Arab Open University
From Researching Virtual Initiatives in Education
Arab Open University (AOU, in Arabic الجامعة العربية المفتوحة) is a non-profit private Pan-Arab university founded in 2002 in Kuwait, Jordan, and Lebanon. One year later it opened in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Oman. The AOU is affiliated with the UK Open University (UKOU). Agreements with the UKOU cover three major areas: licensing of materials, consultancies, accreditation, and validation.
It was established as a private university for Arabic speaking citizens in these countries. It has the following faculties:
It is highly important to recognize that the open learning platform proposed at the AOU is in part a form of distance education with added enhancements for quality education. But it is much more than that. And unlike education by correspondence, whose main drawback is the lack of lectures and faculty-student interaction, the AOU open learning platform relies heavily on the tutoring process that aims, in turn, at promoting a proactive environment of learning. In addition, course lectures are laid out in a programmed and progressive mode via well-prepared textbooks and supporting notes, besides other supporting forms of delivery media based on audio and video cassettes, CD-ROMs and on-line websites (Internet-based). Intertwined together, these various components aim to offer an environment of supported open learning. Library and computer-based resources will also be deployed throughout AOU's various regional branches that are augmented by a number of Learning Centers (LCs) in the subscribing countries.
Perhaps, the main paradigm upon which the pillars of an open system of education stand lies in its flexibility to accommodate a wide base of Higher Education (HE) seekers, thereby offering open opportunities of education to many qualified applicants.
While there are no preconceived limitations on admission numbers, practical realities may limit numbers according to available logistic and human resources. Nevertheless, constraints of admission are, by far, less stringent than those prevailing in comparable traditional institutions.
For the Arab Open University, students wishing to enroll in the undergraduate program of study must have successfully completed their high school studies that usually culminate in a state-sponsored general secondary school certificate. In addition, the AOU will consider for admission Community College (CC) graduates with the privilege of earning some credits for the successful completion of certain appropriate courses at the CC level. The AOU will also consider students who have successfully completed "relevant" courses at a recognized Institution of Higher Learning.
In principle, for every 20 students, a course-specialized tutor is assigned. The time schedule of the tutorial sessions will be arranged completely prior to the commencement of a term of study. While these sessions make it possible for fruitful interaction between students and tutors, they can also entice students to explore other logistic support resources available at the Learning Centers. In addition, the LCs, in the different Arab countries, will be connected by an integrated satellite network supported by a host of VSATs at the LCs.
Computer and multimedia laboratories are also intended to play an important role in enhancing the learning experience. These laboratories will be deployed at the LCs as integral components of logistic support for the learning process. Plans for utilizing various forms of information technology (IT) resources including the Internet as a medium of course delivery and support, in whole or in part, form integral components of the AOU's strategic planning