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Sat 20 Mar 2004 04:00 AM

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Research group predicts UAE e-learning explosion

The UAE’s e-learning market will quadruple in value over the next four years, according to Madar Research Group.

The UAE’s e-learning market will quadruple in value over the next four years, according to Madar Research Group.

Following its recent research into the country’s e-learning market, Dubai-based Madar Research Group claims that e-learning in the UAE will grow from an estimated current market of $14 million to $56 million by the year 2008.

Content, technology and service providers are all expected to expand as they supply e-learning initiatives run by the country’s public and education sectors, as well as the corporate learning programmes of large companies. Many of the companies vying for a share of this growing market will demonstrate their e-learning solutions at the forthcoming 16th Gulf Education and Training Exhibition (GETX), which will take place at Dubai’s International Exhibition Centre from April 20 to 23.

"The UAE academic sector represents a substantial market for e-learning, from secondary to higher education levels," said Anselm Godinho, managing director, IC&E, organisers of GETX. "While most people equate e-learning with a way of accessing courses online, the fact is that e-learning started to make inroads into the academic world with the increasing use of ICT at the classroom level. The merits of eLearning are clearly visible in the corporate world, where the ability to save precious financial resources by not having to fly in expert trainers from distant locations, or inversely send out employees to external training locations, has encouraged many corporations to invest time and resources into employee training via e-learning channels."

Many of the centres of higher education across the UAE now offer some degree of e-learning in their course content. The Learning Management Systems course of the American University of Dubai (AUD) for example contains course modules that can be accessed by students remotely, at the same time providing them with a virtual work experience, while the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management was one of the first hospitality business schools in the region to offer its students e-learning courses to supplement their classroom instruction.

The region’s first entirely virtual university opened its doors in Syria in 2002. The Syrian Virtual University (SVU) was founded by the Syrian Ministry of Higher Education to provide students with university studies they could complete at home in all the professional sectors. SVU will be one of the e-learning providers showcasing its courses at the 16th GETX as it tries to recruit more students from across the Middle East.

In January analysts at IDC claimed that despite a general cooling in the global e-learning market the worldwide corporate sector remains a source of significant opportunity for vendors and investors alike. IDC predicted that the corporate e-learning market alone will grow from US$6.6 billion in 2002 to US$23.7 billion in 2006. "Today's buyers are more pragmatic in terms of both their expectations and use of internet technology for training delivery" said Michael Brennan, manager of IDC's Corporate Learning and Performance research. "In the process of employing e-learning, however, many are becoming more dependent upon it."

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