Making Online Education Happen.

Human Behavior and Distance Learning: One Lecturer's Journey

Posted by Ajman University on Jun 8, 2020 6:34:25 PM

The almost instantaneous shift from in-person to online classrooms presented extraordinary challenges to teachers and learners everywhere. Alaa Al Amiry, a lecturer in AU's College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, saw it as an opportunity to put her understanding of human behavior to the test. Read her observations below to hear the results. 

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The sudden transformation into distance learning, imposed by the recent COVID19 crisis, has created a huge pressure on academic institutions worldwide to create the right infrastructure for uninterrupted, quality academic services, and to ensure a smooth transmission from traditional classrooms into effective online experience. Nonetheless, the issue of maintaining academic integrity during online assessments and virtual exams has remain a difficult challenge for many.

The moment I announced to my students that I’m utilizing “Respondus,” our “WhatsApp” group was flooded with objections and endless arguments protesting and refusing the idea. Understanding human behavior, I was expecting this; therefore, I embraced it: not only am I locking students’ screens, but also requesting that they open their webcams as a condition to take their final exam!

My tactic was straight forward: at first, do not show students that they have other options. Let them first try their best to accommodate with the new rule, in which most of the times they will. Being assertive to your students is crucial to maintain momentum. However, keep in touch and follow up with their concerns.

Fast forward, by the day of the Final Exam, 95.3% of my students (225 out of 236) had downloaded the proctoring software, took the mock exam, and conducted the Online Final Exam via webcams. The remaining 4.7% had technical, social and financial issues beyond their endurance, thus “Make-up” sessions were conducted to them as per the policy of AU.

The outcome was a reliable set of grades – one that reflects a near-traditional examination performance, and an online assessment control as robust as traditional proctoring, which is the ultimate goal of any reputable academic institution to which academic integrity is a priority.

– Alaa Al Amiry, MBA, MS, BSN

Topics: Ajman University, Online Learning, College of Pharmacy