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Projet Mech-eLearn >Papers>Sharjah_paper2006  

HOW TECHNICAL COLLEGE COURSES BECOME SUCCESSFULL WEB-BASED E-LEARNING MODELS THROUGH THE INTEGRATION OF RESEARCH, TEACHING AND COMMUNITY SERVICE ACTIVITIES

Mohamed Aichouni 1 and Soraya Benchicou 2

1         PhD, Assistant Professor            2    MSc in Mechanical Engineering and PhD Candidate

Paper Presented at  4th International Forum on Engineering Education, Integrating Teaching & Research with Community Service - IFEE2006, 25-27 April 2006, University of Sharjah, Sharjah , United Arab Emirates


INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVES

DEVELOPMENT OF WEB-BASED COURSES TROUGH RESEARCH

E-LEARNING AS A TEACHING APPROACH
COMMUNITY SERVICES THROUGH WEB-BASED COURSES AND DISCUSSION FORUMS CONCLUDING REMARKS AND RECOMMENDATIONS References
  Retour a l`abstract du paper  

1. INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVES

1.1        INTRODUCTION 

One of the major characteristics of modern society is the central role of knowledge in the production processes, to such an extent that the most frequent qualifier now used is that of the knowledge society. We are seeing the emergence of a new economic and productive paradigm in which the most important factor ceases to be the availability of capital, labour, raw materials or energy and becomes the intensive use of knowledge and information. Today’s most advanced economies are based on the greatest availability of knowledge. This centrality makes of knowledge a pillar of the wealth and power of nations.

The 2003 World Declaration on Higher Education states that “the knowledge society implies increasing technological capacities by combining traditional and modern methodologies to stimulate scientific creation and lead to sustainable human development”. It affirms that “Owing to the scope and pace of change, society has become increasingly knowledge-based so that higher learning and research now act as essential components of cultural, socio-economic and environmentally sustainable development of individuals, communities and nations. UNESCO has commited itself to promote the concept of knowledge societies; Three  strategic objectives have been set: (a) to foster digital opportunities and social inclusion enhancing the use of Information and Communication Technologies for capacity-building, empowerment and social participation; (b) to strengthen capacities for scientific research, information sharing and cultural creations, performances and exchanges in knowledge societies; and (c) to enhance learning opportunities through access to diversified contents and delivery systems. The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) should be encouraged as a means of empowering communities and help them contribute to the building of knowledge society. ICTs should contribute to enhancing the quality of teaching and learning, the sharing of knowledge and information. ICTs have the potential to introduce in the educational process a higher degree of flexibility in response to societal needs. Knowledge societies should offer opportunities to use ICTs as innovative and experimental tools in the process of renewing education. The production and dissemination of educational, scientific and cultural materials are regarded to be crucial elements of knowledge societies. Networks of specialists and of virtual interest groups should be developed, as they are key to efficient and effective exchanges and cooperation in knowledge societies.

1.2   MOTIVATIONS AND OBJECTIVES

According to the teachings of our prophete Mohammad, Peace be upon him, as muslim educators it is our strong belief that the producing and disseminating knowledge in the form of educational, scientific and cultural material is among our pure duties.

The first verse of Allah`s revelation to his prophet talks about knowledgeRead! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists), Has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood) Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, Who has taught (the writing) by the pen, Has taught man that which he knew not Al-Alaq, verses 1 to 5. In many other verses through the Quran, Allah encourages muslims to take knowledgeAllah will raise up, to (suitable) ranks (and degrees), those of you who believe and who have been granted Knowledge. And Allah is well-acquainted with all ye do. Al-Mujadalah, verse 11.

Many hadiths (the tradition) of prophet Mohammad, Peace be upon him, teaches muslims to take knowledge from scholras wherever they may be and to contribute in its dissemination through teaching and writing.

قال صلى الله عليه و سلم :" من علم علما فكتمه  ألجمه الله يوم القيامة بلجام من نار" و قال أيضا :" إن الله سبحانه و ملائكته و أهل سمواته و أرضه حتى النملة في جحرها و حتى الحوت في البحر ليصلون على معلم الناس الخير".

Starting from these believes, we a group of educators at Hail College of Technology,  launched a reaserch project with the aim to integrate teaching and cutting-edge research in the area of e-Learning to link technical and engineering students, faculty members and working engineers and managers in a successfully integrated educational environment. To achieve this goal, three major phases have been followed: 

Phase 1 : Development of web-based courses based on academic research on the use of ICT in engineering education and technical training. e-Learning concepts have been searched and analysed. The golden rule presented by Broadbent [1] and Beal [2] which states that any one can build a web site has been adopted to successfully build web-based courses and post them on the net.

Phase 2 : Teaching technical college students in a blended e-Learning environment where both face-to-face and web-based learning approaches are combined together. Quality measures and good practices of the web-based courses have been adopted and implemented to continuously improve the different versions of the courses.

Phase 3 : Using the web-based courses in community service activities associated with technical discussion forums and email contacts. Here again research played an important role in determining best practices to construct knowledge, validate it and share it within a community from academia, industry and business sectors.

The results which will be presented in the next sections show clearly the efficiency of such an approach to promote the concept of knowledge society in Arab coutries through academic teaching, research and community services.

 

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