Like all around the world, An Najah National University in Palestine had to close due to the Corona virus (COVID-19) crisis. The university’s risks management committee discussed the consequences of such a closure for the students and decided to take the challenge of continuing the learning process against all odds.
The eLearning center committed itself to this mission, and developed an emergency plan with different scenarios. It created a task force team to work on achieving this effectively, while addressing all expected challenges and opportunities. One week was dedicated to planning and preparation, and then the university leadership announced the starting date of online learning. Infrastructure, human capacities, learners’ readiness, University rules and regulations’ flexibility, quality and accessibility were the main factors to consider while planning. On the first day of online learning, more than 80% of the students joined; which slowed down the system, breaking down for a few moments. This challenge was expected and dealt with quickly, by updating the servers, and increasing their capacity.
The eLearning center was established in 2012 with the mission to build human capacity in technology, pedagogy and assessment, in addition to the development of hundreds of blended courses and recorded lectures. Exclusive online courses were not an option since ANNU adapted convenient education as a system. However, it did not preclude the development of many open courses nor the inclusion in the MOOC’s community though the publication of 50 Open courses, two MOOCs and 10000 recorded lectures. Besides, ANNU was part of the OpenMed project that enabled the team to develop and share open resources under the umbrella of UNIMED.
Although Moodle was the official Learning management system for online learning, many other tools are used such as ZOOM, Big Blue Button, Facebook closed pages, and WhatsApp. Faculty members are given the choice to meet their students through the tool of their choice. Weekly reports are completed and daily technical support is offered to students and staff, while training workshop are conducted according to teachers’ needs.
Technology gave us the power to continue teaching and learning online. The university will continue to find ways to be able to achieve digital justice for all learners.
Go Online, while staying at home.
Shared by: Saida Affouneh- Director of Elearning Center