Dr. Esther Ghanem, Associate Professor of Biology at the Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences (FNAS) at NDU was invited to share institutional and faculty practices on Digital Higher education in the MENA during COVID-19 in the German DAAD Alumni Conference held in Amman on December 4, 2021.
Dr. Ghanem, in close collaboration with Dr. Aad, Chairperson of the Department of Sciences at FNAS, and Dr. Azzi, Assistant Director at the Department of E-Learning – Office of IT, collected data from electronic platforms and designed a small-scale study including a survey on ‘Effective Skill Set Development by the Sciences Students in the COVID era’.
Selected skills, such as effective communication, self-paced learning, teamwork collaboration, virtual lab applications, technology learning, and resilience building were explored.
Feedback was collected from 200 recruited students enrolled in a core Biology course, BIO211, from SP19 until FA21. Students, regardless of their previous exposure to in-person learning, showed a pattern of high satisfaction with online learning, except in practical courses.
The research team believes that the transformation to digital education was very smooth since the University was already well equipped with cutting-edge technology and has spread this culture among the University community even before the prevalence of the COVID pandemic.
Dr. Aad stated, “These earned digital practices require further integration in regular teaching at all levels, especially due to the needs for distant learning for underprivileged/economically restrained communities”.
Further assessment measures from teaching evaluation surveys, average scores, dropout rates, and other biology courses will be conducted.
Overall, science students are immunized with skills that render them competent to face viral and economic storms while being at ease to follow the wave of digital transformation. Virtual open access to scientific Open Educational Resources, international collaborations, and remote career opportunities are just at a click away.