Home Tech Facilitates a Return to Learning in Iraq

Tech Facilitates a Return to Learning in Iraq

The violence that came in the wake of the U.S. invasion of Iraq had a double-edged effect on higher education there. Professors fled the country and the students that remained had no one to teach them. Despite pleas to return home, many have elected to remain in exile.

So now the Iraq Scholar Rescue Fund has created the “Iraq Scholars Lecture Series” to unite those expatriate scholars with Iraqi college students via technology.

The Scholar Rescue Fund, run by the Institute of International Education, helps to get endangered scholars, targeted by religious and political extremists, out of the country where they’re living and out of danger. Now they’re helping those same professors to get their knowledge back in.

The lecture series is filmed, professor-by-professor, primarily in Jordan and the U.S. Each lecture is broadcast in the classroom and conducted by graduate and other upper-level students, often those who studied under the lecturing professor. There was initially a hope to provide a full curriculum online that could be downloaded at will, but the Internet situation in Iraq makes that impractical.

Most of the lectures have been created in response to specific requests from a professor, group of students or administrator inside Iraq. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that lectures so far have included electrical engineering, pesticides, neurology, and linguistics. Additional lectures include topics the Rescue Fund thinks will have particular resonance with the students.

“Four lectures recorded last week by a professor in New York, for example, focused on literary topics including the influence of T.S. Eliot on the Iraqi free-verse movement and Shakespeare in Iraq.”

About 500 students so far, from the University of Baghdad, the University of Technology and Al-Mustansiriyah University, have attended the 25 lecturers that have been recorded and broadcast so far. Around 75 more are in the production or planning stages. Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education are planning to allow 20 percent of educational requisites to be satisfied via e-learning.

Iraqi scholars are still being butchered. Today. They’re being killed today. I’m just saying is all.

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