The AGBU Armenian Virtual College (AVC) recently celebrated the third anniversary of its operation through an online global forum and its first virtual graduation ceremony. AVC is the only Armenian online higher education institute. The event summed up the three years of achievements and introduced the upcoming developments and expansions in the program. Current students and valedictorians shared their experience with the audience virtually and in person. During the three years of its operation AVC has served over 2,000 students from 63 countries, spread from Georgia to China, from Sweden to South Africa and from Argentina to Canada.
Dr. Yervant Zorian, AGBU Central Board Member and AVC Founder & President, facilitated the online global forum, and Mr. Armen Ashotyan, the Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia, delivered an invited address. The event was attended by the hundreds of delegates of the AGBU 87th General Assembly, AVC students from around the world, online education specialists, and distinguished guests from local and international organizations.
“The Armenian Virtual College continues to grow in number of students and partner schools, thanks to the reputation it has earned in Armenia and Diaspora,” said Dr. Yervant Zorian, “today, AVC is pleased to announce three new programs: AVC Kids program for young age children; AVC Mobile application to expand its reach through smartphones and tablets; and also an AVC Multimedia Podcast Series for non-students interested in topics of Armenian history and culture” Dr. Zorian added.
In his invited address, the Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotyan stated “The application of high technology in education in Armenia was far from being perfect. We used information technology in public education. However, even then, the Armenian universities were not equipped to put IT possibilities to full use. In this respect, the Armenian Virtual College is the best higher education institution in Armenia. I would like to note that the best solutions and best engineering mind have been used here”. The minister added: “Certainly, there is also the issue of preservation of the Armenian identity. It is hard to overestimate the importance of the online repository created by this college. This tool is much needed by our compatriots in foreign countries. And I am very grateful that the Ministry of Education and Science now has a serious partner that helps us meet the education needs of Diaspora. So good and revolutionary this project is that we are willing to make it even more attractive by working with the Armenian General Benevolent Union toward the state licensing of AVC. Upon the successful conclusion of the licensing process, AVC will become the first virtual institution to be recognized as a higher education institute”.
One of the new programs announced at this event is the creation of AVC Kids program that includes courses of the Armenian language and chess for children. Smbat Lputyan, the founding President of the Chess Academy of Armenia stressed the importance of this new initiative. Chess teachers are scarce in Armenia and the multimedia online program will play an essential role in this respect. The audience viewed several demos of the course.
Dr. Zorian presented the recent advancements in mobile device technology and applications. He stated that the use of mobile devices will increasingly become more popular than personal computers. In an effort to keep up with present-day developments in technology and meet the demands of modern students, the Armenian Virtual College will make its courses also available on mobile devices. Dr. Zorian presented an application that AVC has designed for mobile Apple devices.
Another recent addition by the College is the Multimedia Podcasts Series designed for non-students. The podcasts will allow all those interested to learn key topics in Armenian culture and history without having to enroll as a student. Dr. Zorian demonstrated a set of sample podcasts that run on Apple devices.
In addition to announing the new programs, the event included a virtual graduation ceremony held online. The first graduates of the College were awarded diplomas. The new AVC graduates had chance to join in with their words of appreciation and congratulation both online and live. Armen Kadiyan of Berlin, Germany, Ludmila Sargisyan of Selestat, France, and Gal Tamir, Santiago, Chile, shared their impressions and the impact AVC has had on their lives. Armen and Ludmila learned Armenian at the college and addressed the audience in Armenian. Ludmila, a Russian by origin and married to an Armenian, has learned the language and is now able to fluently communicate with her husband and children in Armenian.
Through online link, the graduates were greeted by Archibishop Vazken Mirzakhanyan, Primate of Georgian-Armenians. He emphasized the important role AVC plays in bridging the Armenian communities, and in preservation of the Armenian identity among Georgian Armenians.
Eliz Partamian of Uruguay, a graduate of the Department of Armenian Language communicated online and stated “During the past three years AVC carried out unprecedented work by bringing the wonderful Armenian language and glorious culture into everyone’s homes”. And, she added “As students we are obliged more than ever to develop the knowledge we received from our instructors and pass it to younger students by encouraging them to follow our path. In these three years apart from enriching our knowledge, the College played a big role in reinforcing patriotism in us. I ask everyone to be loyal to their origin. No matter where we live and work, may the Armenian Nation prosper and we, as Armenians, inform the world about our culture”.
The global forum ended with an impromptu remark by Rupen Keshishian, AGBU Central Board member, who congratulated the College on its achievements and spoke of the pivotal role AVC has played in the curriculum of AGBU Marie Manoogian School in Buenos Aires, Argentine.
About Armenian Virtual College
The AVC project was founded in 2004 by Dr. Yervant Zorian, chairman of AGBU’s Silicon Valley Chapter. He had long noted the need for an educational program that better addresses the current demands of the Armenian nation in the Diaspora and Homeland. Through the use of both synchronous and asynchronous online communications, AVC allows students to learn new material at their own pace, but also to confer face-to-face with their virtual teachers and classmates.With the latest advances in the world of virtual education, AVC’s mission is, in addition, to create a virtual learning community that can foster both the cultural education and social communication otherwise out of the reach of most Armenian students across the globe. See more at: www.avc-agbu.org