“Minds work as a parachute. They are not functional until they are open.” – Dr. Mansoor Al-Awar, Dubai, UAE

For two days this past February, Dubai hosted the very first Microsoft in Education Global Forum in the Middle East and Africa region. The forum gathered education stakeholders to discuss education transformation as it relates to the workforce, and as an enabler for competitiveness and economic growth. I was especially excited to speak with innovators who are using technologies to drive rich learning experiences and to join in highlighting the achievements of teachers and schools from around the Middle East and Africa, as well as India, who are successfully using technology to engage their students and prepare them for the future.

One such educator is Dr. Mansoor Al-Awar, Chancellor of Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU), the first of its kind in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Established in 2009, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University has brought about a paradigm shift in higher education in the UAE by designing learner-centric solutions. The school strives to offer a fresh learning experience by using innovative technologies in the form of mobile learning, discussion blogs, online classrooms, educational gaming and social networking — all suited to meet the needs of working professionals and high-school graduates alike.

Al-Awar the Chairman of the Governing Board of the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education, and the first Arab to accede to the Institute’s board membership since its establishment. He was selected for his pivotal efforts in disseminating the culture of e-learning and adapting contemporary advances to meet the needs of the Arab world, as well as for his role at Hamdan bin Mohammed Smart University.

Al-Awar has been leading the charge in innovative education for decades, winning numerous accolades for his achievements and dedication. His view of education is forward-thinking and thought-provoking. “Schooling is essential, school is not,” he says. “Learning is essential, universities are not. As technology emerges in education, this concept is natural.”

Here, Dr. Al-Awar shares his philosophy on ICT in education, his concept of “learning to learn,” and why online learning is an essential component of education in the 21st century. Enjoy!

About Dr. Mansoor Al-Awar


Dr. Mansoor Al-Awar is currently Chancellor of Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU) as well as Honorary Visiting Fellow in Organization and Information Management at the University of Bradford, UK; Adjunct Professor at the University of Salford, UK; member of the International Academy for Quality (IAQ); and is a Certified International Assessor for the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Excellence Awards. He was awarded a Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the University of Wales, UK, in 1994.

Dr. Al-Awar has published several books (in Arabic) on management and quality, including The Road to “My Vision,” Practical Steps for Achieving “My Vision” in Education, Leadership and Excellence; and the “Facilitating Knowledge” series of publications Institutional Loyalty and Effective PerformanceGood Governance between Fairness and TransparencyManaging Knowledge and Performance Effectiveness; and Innovation Management. Dr. Mansoor Al-Awar is also a lecturer and expert in the fields of education and e-learning in particular, in addition to areas of excellence and quality. He has participated in numerous regional and international conferences and seminars on education, quality and excellence.

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