Monday, July 20, 2015

Global E-Learning: The State of E-Learning in the Middle East--Part I

 The Middle East has a long heritage of learning and intellectual achievement that has contributed greatly to the knowledge that we now have in many disciplines. The disciplines are not just the scientific disciplines but also include magnificent accomplishments in the literary arts as well as architecture. I have had the privilege of reading and marveling at the great wisdom and beauty of the accomplishments of the people of the Middle East and I have come to realize and believe that the power of education can re-shape the future and provide for the children of this generation and the ones that follow.


In order to to completely understand E-Learning in the Middle East and to make our appeal to leaders there to share their knowledge concerning the state of E-Learning in the Middle East, we have to be clear on which countries we are seeking information from. For our purposes, the following map indicates who we are talking about:


The Heritage: The Islamic Golden Age (750 - 950 AD)

The history of the Middle East is one that has been noted for excellent advances in the pursuit of knowledge and education. This is the heritage of every child living in the Middle East today but it is one that does not often share the world spotlight with the world's thirst for continuing accounts of turmoil and tribalism. In order that hope may shine in the hearts of children in the Middle East, a renewed emphasis, a new education that not only places the spotlight on the magnificent accomplishments in the scientific disciplines and the arts of the Middle East's past but also one in which they can be the new architects of  a future of hope is needed now.

It is not my intention to spend endless pages detailing the great accomplishments of this particular age but I will highlight some of these accomplishments in order to pose a provocative question at the end.


The Islamic Golden Age was a period in Islam's history in which the Middle East experienced a scientific, economic and cultural blossoming that was not only of great benefit to the Middle East but also to the remainder of the known Mediterranean world at the time.

Scientific Method: Ibn Al-Haytham (Alhazen) was noted in history with regards to his approach to experimentation.

Medicine: The physician, Rhazes, was an early supporter of experimental medicine. He introduced the idea of using a control group as a comparison group with the experimental group within an experimental study so that more accurate conclusions and predictions could be made.

Mathematics: Muhammed ibn Musa al-khwarizmi played a significant role in the development of Algebra, Algorithms and Hindu-Arabic numerals.

Astronomy: In about 964 AD, Persian Astronomer, Abd al-Rahma al-Sufi, writing in his Book of Fixed Stars described a "nebulous spot" in the Andromeda constellation which was the first known reference to the Andromeda galaxy.

Education: In education, the world's oldest degree granting university was the University of Al Karaovine founded in 859 AD. We also need to mention the famous Library of Alexandria and the House of Wisdom in Baghdad.

The greatest threat to the Islamic Golden Age came from the Mongol invasion. In 1258 AD, Hulagu Khan destroyed Baghdad and the House of Wisdom. With the destruction of libraries and schools of thought came the "smothering" of  "ijtihad" (independent reasoning) in the 12th century in favour of institutionalized thinking. Science and rationalism were discouraged and Greek thought was condemned. This leads us to an important question about the future of E-Learning and education in general in the Middle East:

 " Is a new Islamic Golden Age possible in the 21st century Middle East? Is E-Learning one potential path to this new horizon?

 Re-Awakening a Glorious Heritage: A New Phoenix Rising?

Credit: www. continuing

We recognize that in regards to E-Learning, there are leaders in the Middle East who are moving forward with great courage and boldness with the hope of providing a quality of life that will lead to a prosperous life for all people in the countries of the Middle East. What is required is a vision for education that will re-awaken a glorious heritage that children will embrace as life and hope for the future instead of a seemingly endless cycle of despair.

Next.... The new visionaries of education in the Middle East and the appeal to share their thoughts as well as thoughts by other identified contributors...

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