On Sunday 30 March 2014 An-Najah National University hosted the International Conference for Learning and Teaching in the Digital World under the patronage of HE. The Prime Minister Prof. Rami Hamdallah.
Dr. Abdulkareem Daraghemh, Director of the Centre of Excellence in Learning and Teaching at An-Najah (CELT), moderated the opening session, with a recital of verses of the Holy Quran. This was followed by a showing of the film “Glances”, showing the developments in education from around the world.
Dr. Affouneh, Director of the Electronic Learning Centre at An-Najah, and Head of the Conference steering committee, said:
“This Conference is the core work of the newly established e-Learning Centre. As we entered our second year, we are starting to make our way, benefiting from all the modern world experiences, through learning from the best expertise available. By using that world experience, and adding the Palestinians’ experiences, so that we can improve the learning outcomes, developing our graduates’ capacities in Palestine in general, and in our beloved University in particular. In addition, we have been able to feed into and take opportunities to develop new national policies in the field of e-learning”.
Dr. Affouneh went on to say:
“Our Conference today is an educational forum and its desire is that we, our partners and professionals, can shed light on the variables in the digital world, in terms of concept, challenges, future developments, impact on schools and universities, requirements of the market and developing society: through enhancing the concept of e-learning; m-learning (Mobile Learning); open source learning; e-learning ethics; and quality insurance”.
Prof. Natsheh, Acting President of An-Najah added that:
“The University is keen to provide modern education opportunities for students. This is now going in two directions: keeping pace with the scientific and technological developments; and attracting excellent scientific capacities from inside and outside Palestine, dispatching valedictorians and providing the infrastructure and modern technology”.
Dr. Natsheh highlighted that the University had adopted the use of modern technologies in learning, teaching and administrative affairs. Crucial part of achieving the scientific philosophy is the Course Forum, launching the e-Learning project in 2010 and the setting up of the e-Learning Centre in 2012 which served the development of the Moodle as an interface of modern e-learning.
And on the occasion of Land Day Prof, Natsheh said that the University is in the process of developing the first open-source course entitled “Discover Palestine“, which aims at introducing the world to Palestine in terms of history, geography, nation, religion, civilization, suffering and heritage.
Prof. Ali Abu Zuhri, Minister of Education and Higher Education in Palestine, delivered a speech on behalf of Prof. Hamdallah’s, highlighting:
“The information technology and communications revolution “digital age” is characterised by rich technological scenery that is both changeable and evolving. Education is our elementary tool in building up Palestinian society, a society who is capable of conducting a constructive and positive engagement. It is vital in ensuring the national development of Palestine”.
Prof. Abu Zuhri also highlighted that the government is doing its best to develop the communication and information technology fields. Stating that the educational sector is amongst its top priorities and to provide quality education provides a driver for a more competitive market, strengthening the status of the Palestinian nation in the world.
Prof. Abu Zuhri also emphasised the importance of this Conference as an opportunity to exchange experiences and views on the future of quality higher education, the employment of technology and the reduction of the digital gap in Palestine.
In his speech, Dr. Sabri Saidam, Vice President for Information Technology Affairs, stressed the importance of information technology and using it for achieving success, and added that:
“The coming generation will be able to make a leap in the quality of education and therefore the economy. The Palestinian people are not below other nations, and are qualified enough and have the minds to enable them to use the weapon of technology to elevate Palestine to the ranks of other countries in the field of science and technology“.
Dr. Saidam also saluted all the workers in educational institutions and pioneering youths in knowledge and technology arenas. He indicated that we, Palestinians, must unite and work together for the sake of utilising the achievements and opportunities created by individuals working in the field of information technology and digital world.
Mr. Sami Al-Saidi, General Director at the Arab-Islamic Bank, and the key sponsor of the Conference, said that:
“Education is the nations’ future. It is our main weapon in challenging all the difficulties that drives out our reality. We as a Palestinian People are proud of what we possess in terms of capacities and competencies, and we have more to achieve in the field of information technology”.
