Monday 25, April 2016

Dubai – MENA Herald: Dr. Mansoor Al Awar, Chancellor of Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU) and Chairman of the Governing Board of the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE), shared HBMSU’s pioneering experiences in promoting ‘smart’ learning and innovation-driven higher education across the Arab World during the 4th Annual Ellucian Live Conference – the latest edition of the world’s leading educational technology conference – held recently in Denver, Colorado, USA. The university actively participated in discussions on the rapid changes occurring in the technology landscape and its impact on higher education with more than 8,500 attendees from 1,300 higher education institutions around the world.

Dr. Mansoor participated as the first Arab academician invited to the international conference, where he shared his experiences in smart education and discussed the vision of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to revolutionize higher education in the region with Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as a primary enabler. He noted that, under the leadership of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and HBMSU President, HBMSU is one of the major advocates of this vision.

The Chancellor emphasized that traditional learning paradigms do not fit the rapid evolution of the modern world. He described HBMSU’s unique Lifelong Learning Model, which focuses on developing Continuing, Concentrated, Committed, and Casual Learners – the ‘4Cs’ – as a more effective approach to raising learning standards across the Arab World. He strongly warned that ‘If we don’t innovate, we evaporate,’ underlining the need for more ‘smart’ universities that uphold accessibility, affordability, and flexibility.

Ellucian Live is the most dynamic conference in higher education, motivating the global education community to come up with solutions for revolutionizing the learning experience. The university’s high-profile presence in this year’s edition was thus a source of great national pride for the UAE, which includes education among its top priorities under its comprehensive Vision 2021 development agenda.

In a highly engaging one-on-one conversation during one of Ellucian Live 2016’s general sessions, Ellucian President Jeff Ray commended Dr. Mansoor Al Awar for his outstanding contributions towards advancing learning in the Middle East. Dr. Al Awar pointed out that ‘smart’ schools will drive a learner-centric revolution in higher education across the Middle East that will eradicate illiteracy and bring about comprehensive and lasting social and economic development.

Dr. Mansoor said: “Higher education is currently not playing as much of a role in the Arab World’s development as it should. This can be addressed by moving away from traditional learning methods and towards new models that are more innovative, learner-focused, and responsive to the needs of the times. Innovation is the name of the game, which is why HBMSU is setting the pace by incorporating unique ‘smart’ elements into its Lifelong Learning strategy. The ‘Smart’ concept is already dominating many aspects of our lives, from the way we communicate to how we purchase our needs and wants, so why not exert maximum effort to make learning as ‘smart’ as it can be? HBMSU will continue to partner with major champions of ‘smart’ learning such as Ellucian to accelerate the development of the Middle East’s learning landscape. We believe in shaping a bright future for learning across the region through innovative tools and solutions.”

Conference attendees applauded Dr. Mansoor’s global perspective on competency-based and transformative learning. Many took to social media to express their admiration, tweeting his riveting statement that ‘Our minds are like parachutes, they work best when they are open, and education is the key.’

Aside from taking part in Ellucian Live 2016’s general sessions, Dr. Mansoor also joined two media sessions, one with the international media under the theme ‘Serving Tomorrow’s Student: Putting the Student First,’ and an informal regional forum attended by Ray and Ellucian’s Vice President for EMEA and India, Mathew Boice.

The Chancellor capped off his impressive participation at the conference by saying that ‘Education should have no borders. It is our job as educators to break down the walls.’