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

Compassion Makes a Difference: In Person & Online

Posted by Ajman University on May 28, 2020 2:10:00 AM

Dr. Richie Rashmin Bhandare is an Assistant Professor in the College Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He says that compassion has been an essential online teaching tool throughout the COVID-19 crisis. By showing compassion in this unprecedented the situation, AU’s professors are role modeling a key soft skill for students to utilize in their careers and in their communities. 


Meanwhile, Maessarath Adouni Titilokpe, an international student from France, has been the recipient of deep compassion from across campus and timezones. In April, she thought she'd be spending her birthday alone in the hostel since she wasn't able to go to back to France when the coronavirus hit. But, as a surpise, her French family -- and her AU family -- all joined together for a ZOOM celebration. Even Chancellor Karim Seghir joined the call to offer his best wishes! Maessarath was finally able to return to France on May 27 to be reunited with her family. 

Topics: Ajman University, College of Pharmacy, international students

Online is Great, In Person is Best

Posted by Ajman University on Apr 14, 2020 5:52:12 PM

 

A fourth-year student from AU's College of Pharmacy enjoys online learning but says nothing can replace the human interactions she's experienced on campus over the years. Hear her unique perspective in our latest video! 

Topics: Ajman University, Online Learning, College of Pharmacy, Student Experience

Week One: Initial Observations about Online Education

Posted by Ajman University on Mar 23, 2020 2:22:58 PM

Ajman University has now completed a full week of remote education. Thanks to our agile IT team and our nimble faculty, the technology and pedagogy were ready to go on day one! We’ve been seeing outstanding results ever since.

Here are a few statistics from AU’s first week of Making Online Education Happen:

  • The average number of lectures per day since March 15: 387
  • The average number of participants/learners per day since March 15: 18,947
  • The average number of sessions per day with minimum 20 Attendees: 253
  • The average number of sessions per day with minimum 50 Attendees: 32
  • The average number of sessions per day with minimum 100 Attendees: 11

Here’s what two AU professors from the College of Pharmacy had to say about the experience after the first day:

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It was definitely a surprise to me, and a pleasant one! When I logged-in, and started “lecturing” about ethics in healthcare and resolving ethical dilemmas, my students took the concept of interactive class to the next level! Was it because they are used to social media? Are they more comfortable in their own homes? Whatever the reason was, this experience worked really well. Students interacted and responded readily to my questions – some of which I asked just to ensure that they were with me – and they clearly were having fun! While we had to enter into this experience in haste because of the Corona Virus, I can say, with confidence, distance-learning is here to stay.

    – Dr. Nadir Kheir​, Associate Professor & Manager of the Student Success Center

Dr. Samir 1

I delivered 3 lectures to three sections, each was 90-minutes long. The largest group had 42 students. I started by saying that we miss them, and the University without the students is sad. I informed them that I would ask questions from time to time. I stopped during the lecture and chose several names to ask if they were present. At the end, they asked me to review certain slides. Additionally, I told the students to go to Dr. Samir Bloukh on Youtube to find each lecture after I deliver it.     

Dr. Samir Bloukh, Associate Professor

Another AU professor has some helpful tips for teachers everywhere:

Dr Sai 3

Students feel more connected when they are able to see their instructor's face rather than just listening to audio. For online teaching to be successful, the course instructor should be completely aware of the handy online tools available to provide an interactive experience. Group activities and pop quizzes help in keeping students engaged. Make your slides speak for themselves through the addition of more images and video files. It is very important to create a collaborative atmosphere between the students themselves, as well as the instructor and students. This can simultaneously  boost student retention and performance in the course.  

    – Dr. Sai Boddu​m, Associate Professor

In subsequent posts, we’ll be sharing diverse voices and stories from our “cyber campus” as we explore more facets of making online education happen. If you’ve got a story to share about adventures in distance learning, please email n.bercaw@ajman.ac.ae.

Our next story will feature a dentistry professor who is taking online connections to the next level.

Stay tuned!

Topics: Ajman University, Online Learning, College of Pharmacy