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Texas A&M at Qatar explores mobile learning

Published Jan 22, 2012

Texas A&M University at Qatar will host the second annual Technology in Higher Education (THE) Conference at the Qatar National Convention Center on 27 – 28 Feb. THE conference, co-chaired by Dr. Hamid Parsaei, associate dean for academic affairs, and Ghalia Farzat, senior software applications developer, encourages use of technology in teaching and learning in higher education institutions and spreads knowledge on best practices and research in academic technology.

Farzat, said, "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. All of the Education City campuses joined together to co-organize THE 2012. 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 analyzing the shifts, challenges, promises and opportunities this creates. Conference organizers explain that mobile computing has opened new potentials for delivering content, promoting student engagement and introducing efficiencies to campus operations. Changes induced by the technology are characterized 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 Texas A&M at Qatar and conference presenter, summarized this saying, "Students today don’t learn the way they used to learn. They are much more visual and tactile."

Khalid Warraich, chief information officer at Texas A&M at Qatar, says 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," said Warraich. "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."

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.

Dr. Julie Little, vice president for teaching, learning and professional development at EDUCAUSE, will serve as the conference’s keynote speaker. EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association that works to advance higher education through information technology.

THE conference is jointly organized by Texas A&M at Qatar, 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 its corporate sponsors include Microsoft Corporation, QITCOM, Symantec and ABM/Apple.