From KG to College to Career…..

19thInternational TESOL Arabia Conference & Exhibition 2013
March 14, 2013 
His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, opened the 19th Annual International TESOL Arabia Conference & Exhibition today at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Deira, Dubai.  

The theme of this year’s conference, which runs from March 14–16, is “From KG to College to Career”, focusing on the learning of English language in education at all levels in the region, particularly extending the usual focus on the mainstream educational years to young learners and also to continuing education for adults after formal education is completed. As well as the plenary sessions, the 1,600 conference-goers will be able to choose from almost 200 break-out sessions given by presenters from about 20 different countries in this region and further afield.
TESOL Arabia 2013 features a number of well-known international speakers, including Professor Jack Richards, Carolyn Graham, Ken Wilson, Dr Luke Prodromou, Dr Barbara Sinclair, Professor Dr Kurt Kohn, Dr Linda Price, David Gibson and Professor Pauline Rea-Dickins. With this highly-rated lineup of speakers the TESOL Arabia International Conference continues to be the premier professional educational development event in the region.  
TESOL Arabia is supported by a wide range of sponsors prominent in the educational field: the British Council, and IDP-IELTS are the Platinum Sponsors; the Higher Colleges of Technology in the UAE, and the American Center for Press and Cultural Affairs are Gold Sponsors;  Arab Gulf Education, the University of Wollongong in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates University, International House Dubai,  and AMIDEAST are Silver Sponsors; and CORE Education & Consulting is our Bronze Sponsor. TESOL Arabia is very grateful for their generous support, and their contribution to the professional development of educators in the Arab Gulf region.
There was a special pre-conference course on 13 March: “Mobile Learning for the 21st Century Classroom”.  An additional special certificate course, “Masterclass in ELT”, with prominent international experts, will run during the three days of the main conference.
The TESOL Arabia conference also offers delegates the opportunity to peruse the latest in up-to-date language teaching materials and software in its Exhibition Hall. Teachers interested in gaining employment can meet and interview with prospective employers in the Job Fair.
TESOL Arabia is the region’s foremost teachers’ association. It is a volunteer-run organisation, based in the UAE, providing professional development opportunities for its members, who are mostly educators involved in teaching and using English as a medium of instruction.
The conference this year is co-chaired by Les Kirkham and Sandra Oddy from  Al Ain, UAE.

Presidents of international universities finalize new Strategic Plan to expand open, distance education initiatives worldwide.

ICDE SCOP 2012 sets new record as the largest gathering of members of the International Council for Open and Distance Education
ICDE members commend H.H. Sheikh Mohammad’s Smart Learning initiative for higher education in the UAE
November 27, 2012
Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University (HBMeU) has announced that members of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) have completed drafting a new Strategic Plan (2013-2016) following several in-depth deliberations and Focus Group Discussions during the recently concluded ICDE Standing Conference of Presidents 2012 (ICDE SCOP 2012) at the HBMeU headquarters. While drafting the Strategic Plan, ICDE members also took into account the key points made by H.E. Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, during his speech at the event. Organized under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and President of HBMeU, ICDE SCOP 2012 has witnessed the largest gathering of ICDE members, particularly presidents of open and distance learning universities from around the world, in addition to regional and international ministers, to discuss various challenges and barriers associated with the implementation of ODE in the Arab region and around the world.

During ICDE SCOP 2012, the ICDE members particularly lauded the Mohammad Bin Rashid Initiative for Smart Learning for higher education in the UAE which was recently launched by H.H. Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice- President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. 
The ICDE members have identified five strategic objectives in line with its vision to become the global membership organization for enhancing the quality of open and distance education.  The Council members also agreed to jointly promote greater educational opportunity for all through increased acceptance of a wider range of learning modes; adoption of best practices and the highest standards of educational provision; development and use of new methodologies; provision of opportunities for professional interaction; encouragement and support for networks at the national, regional, global levels and linguistic groups; and promotion of intercultural cooperation and understanding.
Dr. Mansoor Al Awar, Chancellor of HBMeU, said: “ICDE SCOP 2012 provided an opportunity for HBMeU and other leading entities in open and distance education all over the world to share their experiences and best practices in promoting ODE as a tool for social and economic development. The high-level discussions helped generate new ideas and strategies to address various challenges associated with the implementation of ODE, particularly in terms of aligning ODE programs with the specific needs and priorities of various countries around the world. There were several strategic decisions that were made during the event, including the Council’s approval of the new Strategic Plan, which will surely have a significant impact on the future initiatives of ICDE. On the other hand, Dubai’s hosting of ICDE SCOP 2012 also allowed us to showcase the many advances that the emirate has made in the field of e-learning and academic excellence. Moreover, as hosts of the annual conference, we were particularly pleased to have initiated a more in-depth discussion of the challenges and opportunities in ODE in the Arab region.”
Prof. Tian Belawati, President of ICDE and Rector of the Indonesian Open University, said: “ICDE SCOP remains a very important networking platform that gathers prominent personalities from leading universities and academic institutions around the world to discuss many important issues and concerns significant to open and distance learning. I am pleased with the energetic participation of all delegates during the conference, which has been crucial in developing the new strategic initiatives that we have outlined for the next succeeding years. HBMeU has been a truly gracious host and we certainly had a very productive and wonderful experience enjoying Dubai’s hospitality. Moreover, it has been a great opportunity to see first-hand the amazing breakthroughs that Dubai has achieved over the years as a center for academic excellence and higher learning in the Arab world.”
A new global campaign to further promote e-learning, which will start in Dubai, was also launched during the conference by Prof. Tian Belawati. A number of strategic agreements were also signed during ICDE SCOP 2012, including a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between HBMeU and Beirut Arab University (BAU) to work together on various initiatives related to e-learning such as research, publications, scientific conferences, seminars and events.

