The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused universities worldwide to close down their campuses and switch to distance learning. SZABIST has also experienced an unprecedented massive “migration” from traditional in‐class face‐to‐face education to online education. Although the response rate to implement online classes was relatively slow, SZABIST nonetheless managed to make the transition as seamless and as convenient as possible for both, students as well as faculty.
Initially, when classes shifted online, there were some inherent teething problems. Teachers had difficulties in understanding how to navigate through the video calling apps and students displayed a non-serious attitude. However, these problems were sorted out once all students received official email IDs and all classes were being conducted through Google Meets. Here, the efforts of the IT department are indeed commendable as they set up a separate ZAB E-Learning Portal through which class links could easily be accessed by the students.
In a short time period, faculty members had to start teaching in front of a computer screen. This was something they had never done before so one must realize how daunting a task this might have been for them. It indeed is not easy to alter the projects, assignments, and course material while adjusting to totally virtual methods of teaching within no time at all, that too without prior training or notice. The struggle of the instructors was indeed real, some used whiteboards, some taught without fans on to maintain the voice quality, and some prepared small video clips all in the efforts of facilitating students. This serves to show that teachers are resilient and have risen above all odds.
SZABIST is probably the only university that has managed to keep the online semester as close and as similar to a regular on-campus one. While this is a great achievement on the institutes’ behalf, it hasn’t worked out entirely in the favor of the students.
Even though the intention was to provide a sense of normalcy in these trying times and continue the process of learning, students have felt overwhelmed with the amount of workload and the expectations that teachers have from them. SZABIST is very capable to run an online semester, however, the structure of classes needs to be changed a bit to make the layout conducive to E-learning.
It is a massive, disruptive shift to move all the existing courses online in a matter of days and SZABIST successfully managed to do so. This speaks volumes about the institute that it is highly adaptive to change as it was able to convert adversity into an opportunity. The Program Managers, Teachers, as well as IT department all adjusted well to the distance learning approach. For this SZABIST indeed deserves all praises!
With just some minor improvements in the course outline and structure, SZABIST will be able to fully adjust to the ‘New Normal’ way of teaching and will undoubtedly be able to offer one of the best online semesters in the country.