(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Al-Fanar Media).
Last month, the president of the American University in Cairo sent an email to all instructors announcing the suspension of study on campus and an early spring break as a precaution to support efforts to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. He also announced that study would be resumed online
All professors and instructors only had one week—the spring break—to transform our academic curricula to conform with the requirements of online teaching.
We’re fortunate at the American University in Cairo because we already have technical support for this kind of education. The university provides Blackboard, a “learning management system” or software backbone that guides professors in building courses, connecting with students, and discussing and sharing educational materials. The software is popular in the United States, which makes sense given that AUC prides itself on offering an American-style education. I also have the advantage of having previously given many online training courses. Last year I prepared content for the Digital Media Diploma at the university’s Kamal Adham Center for Television and Digital Journalism.
Nevertheless, the transition was still challenging, given the limited time we had to make the change amid health concerns and fears over the future of the educational process and our lives as a whole.
The Classroom to the Computer: Tips for Teaching Online
Teaching in lecture halls is heavily dependent on the teachers themselves, not surprisingly. In the classroom, the teacher is the main vehicle of knowledge and can motivate students through direct face-to-face contact with them and evaluate their interest by monitoring their facial expressions and emotions during the lecture. On the other hand, in e-learning, guidance and monitoring are the main drivers, with knowledge and science transferred through various media such as video recordings, slides, exercises and applications.