May 10, 2011 | | 3 Comments Economic and workforce conditions are just right for the expansion of online education in the Middle East, said University of Phoenix – Dubai center director Raj Kapoor. At the 1st QS-Maple conference, held on May 1 and 2 in Dubai, Kapoor gave a presentation persuading educators to increase online education to meet the future needs of Middle Eastern countries. 58,000 new jobs in Dubai For example, Kapoor cited the 342 new work projects requiring $21 billion U.S. dollars in capital investment that will create 58,000 new jobs in Dubai as one reason educators should be motivated to increase online education, therefore gearing students toward professional careers. “With economic imperatives rising and the demand for a more skilled workforce, now is the time for expansion of online higher education courses in the Middle East,” Kapoor said. diploma mills Still, the Middle East and Africa Professional Leaders in Education who were in attendance at the meeting had some concerns about the movement toward online education, including doubts about the quality of education in the virtual world. These doubts have been spread by media coverage that has coined online education to be “diploma mills” that offer extremely cheap qualification for degrees. Such beliefs have the potential to change, however, especially as people like Kapoor present their research on the topic. Kapoor cited the United Arab Emirates University, the largest university in the United Arab Emirates, as one example of successful integration of online education. The United Arab Emirates University has recently increased it’s online education by sending more than 300 educators and administrators to the Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-university annual congress exhibition in January. At the exhibition, administrators learned that online learning adds other aspects of the education process that cannot be found in traditional universities, including a more diverse and more complex learning community of students, as well as more flexibility and accessibility. Online learning also promotee self-reflection and deeper learning than traditional education, according to research studies on the topic. Some prominent education figures are also helping sway the tides of the education community in the Middle East. Distance learning For example, Kapoor referenced Dr. Ayoub Kazim, Executive Director of the Dubai International Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Village, as one strong supporter of online education. In Kapoor’s speech, he quoted Dr. Kazim, who, in 2008 was quoted saying, “Distance learning is in many ways a welcome phenomenon as it holds enormous promise for enriching education.” In his speech, Kapoor’s main example of the success of online education was the United States. He gave statistics about how more than 90 percent of U.S. educational institutions offer some kind of online course work, with an average of 15,000 students participating in online education. Additionally,Â 4 million students in the U.S. will receive their degree through strictly-online education by 2014, an 44 percent increase from 2009. Finally, Kapoor explained the specific benefits of the University of Phoenix: technological learning, intimate classroom study, courses with shorter duration time, increased interactivity, student support throughout the learning experience and educators who teach and have work experience.