It gives me a great deal of pleasure to write this introductory message which gives you an idea about what FLS is about. I assumed my position as Dean of the Faculty of Language Studies (FLS) on January 16, 2011, after more than two and a half decades of teaching and administration at a number of Jordanian universities, the last of which being the University of Jordan, from which I have obtained a leave to work at AOU. It is indeed an honor and a privilege to be a member of the AOU family: a family of diligent and distinguished professors, scholars, administrators, and students who all are intent upon making a difference in their lives and in the world. “Making a difference” is both our mission and our target.
When FLS was established a little more than a decade ago, it was with the aim of offering an experience in language learning that is not offered in much (if not all) of our part of the world. It was not intended to be “just another faculty.” Additionally, the idea of “open” education in the sphere of languages, in particular, is not only an elegant and advanced idea, but also – one would argue – a necessity. We can no longer afford to continue to teach and learn in traditional, old-fashioned ways. The world we live in, which has changed dramatically in the past two decades, offers so much potential and so many new tools and variables. We have to “open” ourselves to this potential and we have to make use of these tools; and, naturally, adapt to the variables and use them to our advantage. Undeniably, some levels of the traditional face-to-face methods of delivery are still relevant (in some ways, even necessary); but many levels are simply outdated, simply a waste of time. We have to tutor and learn in new ways.
We at FLS are committed to the basic principle of supported open learning, which is strongly-tied to the principle of education for all, which is itself part and parcel of the concept of lifelong learning and of the
educational institution “coming” to where the students are rather than the students “going” to where the institution is. We implement the learning-outcome approach, enabling students to learn according to a carefully-drawn roadmap and assess what students actually learn, rather than “teach” what professors presume the students should be learning and assess what they assume the students have learned. We also champion students’ self- or independent learning, rather than instruction and spoon feeding, which are so prevalent in face-to-face education in our region today. In fact, we at FLS consciously and conscientiously attempt to strike a balance between face-to-face education and on-line learning, thus privileging the blended-learning approach over any one single mode of learning. While all of the above principles and premises could be mere slogans at many other faculties, they are a concrete reality at FLS. And this is something to be truly proud of.
I take this opportunity to congratulate all of the FLS family members (including our dear students), past and present, on their much-valued contributions and successes to date. Clearly, a lot of effort has been exerted, and a lot of progress has been made. In the days ahead we intend to build our approach on three premises: enhancement, expansion and diversification. One of our immediate aims is to further develop the quality of the programs we offer, at both the graduate and postgraduate levels, making them world-class. And we have the will, the means and the capability to do so. Another is to expand and diversify the programs and the pathways we offer (at the level of both new languages and new concentrations), enabling students to choose what is relevant to their needs and the needs of our society. These will include programs and pathways which qualify the students for the marketplace and for the changing societal needs and demands. A third is to enhance communication with students, making their involvement and feedback a priority. A fourth, which is a natural outcome of the former three, is to attract more students. We want FLS to be a hub for learning languages in the region.
Furthermore, we plan to contribute to scientific research, especially at the institutional level, in more ways than we have done so far, in the service of the learning process at FLS, of the needs of the Arab society (which we owe a lot), and of human knowledge more generally. The production and dissemination of knowledge in our sphere is our responsibility.
There is a lot ahead of us in this brave new FLS, in facing a brave new world... But capitalizing on the will and willingness of our faculty and students, and on our collective thinking and talent, we are determined to boldly go where no one has gone before, always exploring new territory and always adding to our successes.