SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 4 August 2021, Wednesday |

UAE universities embrace hybrid learning model

Educational institutions across the world switched to remote learning in the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak as safety measures brought face-to-face lessons to a halt.

As inoculation rates increase and confidence slowly returns, in-person teaching is becoming common once more.

In May, tens of thousands of university students in the UAE took on-site exams with strict Covid-19 regulations in place. But lessons have been learnt regarding the benefits of digital teaching to university life.

According to a growing body of research carried out in the Emirates, the outcomes for students may be better as a result.

Heriot-Watt University Dubai, for example, “will continue to offer blended learning,” according to Prof Ammar Kaka, the provost and vice principal.

He said the campus had always planned to bring in more digital teaching and insisted there were benefits for the students.

“One of the biggest advantages of digital learning materials is the opportunity for asynchronous learning — a student can learn independently, at a time convenient to them,” he said.

“With additional support provided by the instructor and peers, participants can design their learning schedule, to a certain extent, around their own work and play.”

As reported in The National in April, research at Al Ain University found that grade-point averages for students improved after classes went online as a result of the coronavirus.

During a term in the 2019-2020 academic year when classes were face-to-face, 38 per cent of students secured a grade-point average between 3.0 and 4.0, but this rose to 49 per cent in a later term when distance learning was used. The paper did raise concerns that cheating may be easier with online learning, however.

A subsequent study at UAE University, published the International Research Journal of Engineering and Technology, has found similar improvements in performance.