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PCF5, London, Presentation on LMS and its role in enhancing professional competency of Students in Arab Open University
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PCF5, London, Presentation on LMS and its role in enhancing professional competency of Students in Arab Open University


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  • 1. Role of Integrated Learning Environment towards Enhancing Professional Competency of Women: A Case Study of Arab Open University- Saudi Arabia Branch Dr. Siran Mukerji and Dr. Purnendu Tripathi, Arab Open University-Saudi Arabia.
  • 2. Arab Open University
    • Established in June 2001 with headquarters in Kuwait.
    • Six branches in Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
    • Provides higher education through system of coordinated open learning.
    • Academic partnership with Open University, UK.
    • Offers programs in Business Administration, IT and Computing, and English Language and Literature.
  • 4. AOU-Saudi Arabia
    • AOU-KSA Branch offers three programs through its network of four regional centres at Jeddah, Hail, Medina and Al-Ahsa and the main branch at Riyadh.
    • Had a modest beginning of 3174 (fresh and registered) students in 2002-03, the strength is now 20898 in 2006-07.
    • An average of 40% of total students enrolled is women.
  • 6. Methodology
    • Ten case studies were prepared on women students.
    • Selection on the basis of following criteria:
      • Programs of study;
      • Status of program completion;
      • Nationality and age group;
      • Family status; and
      • Employment sector, service length and annual income.
    • Selected women respondents were either working before joining the program or secured a placement while studying at AOU.
    • Study conducted with detailed questionnaire having four sections and a personal interview:
      • General Information;
      • AOU and ODL Mode;
      • AOU and Professional Development; and
      • AOU and Social Development
  • 7. Case Studies: An Overview
    • Ten Case Studies of working women students focusing on the role of AOU in their empowerment and professional development.
    • Age Group: S ix (21-30 years), Three (31-40 years) and One (less than 20 years)
    • Marital Status : Six were married and four were unmarried.
    • Program of Study : Eight from Business, One each from IT and English Language.
    • Status of Program Completion : Eight students were near completion of their program while two were in the mid-way of studies.
    • Income Group : Five Students (less than US$22,000 per annum) and Five Students (US$ 22,000 to 32,000 per annum).
    • Professional Area : Cosmetic retail, Health Care, Fast food, Call Centre-tourism, Charity and Social Welfare (for autistic children), Readymade fashion garment retailing, Social Research Centre, School Education, International non-governmental organization, and Airline industry.
  • 8. Case 1
    • 21 years old Saudi Arabian, married with no children, motivated and encouraged by her father to join this program and in the mid-stage of Business Program.
    • Reason for pursuing studies:
    • Family openness, their desire to see her as a model woman in the society, self-dependent, able to understand and resolve ones own issues and not to be depending on husband and father.
    • Benefit from ODL:
    • Planning the studies at her own place and pace.
    • The programs are in English, cost-wise affordable and flexible.
    • No mandatory attendance making it more attractive for working women.
    • Benefits of studying at AOU:
    • Improved Computer and English communication skills.
    • Developed professional approach by applying business skills at work.
    • Enjoys better status in the society, feels empowered, more mature and proud of her awareness.
    • Admired in her family, able to look at the society in a different way with a better understanding of the social issues.
    • Better positioned to guide her children in the future and understands the importance of higher studies.
  • 9. Case 2
    • Unmarried Pakistani girl less than 20 years old, teacher by profession, and about to complete Business program. Her father is instrumental in her success.
    • Benefits from ODL:
    • Convenient for planning studies and in interacting with group members and tutors through LMS.
    • Ability to manage so many things simultaneously.
    • Benefits for Professional Life:
    • Developed better awareness about business organizations and corporate life as compared to her colleagues.
    • Better equipped professionally and competent to handle issues of work life.
    • Role model for others in the society and is now encouraging others to enrol in programs that are suited to their professional needs.
    • Ability to make a career in business organizations which she perceived was only a male bastion earlier.
    • AOU and its program have helped to reduce the social distance felt earlier.
  • 10. Case 3
    • Saudi Arabian (31 to 40 years), married with more than two children, near completion of the degree and working as Project Coordinator (UNDP).
