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The American University of Beirut (AUB) and The RIPE Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC) pledged to continue their e-learning partnership to give undergraduate students the latest skills and knowledge in internet networking technology. This academic collaboration between the AUB and the RIPE NCC is the first of its kind. Over the past year, the two organisations ran a pilot project which incorporated e-learning material developed by the RIPE NCC in the computer networks undergraduate course at the AUB under the guidance of Professor Haidar Safa. This project helped bring high-quality training material, on par with courses given to networking professionals globally, into the AUB classrooms.

Mohammad Abbass, AUB director of IT infrastructure said, “The benefit of the partnership goes far beyond the walls of AUB and the RIPE NCC. It rather aims at supporting internet development, in Lebanon and the region as well as helping the RIPE NCC in reaching troubled countries like Syria and Iraq by hosting technical workshops that serve network/security professionals and academics in those countries.”

From his side, Chafic Chaya, the RIPE NCC Regional Communications Manager said, “The RIPE NCC is enthusiastic about empowering the Lebanese internet and academic communities, which comes within our strategic partnership with AUB. Today, this collaboration with AUB contributes to the standing of our organisation as a trusted player in the e-learning sector.”

Enrolled students were asked to complete online modules consisting of video lectures and in-class assessments offered by the RIPE NCC.  These modules were integrated into the AUB course and were delivered through AUB’s online learning platform.

One of the students stated, “In my opinion, the course was very useful in terms of getting to know how IPv6 works, since it is the newest internet protocols. The small tests were useful since they allowed me to be on track for every chapter.”

Another student said, “It was an interesting online course, I learned new information about IPv6 and the potential of using IPv6 over IPv4. This course discussed a lot of topics in IPv6 such as security, deployment, addressing plans, and transition mechanisms, etc. in a clear and straight-to-the-point way with lots of figures and videos, which helped a lot.”

The successful implementation and the students’ positive feedback encouraged Dr. Safa to announce that he will be re-designing this course to reduce the number of face-to-face sessions and replace them with online content from the RIPE NCC’s course while maintaining the high quality of education.

Rumy Kanis, RIPE NCC training manager commented, “This innovative collaboration has the potential to reach every educational institution and student. By integrating the RIPE NCC’s learning modules into the AUB learning environment, professors can give students the opportunity to advance their learning and development in a way that aligns with their courses.”

This project falls under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between AUB and the RIPE NCC in October 2017 to work together on capacity building and Internet development. The RIPE NCC seeks to continuously strengthen its partnerships with academia by engaging students and academics through a number of strategies; the RIPE Academic Collaboration Initiative (RACI), presenting at universities and Internet governance schools, organising workshops, webinars and hackathons or engaging remotely through projects such as the RIPE NCC Educa.