Shaikh Nahyan (right) and Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim, chief of Dubai Police, at the inauguration of the International Council for Open and Distance Education in Dubai. Image Credit: Abdel-Krim Kallouche/Gulf News

Dubai: A global campaign to promote e-learning was announced in Dubai on Tuesday during the inauguration of the International Council for Open and Distance Education Standing Conference of Presidents 2012 (ICDE SCOP 2012) at the Hamdan Bin Mohammad e-University (HBMeU) — the first e-learning platform in the UAE.

The conference, held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and President of HBMeU, and Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, was the first of its kind to take place in the Arab World.

Presidents from 150 universities of open and distance education were given the opportunity to discuss challenges, opportunities and strategies of open and distance education.

President of ICDE and rector of the Indonesian Open University, Professor Tian Belawati announced the one-year global campaign to promote e-learning at the ICDE SCOP 2012 stating that: “In this one-year awareness campaign, we would like people to know more about the opportunities that are provided through open and distance online learning. In order to do this, we want to share the best practices so that people will know about the opportunities available in open and distance learning,” she added

The campaign will be communicated through the ICDE website and its network of 100 educational institutions from 50 countries that will also promote e-learning through their own activities and websites.

There has been an increase in the demand for e-learning universities thanks to advancements in technologies, Tian told Gulf News. “In the past 74 years, there has been an increase in e-learning where thousands of universities are now offering online programmes and, according to statistics, there are now 15 million students attending these e-learning facilities. This is mainly due to the fact that advancements of technologies have eliminated the differences between face-to-face educational institutions and distance and open education institutes.”

Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai Police Chief and chairman of the board of governors of HBMeU, said the 19th edition of ICDE SCOP 2012 served as a fitting event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of HBMeU and underlined the level of success that the university has achieved. “The conference will enable us to establish new standards that will further enhance the quality of e-learning and strengthen its role as a pillar for overall development in the Middle East and around the world,” he said.