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Continuously adopting and enhancing online learning solutions

A Blackboard event, hosted by LAU, centers on the value of e-learning for pedagogical advancement and innovative curriculum delivery.

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“LAU has continually expanded its provision of online learning capabilities over the years and our e-learning platform is now used by over half the university faculty members,” said Assistant Vice President for IT Camille Abou-Nasr during a presentation of LAU’s robust IT infrastructure to a room full faculty members from various Lebanese universities and e-learning industry professionals.

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LAU and its Information Technology Department hosted a number of faculty and staff members from different Lebanese universities to exchange ideas and experiences related to online learning. Abbas Tarhini, assistant professor of information technology, told those gathered that the use of e-learning tools has helped him engage his students in more exciting activities and eased his assessment workload.

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“IT is the backbone of e-learning, which itself is centered around curriculum development and innovation,” explained e-learning specialist Alan Masson before guiding faculty members through various exercises designed to help them contextualize how to incorporate IT solutions into the delivery of their curricula.

LAU and its Information Technology Department hosted a number of faculty and staff members from different Lebanese universities to exchange ideas and experiences related to online learning. The event was organized by Blackboard, a leader in the provision of online learning management systems (LMS) and provider of the system used by hundreds of LAU faculty and students since 2000.

“The adoption of e-learning techniques is inevitable,” explains Assistant Vice President for IT Camille Abou-Nasr. “LAU has continually expanded its provision of online learning capabilities over the years and our e-learning platform is now used by over half the university faculty members.” The university’s sturdy IT infrastructure coupled with an agile and service-oriented support team will, says Abou-Nasr, play an important role in the implementation of LAU’s strategic plan over the coming years.

Indeed, the university’s three focus areas for the coming years center around knowledge management, innovative and integrated pedagogical delivery, and the expansion of LAU’s reach beyond Lebanon through the internationalization of its expertise and services. Success in each of these areas will require a robust and reliable infrastructure, one of six characteristics identified by Blackboard as necessary for successful technology adoption at universities.

The other five include leadership from the top and institutional commitment and investment, which Abou-Nasr confirms is prevalent at LAU. “We are committed to supporting pedagogical advancement and innovative curriculum delivery.”

Abbas Tarhini, assistant professor of information technology, concurs and says that the use of e-learning tools has helped him engage his students in more exciting activities and eased his assessment workload. “Every time I log in to the system I discover a new tool and gain ideas about how to change my curriculum delivery,” said the professor in a brief presentation at the event.

“IT is the backbone of e-learning, which itself is centered around curriculum development and innovation,” added Head of International Customer Success at Blackboard Alan Masson. “E-learning platforms enable educators and students to capitalize on real estate and time,” continued Masson, introducing the concept of the flipped classroom to those in attendance who were new to e-learning. The flipped classroom approach sees students watching instructive videos online before face time with instructors in class, during which more productive and analytical discussions can be held.

Masson was for many years a researcher at Ulster University and focused on the development and delivery of e-learning and support services. LAU recently hosted a two-day workshop on the development of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) organized by its affiliate the Center for Lebanese Studies. The workshop engaged academics and educators from the U.K. and Lebanon in constructive discussions toward the development of Arabic-language MOOCS for professional development, and was further testament to LAU’s ongoing commitment to innovation in education.

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