The Arab Open Academy in Denmark
The Mission of the Arab Open Academy
Open Universities are scientific and cultural enlightening centres that play a major role in the development of society and in reviving its heritage. The mission of the Arab Open Academy in Denmark (AOA) is to develop scientific research, enrich human knowledge and accelerate the comprehensive, social and economic transformations of our society through the academic studies offered and the training of highly specialized personnel in basic and applied fields, who can implement the comprehensive development plans in our country, Iraq and in the Arab World. The studies and programs are oriented towards providing services and consultation to the public and the private sectors and to explore scientifically solutions to our problems. The AOA aims at promoting an open system of higher education that provides opportunities for professional development and lifelong learning. It commits itself to supplying students with quality education, providing higher education for the widest possible spectrum of learners and furnishing society with intellectual leaders who can help promote the cultural, educational, and social aspects of life, uphold independent study and sharpen our students` skills.
The AOA provides its undergraduate and graduate students with a broad base of knowledge which helps them embrace current and emerging technologies, develop independent thinking, search for knowledge and apply the knowledge gained to the ever-changing development in the job market. It fosters an environment of intellectual development and pursuit of research dedicated to the service of the Arab and human societies. It renders services to the community through surveying its needs and responding to them by offering relevant programs in the areas of training, continuing education, consultation, cultural and intellectual activities. The specialized fields of study offered by the Academy aim at providing society with qualified graduates who are competent in working in a globalized economy and who can respond to the practical needs of the workplace.
The graduate programs that the Academy offers are designed to cope with the rapid technological developments taking place in our current century. Such programs also provide the proper environment and resources for the students to develop the critical thinking and creativity required to encounter the continuously changing situations and the problems imposed by a very complex era. The success of a modem graduate program undoubtedly depends on the co-operation among the academic departments and the colleges. The complexity of today's life requires, in many cases, graduate programs of interdisciplinary nature. Successful implementation of such programs requires thorough co-ordination among the Academy colleges and departments. Graduate studies consolidate scientific research and provide opportunities for the implementation of the results obtained. At the same time, graduate studies and academic research lead, inevitably, to the reviewing and the development of the undergraduate curricula. Based on these facts and on the understanding of the importance of offering graduate programs which meet the students` current and future needs, the AOA has completed the preparation of the academic and administrative regulations, frameworks and guidelines necessary to implement and administer both the undergraduate and graduate programs and to incorporate new programs when the need arises.
The Philosophy of Open Learning
The philosophy of open learning revolves around the idea of tutored- independent learning and the “supported open learning” style. Open education or open learning is a flexible system that combines both traditional teaching methodologies and studying through distance learning which encompasses learning from written texts, classroom discussions, tutorials, talks, lectures, TV programs and broadcasts, audio and video cassettes, the students´ won experience, group discussions and project work in a learning environment with a student- tutor ratio of 20:1. Open learning offers the learner flexible learning opportunities that suit his/her own goals of career building- the learner can work in his own time by reading course material, working on course activities and completing assignments that help him consolidate what he has learned. It utilizes multifaceted support resources- attempts to create an environment that is conducive to learning and to integrate learners as proactive partners in the development and making of the institution. The textbooks are accompanied by supplementary study material, study guides, workbooks, audiocassettes, audio CDs, a specimen examination paper and on-line (internet-based) websites especially designed for distant learning. The open learning platform relies heavily on the tutoring process that aims at promoting faculty- student interaction. Students gain support from a tutor, from the student services staff as well as from centralized areas such as the library and the internet. Tutorials are a required component to pass the course- they provide students with a chance to meet their tutors who are experts in the subjects and some other fellow students and they encourage dialogue, exchanging ideas and brainstorming. Tutorial support can be obtained via.
- Correspondence tuition: the tutor marks the course assignments and gives written feedback. This will definitely further the students` knowledge and develop their learning skills.
- Arranging tutorial support for a small group of students which may be face to face, online or by phone depending on the course type and the students` circumstances
- Individual assistance by phone, in writing or by email.
The courses are scheduled: each course operates in accordance with a time table which students receive in the “Course Plan”. The Course Plan includes the plan activities for each week of the course, the deadline for getting the assignment to the tutor and the dates for the exams. It is a good idea that students prepare ahead of their schedule if they plan to go on a holiday rather than try to catch up when they return. If a student falls behind, he should contact his tutor who will help him decide how he could best plan his work to compensate for lost time. The teaching methodologies are learning- and- learner centred. They cater for the learner and foster independent thinking. Some lectures are computer-based: prepared on CD ROMS or DVD. All the printed materials belong to the students who can use them in a way that suits them best. They can treat them as workbooks: write notes, highlight sections, underline key points and make notes and comments on the pages. At the end of each academic year, students are expected to take final written examinations. Students can exploit the continuous online interaction with their instructors. The AOA endeavours to install a satellite telecommunication learning network which links together the university learning centre facilities with other open university centres- to set up a library through which students can access several electronic sources of learning which may be located at numerous internet sites; thus providing nucleus for back-up sources of electronic learning.
Why an Open Academy in Denmark
In Denmark and in other neighbouring Scandinavian and European countries, lives more than a quarter of million Arabs who are high school and college graduates. They are highly motivated and anxious to learn. The majority of them are interested in pursing their undergraduate and graduate studies. There are approximately fifty thousand degree holders in the humanitarian sciences who obtained their degrees from Arab universities before their arrival to Denmark and to other neighbouring countries. Moreover, there are many degree holders who are interested in furthering their education in their fields of study or in corresponding fields. The problem resides in the fact that they cannot join the Danish universities or the universities of the neighbouring countries for the following reasons:
1 The high university tuition in Denmark and in other neighbouring countries.
2 The difficulties they encounter when they study in the language of the host country.
3 The majority of Arabs living here prefer to work rather than join regular courses of study for economic reasons.
To overcome these and other problems, the AOA is established. The courses are taught in Arabic except for the departments that require the use of a foreign language such as the English and the Translation Departments. Students in both the undergraduate and graduate programmes are required to take at least two courses in English. Some courses in the University departments are offered in English. The burden of learning is facilitated since regular attendance is not required and thus the motivation for learning is enhanced. Students can work on their own pace and they can preserve their jobs at the same time.