The Tempus project ADIP, which stands in French for “Distance Learning and Pedagogical Innovation”, the Erasmus+ project DIGIHEALTH about digital teaching in the field of health and the ICU-RER project about eHealth innovative skills and tools are capacity building projects whose relevance has been confirmed in today’s crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project ADIP which was closed in 2017 has produced a draft law for the legalisation of distance learning in Lebanon. Now that most of the Lebanese universities have turned into on-line course delivery, an important question has been raised by different stakeholders about the recognition by the educative authorities of this kind of learning, particularly at a time when the implementation of such special education is not regulated by any sort of guidelines at national level. The diversity of the higher education sector and the strong presence of the private sector has allowed a full freedom of making choices about the protocols, platforms and assessment policies adopted. The Directorate General of Higher Education in Lebanon has recently returned to the law drafted by the project ADIP to see how this can inspire and affect the recognition procedure of the unprecedented practice of on-line education.
The two other projects, DIGIHEALTH and ICU-RER, both led by the Linnaeus University of Sweden and very much related to e-learning in the field of health, aim to promote excellence, creative and innovative teaching and learning approaches through advanced ICT solutions, and to improve quality of health education in order to prepare well-qualified graduates in healthcare environment. The projects support universities from Lebanon, Egypt and Syria in adopting and implementing effective distance learning technologies. They also aim at developing the ability of academic staff at health disciplines to employ modern pedagogical and didactical methodologies for innovative ICT teaching and learning settings.
Although originally the projects designed their activities to address, among others, refugees and IDP students, the innovative technologies and tools developed have proved to be very useful in the current response to the COVID-19 crisis. The eHealth concept and related platform was discussed a few weeks ago in a workshop organised in Beirut, just before the national lockdown, and attended by 45 participants from Lebanese and Syrian universities to speed up the implementation of some activities that can be useful in this time of crisis. Innovative digital skills and teaching methodologies in the field of eHealth Sciences and Medical Informatics have been put in practice in the partner universities from Lebanon and Syria providing additional support to their effort to meet the challenges of distance learning forced by the COVID-19 pandemic confinement.