He further added that:
“We are all proud of An-Najah National University, which provides day after day pioneering innovations in the field of information technology and e-learning. It has always been the forerunner in providing great ideas and initiatives. And Digital Learning is today the password. We, in the Arab-Islamic Bank, have decided to support this Conference, hoping that it sets the stone for a beginning allowing Palestine entering the digital world”.
Prof. Lawrence C. Ragan, Director of the Center for Online Innovation in Learning in the USA, talked about his own experience in the digital world. He talked about the idea of, “The e-Learning Transformation: A Challenge for Our Times”, where he compared face-to-face learning with distance e-learning.
Prof. Ragan addressed the modern means of learning iPads and cell phones, and how we can apply these to our daily lives and institutions. He talked about what the rules are that we should consider when implementing new technology, especially digital technology, the internet, the information revolution, multiple tools and technological functions.
1- The Conference was sponsored by: the Arab-Islamic Bank ( The Diamond Sponsor ); with the support of Nofal for Marketing and Trading Company; Al-Tomizy Company; Al-Nayzak Company; ETS Company; Ministry of Education; Belgium Project; British Cultural Council; MIDDLE EAST BUSINESS; and with wide Arab and International participation.
2- The Conference was held in the Prince Turki Theatre, New Campus.
3- The Opening Session was held with the participation of: Prof. Ali Zeidan Abu Zuhri, Minister of Education and Higher Education and Representative of the Prime Minister Prof. Rami Hamdallah; Dr. Saida Affouneh, Director of the e-Learning Centre and Conference Director; Dr. Sabri Saidam, President Advisor for Information Technology Affairs; Mr. Sami Al-Saidi, General Director at the Arab-Islamic Bank; Prof. Lawrence C. Ragan, Director for the Center for Online Innovation in the USA; and a number of representatives of the Private Sector, businessmen, Palestinian and international researchers, University staff and students, and representatives of the e-learning pioneers in Palestinian universities,
4- (Moodle): Open-Source Learning Platform
5- The Conference discussed the reality of e-learning in Palestine; employing the digital world in improving the quality of learning and teaching; screening the distinct models of global and local practices in e-learning; the ethics of e-learning courses, free Electronic (MOOC); and the relationship between e-learning and sustainable development.
6- The Conference made the following recommendations:
- Education (Learning and Teaching) is the foundation stone and the only guarantee for Palestine to reach its goals and objectives and achieve the social sustainability and economic development and political independence. It is Palestine’s top priority to keep pace with the age and its challenges through the renewal and utilization of new learning strategies.
- Employing the tools of renewable learning, such as e-learning, to serve the education and learning process; using all the available means to employ the latest developments in the field of technology as a tool to enhance the quality of education and keeping up with the constant changes. In order to reach a high level of educational achievement that enables Palestinian society to reach its goals in a way that gets along with the various needs of learners and contributes to providing them with the necessary competencies that support their societal roles and needs.
- Setting up a moral charter for e-learning, according to the regulations and standards that ensure positive results, avoiding the negative aspects and adopting good practices based on the principal of “High Respect of Our Ideals and Ancient Heritage”.
- Establishing a system of quality assurance through the development of accredited standards, agreed upon by the experts in Palestinian universities, and benefitting from the experiences of other countries in learning and teaching with a critical and analytical approach.
7- The participants organised an exhibition where different institutions and supporting companies of the Conference presented their works in the fields of e-learning and areas of interest.
8- Prof. Sami Jaber, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Sa’eda Affouneh, Conference Rapporteur, and members of the Steering Committee distributed certificates of appreciation to all the committees and individuals who participated in the Conference.
9- An-Najah Choir led by Dr. Ghawi Ghawi, Dean of Fine Arts, presented folklore songs on the occasion of Land Day.
10- The Conference comes at a time the World is facing rapid changes, affecting all aspects of life, including education. The institutions of higher education aim at responding to the challenges arising from the recent technological developments in the digital world, and An-Najah has initiated and held this Conference so that it contributes to the advancement of education in Palestinian universities through the discussion of the latest studies, practices and experiences in the field of employing technology in learning and teaching on the local and international levels to empower the e-learning practices.
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