The Role of ICT in Managing Educational Change in the Arab Gulf

By Alain Senteni.

Published by The Organization Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In an ongoing effort to lay the foundation for a new post-oil era, the Arab Gulf states face the challenge of securing economic and social transformations while preserving their cultural identity and keeping the control of their own resources. A cornerstone of the development of the region depends on education and capacity building. In the Arab world alone, some 80 million young people - out of a total population of 300 million - are seeking jobs. The urgency for accelerated educational development raises quantitative, structural and qualitative challenges at individual, cultural and organizational levels. These challenges cannot be met through the traditional forms of learning and process development. In the quest for high-quality, wide-access, reasonable-cost education, information and communication technologies (ICTs) have a major role to play as the mediating artifacts of emerging networked educational systems supporting Open Distance Learning (ODL), Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) and other emerging kinds of blended learning. As for any social organization, the design of complex distributed learning systems requires some considerations on their conceptual structures and architecture, whose challenge is to combine pluralism, diversity, and global consistency. These dimensions are most often regarded as difficult to conciliate and conflicting, rather than as the guarantee of a rich texture avoiding ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions. The ultimate challenge is to open and sustain a creative space where learning, innovation and work can be integrated. The transition towards ICT-based educational process development calls for research on new specific forms of learning and epistemological issues regarding how learning occurs and how knowledge emerges, beyond the borders of traditional systems of education. Although today ICTs are more and more available to allow the deployment of large scale ODL systems, their effectiveness and efficiency is often blurred by a lack of understanding of their intrinsic openness, and operational semantics. The first purpose of this paper is to draw the attention of the stakeholders on the need to use ICTs as an enabler of scalable and flexible education systems. The paper proposes then some elements for understanding ICTs’ operational semantics allowing to harness their potential and take full advantage of their capacity to act as change agents for the educational systems of the Arab world.

Keywords: Educational Change Management, Technology-enhanced Learning, Open Learning Systems Semantics

International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 10, Issue 11, pp.15-30. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.001MB).

Prof. Alain Senteni

Dean, School of e-Education, Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Prof Alain Senteni is currently Dean of the School of e-Education at the newly established Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University, in Dubai (UAE). From 2001 to 2008, he has been the first appointed Director of the Virtual Centre for Innovative Learning Technologies (VCILT) and the Chairman of the Lifelong Learning Cluster (LLC) of the University of Mauritius. Alain Senteni received an Engineering Degree, a Ph.D. and an H.D.R. (Enabling to Conduct Research) in Computer Science from the National Polytechnics Institute (INPT) in Toulouse (France). His interests in technology-enhanced education date back to the 1970s, with the Logo community in Montreal (Qc. Canada). He was then appointed as a professor of educational technologies at the Faculty of Education of the University of Montreal from 1989 to 1996. His current work and research interests regard the integration of ICTs in educational systems of developing countries, with an emphasis on intervention strategies, capacity building and ICT-based development. Currently, Prof Senteni chairs the Education Commission of the World Information Technology Forum (WITFOR) whose specific objectives are to find ways of utilising ICT for accelerated development, paying special attention to the needs of developing countries and assisting them in accelerating development through the application of ICT. WITFOR was held succesfully in Lithuania (2003), Botswana (2005), Ethiopia (2007), and Vietnam (2009).

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