The Higher Colleges of Technology’s Abu Dhabi Women’s College recently hosted a key regional conference on open-source educational technology, the Sakai Middle East North Africa (MENA) meeting.
The Sakai conference, organized by ADWC and the Netherlands-based Edia Education Technology, is the first MENA regional meeting of the Sakai Project. Sakai is a community of collaborating educators, including leading colleges and universities around the world, who jointly develop and make available innovative learning systems.
The two-day meeting assembled an international group representing collaborating institutions with an interest in open-source teaching and learning systems which can be used in classroom-based instruction as well as in blended or distance learning.
Special guest speakers included Dr. Maggie McVay Lynch, board Chairperson of the Sakai Foundation; Dr. Christopher Mackie of CollaborationSource; and Jaeques Koeman of Edia. Other presenters were Dr. Cathy Cavanaugh of the HCT’s Abu Dhabi/Khalifa City Women’s College; Dr. Madan Dorairaj of New York University; Dr. Paul van Dijk of SURFnet, in the Netherlands; and Josephine Butler of the HCT’s AD/KCWC.
On the conference’s first day, HCT Vice Chancellor Dr. Tayeb Kamali welcomed His Excellency Gerard Michels, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the conference.
On the conference’s second day, Dr. Kamali, in his capacity as the Chief Executive of the HCT’s Center of Excellence in Applied Research and Training, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dr. Maggie Lynch of the Sakai Foundation and another MoU with Edia’s Chief Executive Mr. Koeman.
The MoUs affirm the organizations’ interest in developing the UAE’s information technology expertise, and specifically their support for Sakai’s open-source products. In the spirit of academic inquiry, AD/KCWC have exploring potential uses of Sakai’s collaborative learning environment (CLE) this semester.
Sakai’s CLE is suitable for both on-campus and online learning, and it allows innovation and autonomy to the institutions who adopt it.
ADWC/KCWC Director Dr. Hargis said on the occasion, “It has been a privilege for us to host the first Sakai regional meeting in the Middle East, especially as AD/KCWC are looking forward to participating further in the Sakai community. Our colleges’ programs have always been benchmarked by international standards, and keeping abreast of curricular and technological developments will help us efficiently deliver a quality education to our diverse student population.”