Keep Teaching: FLT E-Learning Supervisor Delivers University-Wide Webinar on Blackboard

 

On March 10, 2020, E-Learning Unit Supervisor, Mohsin Khan, delivered a university-wide workshop titled 'Transformation to Full E-Learning'. The workshop, under the supervision of the Deanship of E-Learning's Training Manager, Mohammed Jarallah, was developed to ensure faculty members, whether they are seasoned experts or first-time users, understand the essentials of posting documents, assignments, quizzes, tests, videos, and discussion boards. Perhaps the most important part of the webinar, which was attended by nearly 200 faculty members, was the in-depth review of the specific features and functionality of Blackboard Collaborate and Blackboard Ultra.

 

With the evolving public health situation presented by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), proper precautions were put in place for our teachers at King Khalid University to increase their online teaching presence. "A huge part of your success will be leveraging the technology we have made available to you. Blackboard Collaborate is a synchronous video conferencing tool that you can add files to and share your screen. I recommend that you use the virtual whiteboard to interact," said Mr. Khan. He also looked at both the 'Collaborate: Ultra Experience' and the 'Collaborate: Original Experience'. The main difference between the options – which are both offered – is that 'Ultra' is an entirely web-based interface while 'Original' requires that Java be installed.

 

As course content, course design, and instructor readiness are essential to implementing the best practices of online pedagogy, Mr. Khan also introduced participants to the eight standards of Quality Matters, which will ensure faculty members achieve the university's goals for delivering quality online learning. This set the foundation for the suggested online classroom model, which places focus on not just the platform, but also interactivity.

 

Of noteworthy mention, an adapted version of this webinar was delivered to teachers of the English Language Center on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. Commenting on future webinars, English Department Chairman, Dr. Munassir Alhamami, said, "We plan to hold a similar webinar this Monday. You will learn best practices, available tools, and where to find support for teaching your classes online. I will be a part of that webinar and highly encourage you to attend."

 

The Bachelor of Arts in English program at the Faculty of Languages and Translation is committed to providing a supportive organizational climate and academic environment to ensure that teaching and learning strategies are student-centered. Ensuring our students are provided with an active learning environment remains a high priority through continual teaching staff participation in professional and academic development programs.


