly (www.creativitycourse.org) and they use blogs and twitter. “I ask questions, post incomplete thoughts, make myself vulnerable“, Bali said “and build ideas with others. Openness is an attitude, a state of being in the world“.
A last presentation was given by Dr. Zeinab El Maadawi, from the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University, on the use of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in an Emerging Knowledge Society. “The available open educational resources such as MOOCs, developed by leading universities, could be used, adapted and customised according to learners’ needs, culture and context,” El Maadawi explains. “In this case MOOCs can be utilised either as a stand-alone model or be integrated in a blended learning format coupled with traditional in-campus teaching.”
Later in the afternoon, the OpenMed delegation had the opportunity to visit the the Open Education Center of Cairo University, and meet the President, Prof. Dr. Gaber Nassar.