Presidents of 150 international universities gather at HBMeU for first-ever meeting in Arab world.

International Council for Open and Distance Education Standing Conference of Presidents to discuss challenges, opportunities, strategies
Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and President of Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University (HBMeU), H.H. Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, inaugurated today (Tuesday, November 13, 2012) the International Council for Open and Distance Education Standing Conference of Presidents 2012 (ICDE SCOP 2012), a first-of-its-kind gathering in the Arab region that is being attended by 150 presidents of open and distance learning universities from around the world.

This year’s conference also marks the 74thanniversary of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE). To mark this occasion, Prof. Tian Belawati, President of ICDE and Rector of the Indonesian Open Universityhas announced a global campaign, starting from Dubai, to further promote e-learning. ICDE is a network of 100 educational institutions worldwide working to promote open and distance learning, and provide opportunities for exchange of educational best practices.
The ICDE SCOP 2012 kicked off at the HBMeU headquarters in Dubai Academic City with an opening address by H.E. Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai Police Chief and Chairman of HBMeU’s Board of Governors. The Conference is being held under the theme ‘Open and Distance Education (ODE): Barriers, Opportunities & Strategies Forward’ to discuss major challenges and obstacles regarding the implementation of open and distance learning from both an international and regional perspective. It will also explore opportunities ODE provides in helping countries overcome socio-economical challenges and will provide insights into successful strategies for advocacy of ODE. The meeting places particular focus on the latest trends and developments in ODE, including Open Educational Resources, quality and regulatory framework, among others.
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The opening day featured speeches by Dr. Laurence F. Johnson, Chief Executive Office of the New Media Consortium and Dr. Badr Aboul-Ela, Director of the Commission for Academic Accreditation, Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, U.A.E Vice-President of the Arab Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (ANQAAHE). The first day also featured an extensive discussion on the topic “Does ODE offer a viable alternative to residential education?” moderated by UAE-based media professional Omar Obaid Bin Butti, who highlighted the differences between open and distance learning, and residential learning. Dr. Meg Benke, Acting President, Office of the President, Empire State College, State University of New York, USA, also participated in the session, along with Prof. Mandla Makhanya, Vice Chancellor, University of South Africa, Prof. Anja Oskamp, Rector, Open University Netherlands, and Prof. Tolly Mbwette, Vice Chancellor, Open University of Tanzania.
H.E. Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim noted that ICDE SCOP 2012, the 19th edition of the global event that is being held for the first time in the Arab world, serves as a fitting event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of HBMeU and underline the level of success that the University has achieved. One of the key objectives of ICDE SCOP 2012 is to approve its strategic plan for 2013-2016. The conference also serves as an ideal platform to conduct extensive discussions on the opportunities and challenges related to open and distance learning in the Middle East, and developing effective strategies to deploy the e-learning concept on a global scale.
“As a leading institution in the field of e-learning, HBMeU is committed to promote academic excellence by building effective channels for communication, and exchange of ideas and experiences with different open and distance learning academic institutions worldwide. This 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. Over the last 10 years, HBMeU has been able to complement the vision of UAE’s leaders, to achieve sustainable development and join the global race by adopting innovative learning practices,” he added.  
Prof. Tian Belawati, President of ICDE and Rector of the Indonesian Open University, expressed her pleasure that SCOP 2012 is being held in the Middle East, which is an important step in strengthening the role of open and distance learning as one of the solid foundations of academic excellence in the Arab world and the world in general. Belawati also recognized the efforts of HBMeU in ensuring the success of this first-of-its-kind event in the Arab world, and highlighted the commitment of all stakeholders to implement the recommendations developed during the Conference, which continues to serve as an ideal venue for exchanging experiences in open and distance learning.
The International Council for Open and Distance Education Standing Conference of Presidents 2012 has been a source of recommendations and initiatives that strengthen the channels of communication between major academic institutions specialized in electronic, open and distance learning worldwide. It also facilitates a healthy exchange of information and discussions concerning strategies, while also covering political trends in its continuing pursuit of a solid framework that cultivates a culture of lifelong learning.
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