Date: 3/12/2020

Source: Faculty of Languages and Translation

  On October 28, 2020, a webinar was organized by the Language Research Center. The presenters were Dr. Rizwana Wahid and Ms. Qudsia Zaini. They spoke on the subject of Quality Parameters for Blackboard Evaluation based on a case study they had conducted.   Wahid and Zaini's paper attempted to explore how teachers justify online learning effectiveness and learner performance quality during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before they began their main presentation, they raised a question regarding the authenticity of Blackboard exams in evaluating students' learning and performance.   They stated the challenges involved in conducting remote online exams as far as fairness and validity are concerned. They explained quality parameters that involve multiple strategies and activities to evaluate students' readiness and progress of learning outcomes.   The study was significant, they said, because of the challenges teachers experience while teaching and giving their students exams online. Their paper's major objectives were the investigation of quality parameters to ensure online exam quality, finding the best ways to assess students during the pandemic, and the exploration of the proper ways to justify students' performance in online distance exams. While highlighting the literature review, they mentioned Frazer, Dickinson & Gronseth, and Chang had discussed and emphasized practical approaches to online teaching.   Wahid and Zaini discussed some solutions previously considered difficult or impossible to implement that teachers now use in accurately assessing their students, whether the students really deserve the grades they get by taking online exams, and how the availability of the Internet affects such exams. In response to the questionnaire, most of the teachers expressed their opinion in favor of traditional face-to-face teaching, they said. There were, however, some mixed opinions as well, some of which were in favor of online assessment. To overcome the difficulties experienced by teachers, they made some recommendations. Implementing strategies to increase test security, using the timer effectively, creating larger test pools, randomizing questions, and using Blackboard's "SafeAssign" option may solve the problems associated with online assessment, they added.   They concluded that one of the most important criterion of quality assurance and academic accreditation is ensuring that teaching/learning strategies and assessment methods are aligned with the intended learning outcomes at the program and course levels. They added that the teachers should evaluate the quality of learning, exams, and assignments for every course while ensuring learning strategies are student-centered.   It was an informative webinar and a great success with the active participation of male and female faculty members from the Bachelor of Arts in English program. Date: 10/29/2020 Source: Mohammad Adil Siddique
  Ms. Sufia Sultana and Ms. Richa Rastogi gave a presentation titled "Social Constructivist Approach: A Panacea for EFL Learners' Stress and Anxiety During the Pandemic" at a webinar arranged by the Language Research Center on October 14, 2020. The presentation was based on their research that explored learners' attitude towards online learning methods.   Sultana and Rastogi introduced the topic by mentioning how COVID-19 severely affected human life in general across the world and how it impacted educational institutions, resulting in a conspicuous shift from face-to-face to distance learning.   The primary objectives of their study, they said, were to explore students' attitudes towards online learning methods, identify teachers' capability for utilizing online platforms, highlight challenges involved in teaching, and recognize students' anxiety and stress levels as a crucial factor in deciding their academic performance and well-being.   Sultana and Rastogi highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on higher education. While reviewing the literature, they mentioned a research study conducted by the World Bank in response to the crisis. According to the study1, they said, "A failure to sustain effective tertiary systems can lead to perilous social upheavals, as youth fall outside the education system, unable to engage in active learning and uncertain about the future of their education and prospects." They also mentioned a study conducted at Arizona State University on how this crisis affected students of low-income groups.   The presenters further focused on the students' perspective during the pandemic. They substantiated the major reasons for stress and anxiety. The reasons, according to their research, are insufficient information about precautionary measures, fear of personal losses with respect to standard of living, lack of support network, claustrophobic confinement at home, and lack of motivation in self-isolation. Sultana and Rastogi's research also revealed that insufficient command of the target language, lack of exposure to electronic exams, and time-consuming schedules result in higher stress and anxiety levels.   They finally made some recommendations, such as increasing teacher training in implementing high-quality courses, creating a diverse learning environment for the students, orientation programs that train the students for self-directed learning, and developing critical thinking skills. They concluded that students' overall performance was very satisfactory despite the stress they experienced. They added students' readiness for self-directed learning and training curricula are the foundations of an integrated learning experience.   It was undoubtedly a very informative webinar as the presenters successfully pinpointed the major academic issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as how to address them. The webinar was a great success with the active participation of both male and female faculty members of the Bachelor of Arts in English program. 1Citation "World Bank. 2020. The COVID-19 Crisis Response: Supporting Tertiary Education for Continuity, Adaptation, and Innovation. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/34571 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO." Date: 10/15/2020 Source: Mohammad Adil Siddique
