7,136 undergraduate and advanced Zayed University students turn to their online academic platforms, today, to begin a new phase of the UAE’s education system through “distant learning” for the upcoming, possibly extendable, two-weeks.
The distant learning plan came as a prudent and necessary movement by the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, and the Ministry of Education, to act upon the current circumstances, concerning the rapid spread of COVID-19.
Starting today, and during the upcoming two weeks, the University estimates approximately 2335 classes to be held online, and around 6995 hours of remote learning.
Dr. Behjat Al Yousuf, Vice-President of Zayed University, said, "Due to the precautionary measures from what this virus might cause to , the government is proactively taking action to promote social distancing and ensure the continuity of education across the nation."
“We are fortunate to be in the UAE with a robust ICT system that enables learning to be conducted remotely. Our faculty have been working on the implementation of online learning and are following international best practices that enables student’s engagement, learning and assessment as well as putting measures to monitor and support student success. I want to assure you that we are committed to the continuation of delivering high quality education and your learning is a priority for me and all my colleagues at ZU.”
“Moving into a remote learning environment is indeed disruptive to the norm; it is a unique new chapter of ZU’s journey of higher education. This will require adjustment from both students and faculty. We are continuously encouraging the Zayed University community patient, flexible and provide to proactively provide us with constructive feedback into how the learning could be improved. Students are duly asked to utilize their academic tools to ensure proper education, communication, raise concerns, and expressing their experiences throughout the coming weeks.”
Dr. Michael Wilson, Zayed University Provost, mentioned decisive directions to the faculty members to ensure complete adaptation of online platforms during the upcoming two weeks. "Aside from any alternative means of adapting eLearning faculty members might be comfortable with, Zayed University has positively tested and setup Blackboard and Adobe Connect to support the online teaching," he said.
He further added, "All faculty members must have already been trained and have been provided the suitable devices, tools & software to enable faculty manage their online distance teaching and learning sessions off campus and further supporting them with on the clock ICT support systems." Wilson said.
Sadiq Almulla, Chief Administrative and Finance Officer, said that they will effectively continue to offer individualized support via Adobe Connect online meetings to ZU faculty members. "There is a range of online workshops planned for the next two weeks and beyond covering both synchronous (Adobe Connect) and asynchronous (Blackboard features) strategies," CAFO said.
He further indicated that faculty should be aware that there may be technical and infrastructure challenges as many users log in to the internet, and the system comes under strain. "Teachers must not rely solely on synchronous interaction but have asynchronous course tasks ready as well. The University has prepared many resources, videos, and suggestions to assists faculty in both types of online teaching," he stated.
Meanwhile, to guarantee safety upon students return back to campus by April 5th, the University is currently continuing campus sanitization and have enhanced cleaning and disinfecting measures throughout the University, especially for common areas and frequently touched surfaces. Throughout both campuses, the University has placed multiple signages with information on proper hygiene and how to avoid Virus transmission as recommended by the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention.