Students Embrace HCT’s Digi Campus Initiative during COVID-19 Pandemic
In its first month of its Digi Campus initiative, which has seen students undertaking online distance learning, the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) has delivered over 1 million teaching hours, through more than 41,000 online, interactive classes.
Dr Abdullatif Al Shamsi, HCT President & CEO, reiterated the importance of HCT’s Digi Campus, leveraging the latest technologies provided by the global learning platform “Blackboard Ultra”, pointing out that student and faculty satisfaction rates with online distance learning reached a commendable 85%.
“These results reflect the high interaction and commitment of our students, as well as their keenness to pursue their studies in a remote, online environment,” he said.
Dr Al Shamsi added that daily follow-ups of student and faculty performance showed their ability to successfully and confidently operate with online distance learning, which will contribute to raising learning outcomes.
He said that due to the urgent need to transition to online classes, HCT had implemented the necessary operating structures and procedures to enable students and faculty to embrace the new online learning environment. The actions taken by HCT have included revisions made to assessment strategies and the calculation of students’ Cumulative GPAs (CGPAs). “This will greatly serve the students’ interests and help them succeed in their academic and professional futures, while maintaining academic rigor and transparency,” Dr Al Shamsi said.
As part of HCT’s online distance learning strategies, the online assessment mechanisms and tools have been tailored to meet student needs, the nature of courses and maximize performance. This included dividing final assessments into several quizzes; offering timed assignments; using audio-video devices to explain answers; and using simulations for applied aspects of learning.
In addition, the procedural revisions included considering the students’ CGPA and academic standing at the end of the fall semester as the reference point in assessing students. Accordingly, students’ CGPAs will not be negatively impacted by their performances in the spring semester. However, students are required to show continued commitment to their courses, by successfully completing their course requirements and assessments, as well as attending all online classes and examinations.
Dr Al Shamsi said that HCT must build on the achievements and positive results made to-date by finding a “hybrid” path that combines on-campus learning and online distance learning. “Online learning can be considered one of the future educational options that supports students and empowers them to develop their skills independently, and continuously, by investing in their technological abilities,” he said.
Dr. Jihad Mohaidat, HCT Deputy President for Education Technology, said HCT’s successful online learning experience reflects the magnitude of its efforts and its proactivity in building a digital learning system. “This overall experience has strengthened HCT’s technological infrastructure, so as to equip students with advanced technological skills, as well as giving HCT faculty the opportunity to earn the prestigious e-Teacher certificates from Blackboard International,” Dr. Mohaidat said.
He added that HCT faculty members have enhanced their online teaching experiences, through the completion of approximately 45,000 professional development training hours. As such, they are now more capable in the use of innovative, online teaching methods.