أ. مريم حموضة
كلية الهندسة وتكنولوجيا المعلومات
قسم الهندسة الكيميائية
I really am very enthusiastic and excited to write this letter to share with you my personal experience in using e-learning tool in one of my favorite courses that I currently teach at the department of chemical engineering at An-Najah National University. This course entitled “Introduction to professional engineering concepts (10626301)”. The number of students registered in this course was 30 students.
This course is designed to introduce students to many topics related to professionalism and ethics in engineering practice. First of all, students are exposed to the basic knowledge needed to make informed ethical decisions when confronted with problems in the working environment. They work on practice case studies with ethical issue and give reliable decisions, considering the relevant international code of ethics. Second, they improve their skills in both written and oral communications with regard to ethical and professional issues in engineering. Third, students are provided with team skills through working in teams on assignments and in-class assignments. Finally, they are introduced to contemporary issues in engineering, in addition to dealing with useful platforms to share professional experience.
The e-learning approach became inevitable in 2020. COVID-19 crisis forced global shutdown of several activities, including educational activities, and this has resulted in tremendous crisis-response migration of universities with e-learning serving as the educational platform. However, this sudden replacement of face-to-face classrooms into digital transformation, was challenging for both instructors and students.
Personally, I took the responsibility from day one of approving the e-learning approach our university and established a group for students on Facebook, as a preliminary step, to stay connected with them and encourage them toward the new approach. Here is the link for the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/2824369027657873.
The first post was a video for myself to welcome students, motivate and encourage them to stay optimistic, positive, and reacclimatize with this transformation. You can find the video in this link https://youtu.be/uPKWLOVoIl8. Then we started the journey of e-learning where I prioritized the mental health of students through the hardship we have. The magnificent Moodle became the most important platform to communicate with students and update the course material professionally and in a way to help them to smoothly and efficiently track the course. I decided to learn about the different options provided on Moodle and develop my course activities and options, accordingly. I established a forum for discussing case studies about ethics. Afterwards, I took the advantage of having Turnitin tool and encouraged students to do the originality check on their writing. Also, I created a question bank with more than 50 questions and adapted quickly with all the corresponding skills needed for this purpose. Zoom was also used as a very useful tool that can mimic the real classrooms and can be used for the synchronized discussions. In addition, emails were also thoroughly used as part of the course criteria to teach students the etiquette of writing an email and to give instant feedback on certain assigned tasks. Furthermore, students were assigned to create LinkedIn profiles which was very eye-opening and engaging for their professional future career.
In this course also, I wanted to motivate students through the best proposal competition under writing proposal topic. The main aim of this competition was to increase the awareness about teamwork, develop the writing and the interpersonal skills and learn about the course discipline and meeting the deadlines. Students dazzled me with their creativity in preparing a short video presenting their work. Here is the link for one of the students’ videos prepared during the course https://cutt.ly/EhhJO5O. Certificates were sent for the team members of the top two videos. I tried to generate the certificates through Moodle, but then I preferred another template for students’ certificates (attached a sample for these certificates). Worth mentioning that by the end of the course, I asked to answer some feedback questions to improve the quality of the course.
Last but not least, I really am very proud of the progress I made through learning about the different new tools and skills needed to construct an online course in the very limited timeframe we had. However, the most important thing to me now is to keen new knowledge and skills in developing this course specifically and transfer this experience gradually to all courses I teach. Therefore, I participated in the intensive course organized by the e-learning center in June 2020 to improve my skills in Moodle and e-learning teaching skills. Moreover, I continued this semester in developing this course by adding new blogs and using new tools like survey, chat and feedback, to make e-learning experience more beneficial and joyful for students. This success would have not been possible without the unwavering support from the e-learning team at our university who helped and still helps us to achieve the best of our capabilities.