A new era rises for online education in the Middle East
Online education for business professionals has never been more accessible as Lebanese American University launches two 100 per cent online master’s degree programmes.
The online Master of Science in Computer Science and the MBA in Global Business Administration will carry the same weight as their on-campus equivalents.
Innovation, expansion, and wider accessibility to quality higher education have long been guiding principles at Lebanese American University (LAU). Now, with the shift to digital pedagogical delivery expedited by the Covid-19 pandemic, the university is launching two online master’s degree programmes, the MBA in Global Business Administration in fall 2021 and the Master of Science in Computer Science in January 2022.
As part of a larger strategic plan to extend LAU’s footprint beyond Lebanon and the region, and export its programmes and expertise, the initiative to deliver online is a significant step toward positioning the university in a higher education sector that is increasingly competitive, globalised, and digitised.
Now, an MBA or MS Computer Science student does not have to ever visit campus to enrol or study— or live the life of a full-time student to reap the benefits of higher education at the university.
Michel E. Mawad, president, LAU, said: “We have been preparing for this paradigm shift to a digital culture and post-digital institutional platform to ensure that we perpetuate LAU’s mission globally and beyond geographical boundaries. Offering online master’s degrees is one of our most strategic decisions toward that goal.”
The University has launched these programmes based on its New York charter and accreditation by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), said Assistant Provost Barbar Akle. “The university received an approval to start ‘distance education’ from NECHE based on a report on our preparations for online education, while we were able to register both degrees as 100 per cent online at the New York State Education Department (NYSED),” he explained.
By virtue of a faculty with an international outlook, its institutional accreditation, and NYSED registration, LAU has been in a strong position to keep pace with technological advancements in the past few years. Well before it had to migrate courses online during Covid-19, the university had established the centre for innovative learning, dedicated to promoting excellence in teaching, learning and assessment through technologies and high-impact pedagogies.
Furthermore, the new online degrees are being implemented in partnership with Wiley, the globally known higher education publisher and consultancy.
Dr Akle, said: “The centre has played a major role in preparing the ground for starting online education and is currently collaborating closely with Wiley Education Services to support our faculty in developing strong online courses that deliver knowledge equivalent to that of the campus courses to an international learner base.”
The online MS in Computer Science, explained professor and coordinator of the online degree Faisal Abu-Khzam, is project- (rather than thesis-) based with more emphasis on course work than on research and does not include purely theoretical classes. Its unique feature is that it is designed to suit students coming from different computer science-related backgrounds. Very little technical background is expected from the students, yet the learning outcomes match those of our most advanced courses,” he added.
Abdul-Nasser Kassar, Associate Professor and coordinator, said: “In addition to its flexibility and customisable elective courses, the MBA in Global Business Administration offers students a better understanding of Eastern and Western business culture. Not only will they be taught by research-driven faculty with global experience but will also be able to interact with students and professionals from different countries and join our global network of alumni spread across the GCC, Europe, and the Americas — an experience that has been beneficial to our LAU graduates.”
Provost George E. Nasr, said: “Online delivery has opened countless possibilities to transcend geographical boundaries and make our programmes, in their unique features, more accessible. Embracing change has always been our driving force, and we will seize every opportunity to evolve and remain in step with the new technological trends in education, regionally and globally.”
Both online programmes are equivalent in standard, curricula, and end qualification as those offered on campus. The degrees issued on completion will be identical to campus degrees with no mention of them being online and graduates will be allowed to march at commencement.
With an increasingly connected, rapidly changing and unpredictable global economy, graduates of the online Global MBA and online MS Computer Science will be able to successfully position themselves at the forefront of business and technology innovation and offer specialist knowledge that employers in the region are specifically looking for.
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Website : www.online.lau.edu.lb