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MENAFN - Gulf Times - 31/01/2012

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(MENAFN - Gulf Times) The challenges and opportunities of mobile learning are to be discussed at the second annual Technology in Higher Education (THE) Conference, being hosted by Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ) at the Qatar National Convention Centre on February 27 and 28.

The conference encourages the use of technology in teaching and learning in higher education institutions and spreads knowledge on best practices and research in academic technology.

It will be co-chaired by TAMUQ associate dean for academic affairs Dr Hamid Parsaei and senior TAMUQ software applications developer Ghalia Farzat.

"This is an opportunity for educators, information technology professionals and students to discuss new ideas for technological and educational advancement in institutions of higher learning in Qatar and the region," Farzat said.

Explaining that all of the Education City campuses are joining together to co-organise the THE conference, she stated it is exciting to see the conference evolve from being an initiative of Texas A&M at Qatar to become a collaborative project between academic institutions in Qatar and industry corporations through their sponsorship.

Titled "Mobile Learning: Challenges and Opportunities", the conference will focus on strategies for advancing mobile learning and analysing the shifts, challenges, promises and opportunities this creates.

"Mobile computing has opened new potentials for delivering content, promoting student engagement and introducing efficiencies to campus operations," Dr Parsaei observed.

Changes induced by the technology are characterised by the proliferation of mobile devices, expectation of available learning resources in any place or time and a nomadic work and study style.

Joseph Williams, lecturer of liberal arts at TAMUQ and conference presenter, pointed out that students today do not learn the way they used to learn; they are much more visual and tactile.

TAMUQ chief information officer Khalid Warraich said that teaching methods have changed along with students learning habits.

"Mobile computing has created new teaching methods that allow educators to convey content differently, create more student engagement and introduce more efficient campus operations," he said.

"Texas A&M at Qatar is on the forefront of the mobile computing trend with its research and practices.

Gathering with faculty members and information technology professionals from around the region at this conference will enable us to look ahead to future developments in this area and learn from others' experiences," Warraich added.

Key topics at the conference will include applying mobile learning across higher education, improving student engagement with mobile learning, providing technology support for mobile computing, switching from textbooks to e-books and using mobile computing in campus research.

The keynote speaker is Dr Julie Little, vice-president for teaching, learning and professional development at Educause, a non-profit association that works to advance higher education through information technology.

The THE conference is jointly organised by TAMUQ, Qatar Foundation, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Northwestern University in Qatar, Georgetown University in Qatar, Weill-Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, University College London Qatar and HEC Paris.

Its partners in education are ExxonMobil and Maersk Oil, and corporate sponsors include Microsoft Corporation, Qitcom, Symantec and ABM/Apple.


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