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Conference held on distance education’s challenges

By JT - Dec 05,2021 - Last updated at Dec 05,2021

Benjamin Schmäling, director of DAAD regional office Amman, speaks as Birgit Klüsener, DAAD director of scholarships, virtually attends a conference on digital education on Saturday (Photo courtesy of DAAD)

AMMAN — The absence of classroom interaction is the main downside of distance education, according to experts, who explained that access to the Internet remains the main challenge to e-learning. 

During a conference on digital education on Saturday, organised by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), academics and researchers have discussed the prospects and challenges of distance education, including the readiness of students, class dropout and teaching methodologies.

The gathering also shed light on the most recent, pandemic-induced developments in digital higher education at universities in Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon.  

According to the DAAD Alumni conference, digital higher education and university cooperation was already existent long before the pandemic started by the “limited extent and scope of cooperation “.

“As all of us experienced, the start of the pandemic lead to a major shift and demonstrated the manifold opportunities that virtual formats offer with regard to flexibility, better access, individual learning pathways, and sustainability,” according to a statement from the event’s organisers.

Among the major challenges listed by participants are the un-availability of the technical infrastructure, the lack of skills and experiences in digital teaching, accreditation, social interaction, and educational equality.

Joining the conference via video call, Birgit Klüsener, DAAD director of scholarships, underlined the Jordanian-German cooperation in education, stressing the organisation’s keenness on facilitating and improving distance education.

Tawfiq Abu Irshaid, chairman of  the society of Jordanians graduated from Germany “German Alumni”, expressed concerns over distance education’s impact on self-development, citing the lack of classroom interaction.

Founder and CEO of Centre for Learning Innovations and Customised Knowledge Solutions (CLICKS), Narimane Hadj-Hamou, said that poor IT infrastructure in some Arab countries and the unprepared instructors are among the main challenges of distance education, in addition to lack of classroom social interaction.

Hadj-Hamou said that prior to the pandemic, many initiatives to embrace online learning have been launched in the Arab region, some of which at the government level.

Among the initiatives launched by governments, the education expert listed the development of formal policies and strategies for integrating ICT in education, the establishment of national centres for online learning and the emergence of online universities.   

 

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