The UOC, together with other European universities, will be leading a three-year project that has the support of the Jordanian government and institutions to develop quality standards in e-learning initiatives that will be applied in blended on-site and distance learning courses. The UOC presented the project to the Tempus programme of the European Commission at the request of the Jordanian institutions.
By Joan Antoni Guerrero
The work has finally been selected to be carried out under the leadership of professor Albert Sangrā, for whom the news represents proof that "the university has become an international benchmark in the field of e-learning".
Entitled Enhancing Quality of Technology-Enhanced Learning at Jordanian Universities, the project is part of a European initiative based on good neighbour policy aimed at developing collaboration with countries neighbouring, but not a part of, the EU, such as countries in North Africa and the Near East, explained Professor Sangrā. "What the project is seeking," he explained, "is to provide a framework so that Jordanian institutions are able to develop e-learning standards to use in conjunction with on-site teaching".
The first project meetings will be held in Barcelona from 10 to 12 March, and Sangrā stresses that with the institutional support of Jordan, the project "is guaranteed and will go ahead and be implemented" in three years' time. As well as the UOC, which will be responsible for the general coordination, the other European partners in the initiative are Finland's University of Turku and the Italy's Marconi University, along with the Quality Agency of the Catalan University System and the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA).
As regards the local project partners, the work will be carried out primarily at the Princess Sumaya University for Technology in Jordan, where a large part of the work with regard to the "identification of standards" will be done, although experts from the European coordination team will be making study visits and travel to Jordan to develop blended online and on-site teaching courses in the areas of economics and IT, explained Sangrā.
Recognition of the UOC
Sangrā believes that the start of this project represents "recognition" of the research work conducted at the UOC and shows that "we know what we are doing" in this field. "We conduct research work that is acclaimed," he added, "and that gives us confidence to undertake this project because we do it well and we are the benchmark." He believes that contributing to the development of quality e-learning in other parts of the world does not have to mean creating competition for the future. He feels that "if we want our quality model to thrive, the more people who follow it and who have it as a benchmark, the better".
Sangrā stresses that this is a pioneering project, one of the first to be undertaken in terms of the evolution and development of e-learning in Middle East countries, and places such as the Arab Emirates "are now embarking on investment in online education". Starting this project in Jordan, he added, also means "positioning ourselves through international cooperation in this area and opening up "a UOC loudspeaker" aimed at these countries.
The UOC hosts the kick-off meeting for the EQTeL project
The UOC is to host the kick-off meeting from 10 to 12 March at Barcelona's MediaTIC building for the Enhancing Quality of Technology-Enhanced Learning at Jordanian Universities (EQTeL) project led by professor Albert Sangrā.
Vice-President for Strategic Planning and Research Marta Aymerich, Director of International Development John Zvereff and Director of the eLearn Center Christine Appel are to open the meeting.
The meeting is to be attended by figures such as Secretary General of the Association of Arab Universities Sultan Abu Orabi and a Vice-President of the University of Jordan.