Project Title: Distance Learning During a Pandemic
Main Outcome: To provide university students with practical tips to help them transition into online learning under emergency circumstances.
My main goal with this project was to address SDG goal 4, quality education. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Qatar, all schools and universities had to transition to distance learning very quickly, and that came as a shock to students and faculty as well. Transitioning from traditional face-to-face teaching to using online platforms is very difficult as is, but particularly challenging for engineering courses that include a lot of hands-on laboratory work and group projects. As an engineering education major who started her PhD with online courses, I was able to use my experience to help make this transition easier for the students at Texas A&M at Qatar specifically. Through this project I helped with student support by helping the university organize online tutoring platforms, and I posted daily tips and tricks for students on the Instagram page of the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). These tips included ways to stay motivated and take care of mental health, as well as tips on how to effectively study at home specifically. Since this was very effective, the main university page asked if I could host a virtual Question and Answer session to reach more people. The followers of the main university page also include many high school students who are transitioning into university and are struggling with online learning. You can find out my Q&A sessions of the main page @tamuq and @tamuqctl on Instagram.
The project took place virtually in Qatar. The university I work at transitioned from fully traditional methods to fully online in a matter of days and placed a lot of challenges on the community. SDG goal 4, quality education is very close to my heart, so I took it on me to help make sure that even though transitioning to online was very difficult and that there are a lot of cultural barriers that added to the issue, that the quality of education the students were gaining would not be compromised. Of course this is not a one-person job and mainly the role of the administration to ensure quality education, but I did what I could to be a voice for the students and I focused mainly on addressing student concerns. I became a link between the students and the staff and helped set up initiatives that could ease the distance learning process. The target group was the students at Texas A&M University at Qatar (more than 500 students).
- Project Activities:
- Daily tips and tricks posted on Instagram account of TAMUQ Center for Teaching and Learning
- Virtual Q&A session on the main TAMUQ Instagram account regarding struggles with distance learning
- Regular discussions with students (through social media) about the increased challenges they are facing due to the transition to online methods and providing them with advice on how to proceed
- Regular meetings with staff to address student concerns, particularly in relation to online learning
- Multiple virtual tutoring sessions with students on Zoom to help them with course projects
- Planning virtual events such as “Zoom Café” to keep students motivated during this time of hardship
The primary goal of this project was to focus on SDG 4, Quality Education. For this project, I was helping students and staff gain skill when it comes to distance learning and online education. This relates to target 4.4 “By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills…”. I specifically addressed indicator 4.4.1 with “promotion of youth and adults with information and communications technology skills, by type of skill”.
Given that many of these tips included staying positive and motivated, I also targeting goal 3.4, “promote mental health and well-being”.