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Arpan Stephen, E-Learning Specialist College of Medicine and Medical Sciences Arabian Gulf University, Bahrain: Crisis always brings out something good

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Arpan Stephen

Amidst corona virus outbreak, good being the move towards the inevitable “futuristic teaching models”.

All educational institutions around the world have closed doors and cancelled classes amid COVID-19 concerns. This has opened doors to virtual classroom that was earlier only limited to distance Learning courses. But this today is the need of the hour. Everyone is compelled to move towards remote teaching and learning models.

This has also led to the implementation of Omni-Choice Learning pathways where students get the option to get lessons anytime and anywhere.

The time that we are currently in has also emphasized the importance of technology In education especially when this is the only thing that aids teachers and students at the moment who are distance apart.

To talk about Arabian Gulf University, a GCC regional university located in the Kingdom of Bahrain, it has proven beneficial catering to students from all GCC countries. Remote classes here don’t mean localities, but countries.

This coronavirus pandemic hasn’t given much time to prepare for online virtual learning, but the management at AGU sensed the need early and started preparation in full swing.

To start a virtual classroom environment (VLE), is easier said than done. It is not just enabling technology and infrastructure, but involves trials, testing, Faculty and student training, coordinating and preparation of Online courses that involve Audio-Video Conferencing.

While many Educational institutions have moved to simple Audio-Video Conferencing solutions to take Live classes. Colleges in Arabian Gulf University, The college of Medicine and Medical Sciences and College of Graduate Studies for their undergraduate and Postgraduate programs have a different approach. While solutions like ZOOM, Webex, Go to Meeting, Hangouts provide audio-video conferencing solution, they do not provide any evidence of classes taken after class which at a later stage could create issues. Another challenge with these solutions is the probable server crash because of a network overload on the cloud servers hosting these solutions since the entire world is using these at the moment.

This is the reason why, AGU after a lot of research and testing, created a State-of-the-art solution. A solution that can share the entire coursework, engage teachers and students in a live audio-video class, auto record the whole class session along with the course notes, video, audio with any whiteboarding or annotations and make it available to students after the class. The System also auto tracks the attendance and generates a course activity report of each participant as evidence. Assignments, evaluations, Resource sharing add to the live class setup.

AGU’s able Management and Efficient dedicated E-learning and IT staff members made this solution possible in a very short span of time.

We have been able to get everyone onboard and already have virtual classes running live successfully. Our written feedback both from faculty and students are exceptionally positive and this endeavor has made AGU reach even further heights in using technology effectively in an educational setup.

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