    • Benefits from ODL:
    • Facilitated her to realize her dream of getting a university degree.
    • She could remain in touch with the course group thus felt togetherness.
    • Flexible time, online availability of material, online interaction with the tutors through LMS and ability to coordinate course activities.
    • Benefits from AOU:
    • Programs offered help to meet the competitive arena of employment as new job openings and avenues for women employment are emerging.
    • In-depth understanding of business studies and an upgraded knowledge makes her more competent at her work place and successful professionally.
    • Looks at things with open, proactive and different perspective and now gives her views with an academic approach.
    • Gives her a good public image and competitive feeling with better communication skill and a British degree.
    • Role model for others and intends to help others think differently.
    • AOU is effective in reducing the social distance experienced by women earlier in the family and the society as a whole.
  • 11. Case 4
    • Married lady, in early twenties, from Yemen, about to complete English program and working as Product Trainer in Retail Cosmetics Company.
    • Benefits from ODL:
    • Class attendance not mandatory so she could manage work and studies simultaneously.
    • Manage by self-learning and support from tutors and peer group through LMS.
    • Motivated by father to enrol in AOU, an opportunity and a dream come true for both father and daughter.
    • Benefits from AOU:
    • Higher education for expatriate students.
    • Improved communication and public relations skill and increased awareness.
    • Feels privileged, self-dependent and empowered managing both studies and work together.
    • At home she is looked upon by others as their guide for their studies and even otherwise.
    • She would be able to provide better guidance and parentage to her children also due to higher education.
  • 12. Case 5
    • Middle aged highly ambitious unmarried Saudi Arabian, doing BSc IT and working as system administrator in Prince Faisal Bin Fahad Centre for Autism.
    • Sponsorship by employer for studying in AOU.
    • Benefits of ODL:
    • Access to higher education specially IT.
    • Helped in career progression.
    • Manages multitasking well with e-learning, student forum and tutor group forum of LMS.
    • Benefits of AOU:
    • Viable alternative mode for attaining higher education.
    • Helped her to perform better in her life and now she can provide guidance to younger generation.
    • Her family respects her now for what she does and congratulates her when she gets good grades.
    • Her perspectives towards the society have changed!
  • 13. Reasons for Student Dropout
    • Language problem.
    • Difficulty in understanding and studying the courses or program,
    • and not enough sessions for specialized courses.
    • Financial constraint.
    • Lack of family support.
    • Professional constraints.
    • Dissatisfaction due to delay in the declaration of mid-term and final results.
    • Lack of understanding and awareness of the ODL system.
    • Difficulty in managing self studies.
    • Quest for high grades and their inability to reach that level.
    • Over dependence on supplementary notes, summaries, and questions and answers.
    • Difficulty in managing multitasking.
  • 14. Suggestions
    • 1. Measures for Enhancing Student Retention:
    • Provide pre-admission counselling focussing on specific goals and requirements of the students.
    • More comprehensive and practical English placement test.
    • Facilitate in job placement, internship and part time jobs, thus helping to imbibe and improve professional skills.
    • Practical oriented course content.
    • Detailed feedback on the performance.
    • Orientation sessions on ODL system and self-learning.
    • Intensive training on English verbal and written communication.
    • Develop at Branch level / regional level area specific case studies / reference material on organizations of Middle East / Arab world.
  • 15.
    • 2. Measures for Enhancing Necessary Skills for Professional Development:
    • Organize short term programs on business communication, personality and self development, confidence building, CV writing and interview skills.
    • Develop audio-video lecture sessions of senior subject experts.
    • On the field short internships to provide training in different sectors.
    • Increase job options through short term programs on translation and basic health care like first aid, managing small business, entrepreneurship, banking, finance and accounts, etc.
    • More focus on developing end of course projects for applying theories learnt during the semester.
  • 16. The Beginning
    • AOU has been quite effective in reaching the different segments of the society.
    • Providing opportunities for learning and enhancing knowledge.
    • Contributed towards professional development and competency enhancement of women.
    • But it needs to further improve the present system so as to provide a better platform for improving access to life long learning towards professional and social development of women in Saudi Arabia.
  • 17. Thank you…