The Lebanese American University (LAU) has earned the approval of the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) to provide accredited online courses and academic programs for upcoming semesters.
According to its website’s statement, NECHE is “recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a reliable authority on the quality of education” for the colleges and universities it accredits in the United States, as well as for its affiliated institutions in Switzerland, Lebanon, Greece, Morocco, Bermuda, and Bulgaria.
The approval earned by LAU was based on a comprehensive evaluation report on the quality of the university’s online education during the pandemic, and it comes to further empower the LAU‘s existing accreditation.
The report covered LAU’s experiences with online and distance learning in addition to details about the acquired expertise, as explained by the Assistant Provost for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor, Rula Diab.
NECHE got to evaluate, through the report, the main angles of the university’s capabilities to provide accredited courses, notably its technical infrastructure, its methods to optimize the learning experiences of the students during challenging times, as well as the existing professional development opportunities.
“The approval indicates that LAU students completing courses via online or hybrid modalities are acquiring knowledge and competencies equivalent to those achieved in similar courses offered in more traditional modalities,” Dr. Diab told The961.
When asked about how the university managed to excel in delivering quality education using online means, which is practically new in Lebanon, Dr. Diab explained that the Centre for Innovative Learning (CIL) team at LAU has been providing one on one consultations, webinars, and interactive workshops.
It has also prepared practical tutorials on many aspects related to online course design and delivery that were available for all faculty members.
When it came down to the mental health of the students, LAU hasn’t either fallen short.
“We tried to alleviate student anxiety and stress brought on by the pandemic and disruptions and to help students focus on their learning and well-being,” Dr. Diab told us.
“For example, we adopted special academic measures such as alternative grading (Pass/No Pass) option,” she noted.
LAU will go back to physical on-campus delivery as soon as it is possible to do so, and, in parallel, will continue to administer some of the successful online elements in certain courses and programs.
“We are fully devoted to academic excellence, student-centeredness, and pedagogical innovation,” the Assistant Provost for Academic Affairs stated.
“This recent achievement is proof that we continue to provide academic excellence in a student centered environment, no matter whether the environment is physical, virtual, or hybrid.”