Amid unprecedented educational challenges, Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane is confronting modern problems with innovative solutions … even over Zoom.
Rabat — This week, Ifrane’s Al Akhawayn University (AUI) became the first university in Africa accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) for online instruction.
The regional accreditation association evaluates colleges and universities in the Northeastern United States and around the world for quality of instruction and scholarship. The organization provides accreditation for some of the world’s most prestigious universities, including Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The recognition highlights the unique success of Al Akhawayn’s distance learning program, pioneered in March 2020 at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Since last spring, the university has dedicated extensive resources through its innovative Center of Advancement of Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship (ATLAS) to respond to the challenges of online instruction.
The university’s objective — as explained by Dr. Violleta Cavalli-Sforza, who runs the ATLAS center — is to “facilitate the transformation of courses to the new circumstances we face and to create opportunities promoting autonomous education through action, flexibility, and empathy.”
To help students grapple with the difficulties of education in a pandemic, the university also recently pioneered a new peer-to-peer mentoring program. The initiative matches AUI seniors with underclassmen to provide guidance and counseling, often more informally than possible between students and professors.
Al Akhwayns inventive solutions appear to be working. In a recent university-wide study, faculty found that student satisfaction rates with learning efficacy and online teaching remain very high, comparable to pre-pandemic figures.
“Students’ success and development remain at the center of Al Akhawayn’s priorities,” explained Dr. Kevin Smith, the university’s associate vice-president of Academic Affairs. “We continually make an effort to guarantee Gen-Z an experience optimized to support them in seizing key roles in the development of their country.”