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The United Nations University (UNU) is the academic arm of the United Nations. It bridges the academic world and the United Nations system. Its goal is to develop sustainable solutions for current and future problems of humankind in all aspects of life. Through a problem-oriented and interdisciplinary approach it aims at teaching, applied research and education on a global scale. UNU was founded in 1973 as an autonomous organ of the United Nations General Assembly. The University comprises headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, and more than a dozen Institutes and Programmes worldwide.

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Universities 2.0: How Should They Look Like?

UNU organizes a pre-conference workshop for the major event “eLearning Africa” to explore how e-learning can transform educational institutions. International higher education stakeholders will be the panellists at the workshop which will take place on 27 May 2009 in Dakar, Senegal.

Official website of eLearning Africa .

An exponentially growing number of students need to be educated, academic staff urgently need to be up-skilled and solutions need to be invented to address the pressing development challenges embodied by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Can universities of the 21st century afford to go on business as usual?

A new generation of universities which acknowledge the need and accept to walk the way of change are called for. "Universities 2.0" could be an answer. They innovate their own structures in order to provide opportunities for learning across disciplines and borders to become nests of innovation to find global solutions to local problems. But in which way do universities need to change and how can this be done?

E-learning can be a powerful innovation agent provided that it is considered strategically in relation to the whole university system: integrating technological, pedagogical, organizational, economical dimensions and their interrelation. How can e-learning transform education institutions into global learning organizations?

A panel of international discussants will look for answers while debating and exploring the different facets of this question. The experts are:

  • Virginie Aimard , United Nations University

    Dr Virginie Aimard is the Head of the Strategic Partnerships, Capacity Development and Science Policy Dialogues section at the United Nations University, Vice Rectorate in Europe. She is a capacity development expert with a special focus on innovative education and e-learning.

  • Sam Siminyu , Makarere University, Uganda

    Samuel Ndeda Siminyu is the Head of the Department Education at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. He also doubles as the Deputy Director in the Institute of Adult and Continuing Education, which hosts Makerere University’s e-learning Unit.

  • Mama Foupouagnigni , Yaoundé I University, Cameroon

    Prof Dr Mama Foupouagnigni is Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Yaoundé I, responsible for the international cooperation service at the University of Yaoundé I and also an initiator and coordinator of the e-learning project.

  • Tony Carr , University of Cape Town, South Africa

    Tony Carr is the Staff Development Co-ordinator at the Centre for Educational Technology at University of Cape Town and one of the founders of the e/merge online conferences on online collaborative learning in Africa.

  • Alice Barlow-Zambodla , SAIDE (South African Institute for Distance Education)

    Alice Barlow-Zambodla is a Senior Education Specialist/ Researcher at the South African Institute of Distance Education (SAIDE) in South Africa and works in the field of Research and Development in Education.

The half-day workshop will be highly interactive and participative for participants to exchange knowledge and lay the foundation for a possible innovation model for the University 2.0. In advance of the workshop, a wiki has been set up that is accessible to the workshop participants but also anybody who is interested in this topic and would like to contribute. A wiki is a website that allows multiple users to create, modify and organize web page content in a collaborative manner.

Meet us at eLearning Africa in Dakar, Senegal 27-29 May 2009 and join the discussion in our wiki http://future-universities.wikispaces.com/ .