  First-year Translation MA student, Abeer Al Asmari, delivered a webinar titled: "Literary Translation: A Cynosure of Hopeful Translators, Yet Too Hard to Master" at a regular biweekly event organized by the Language Research Center (LRC) on September 30, 2020.   Abeer, while quoting John Keats, first defined Literary Translation. She said, "It is a genre of literary creativity in which a work written in one language is recreated in another." She emphasized literary creativity by labeling literary translation as a form of creative writing. Abeer moved on to talking about the significance of literary translation. Literary translation, she added, helps us have proper exposure to other cultures and a better understanding of other countries. She argued that a literary translator should be bi-cultural in addition to being bilingual.   She highlighted controversy over literary translation by specifying that there are boundaries between translating and re-writing literary texts that require demarcation in new standards. She thought that it is upsetting to find some translators exceeding the beauty hidden in the original texts. She, therefore, emphasized that the beauty of the original texts must be maintained by the translators so that it is not lost in the translated version. She added some more lucid points by quoting Pinker (1997), Newmark (1988), and Benjamin (1973). She also quoted Daniel Hahn, director of the British Centre for Literary Translation, by calling his statement even more convincing.   Abeer highlighted the challenges involved in this genre by explaining why translators stay away from this. The worst challenge, she added, lies in the phonological level, which includes rhyme, rhythm, meter, assonance, onomatopoeia, alliteration, and consonance. This level, she noted, makes translation an arduous task for the translators. Another challenge involved is in the stylistic level that includes metaphor, puns, and similes. Culture is also another challenge a translator may face, she added. She finally focused on potential solutions by explaining the ways to overcome those challenges.   Abeer concluded by quoting Umberto Eco and said, "Translation is the art of failure."   LRC Director, Dr. Ismail Alrefaai, and Dr. Eyhab Bader Eddin MCIL CL MITI, Abeer's instructor, sincerely thanked Abeer for her effective presentation, which allowed for a better understanding of literary translation through unique insights. They stressed the importance of throwing weight behind MA students who possess burning enthusiasm and pluck up the courage to follow suit. Abeer's fellow students provided her with unflagging support by their attendance. It is hoped that such webinars would create a window of opportunity for other students to stand on the stage and take up the torch lit by Abeer. It was undoubtedly a very informative webinar, garnering the active participation of both male and female faculty members and students alike.   The Master of Arts in Translation program at the Faculty of Languages and Translation is committed to providing student-centered professional development activities that are consistent with program learning outcomes and labor market developments. Date: 10/1/2020 Source: Mohammad Adil Siddique
  On September 21, 2020, E-Learning Unit Supervisor, Mohsin Khan, delivered a webinar titled "Using Bb Random Block for Online Midterm Exam/Quizzes". The webinar, supervised by Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Yahya Asiri, was developed to provide faculty members with tools they can use to reduce academic misconduct in their online exams and quizzes, leading to an effective mechanism used to verify that the work and assignments of students are of their own.   As the overall participation of teaching staff in the assessment and development activities of the Bachelor of Arts in English Program (BAEP) is paramount, Mr. Khan welcomed the participants and thanked them for attending, noting that a recording of the session will be available in the near future. Mr. Khan then introduced the attendees to the concepts of creating Pools and Random Blocks. He then explained that Pools are a collection of questions that function as a sort of test bank. He mentioned that we have the ability to edit or delete each question in a Pool and change the default point values for each assigned question. It is important to remember, he noted, that when instructors select Pool questions for a test, any changes made in the Pool will take effect anywhere the question appears.   Mr. Khan then moved on to Random Blocks, defining them as assessments created from Pools at random so each student’s exam is unique. He then made an important point about Random blocks in that they can be created from one or more Pools of questions. He showed why it is essential that each Pool have a variety of questions with no similarity. It is critical, he explained, that instructors edit the number of questions to display within each Random Block while monitoring the assigned points per question and variety of questions pulled from the Pool.   The Bachelor of Arts in English Program at the Faculty of Languages and Translation is committed to developing and improving the professional skills and capabilities of faculty members in line with modern developments. To view the recording of this session, please (click here). Date: 9/21/2020 Source: FLT Web Team
  Ms. Amatul Hafeez Alvi conducted a workshop on Virtual Teaching of English Courses: Ways to Make it Effective, at a webinar organized by the Language Research Center on September 16, 2020.   Alvi started the session by stating the objectives of the webinar – creating interactivity, reliability in building online learning experiences, forging online connections to build the teacher-learner relation, the application of key principles to create teaching presence and avoidance of "turning off" students to the online paradigm.   First, she emphasized the proper knowledge a teacher should have about instructional technology. She specifically focused on being familiar with devices, the Internet, e-content, related problems associated with the course website and connectivity. She also added the importance of having proper knowledge of how to handle problems with students and troubleshoot them efficiently.   Secondly, Alvi emphasized the teacher's presence. She focused on how a teacher should introduce himself or herself by, for instance, uploading an introductory video or emailing. Doing this, at least, can create an impression that the teacher is around. A teacher should use both synchronous and asynchronous communication methods to connect with the learners, she added. Furthermore, she stressed on being a reflective teacher who is able to evaluate himself or herself after what he or she has done.   Alvi also talked about fostering communication by being a role model, allowing students to know each other, creating a safe learning atmosphere and social opportunities, and emphasizing teamwork. Clarity and simplicity are also essential in designing a course, said Alvi. A teacher must be able to consider different learning styles, she added. For example, there are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners who acquire things differently.   Alvi concluded that a teacher must keep on searching for new ideas, for example, from the Internet and colleagues.   The webinar was very interactive and a great success with the active participation of both male and female faculty members from the Bachelor of Arts in English program.  Date: 9-16-2020 Source: Mohammad Adil Siddique