The closure of schools due to the Covid-19 virus forced universities to consider the possibility of distance education. DIU viewed this not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity to move into the field of online learning. We studied the various platforms and methods of delivery, until we developed an overall program of study based on the platform Google Classroom. Our Google platform allows students to view videos and slideshows prepared by our professors, as well as carefully selected internet articles and YouTube videos related to the lessons. In order to facilitate more face-to-face contact, we use Google Hangout Meetings so that the entire class can meet visually with the teacher, and with one another, at the same time. A typical Google Classroom lesson has at least three components. - Materials: Materials are for students to read or view. This may be an uploaded YouTube video or a chapter from a textbook. It could also be a video lecture by the teacher. - Assignment: Assignments are a major part of student assessment, and often count for a large percentage of a student’s mark, since there may be weekly assignments to turn in. - Discussion Questions: students are asked to respond to a question – often with their opinion or a logical argument. All students in the class see one another’s answers, and are asked to comment on at least two other students’ postings.
The DIU management team understands that many students, and even teachers, do not at first feel comfortable with e-learning. In order to make them feel more at ease, we offer FREE demonstrations and training sessions for students to drop in any time and participate. DIU also gives its professors extensive training in the online methods, not only in how to use the software, but also to use the most effective teaching methods to benefit from the wide range of options online.
The future of education around the world will be Blended Learning, that is, a combination of in-class learning and online learning. DIU is at the forefront of this trend. We have been adapting all university courses to a blended format for use even after the Covid-19 crisis has passed. We are experimenting with small groups of selected students, insisting on masks and social distancing. One key feature of blended learning is called the ‘flipped classroom.’ Traditional in-class university classes usually comprise an in-class lecture or dispensing of knowledge from teacher to student, followed by student practice with homework assignments out of class. In the new flipped classroom, materials like teacher videos, slideshow presentations, and YouTube videos can transfer information to students outside the classroom, while the classroom is used for discussion, practice, and follow-up. DIU is developing such flipped class activities.
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