Ahmad Hassan: Equitable learning experiences between onsite and online students is a must.

Ahmad Hassan has been teaching courses in Islamic studies since 2013 in topics related to Islamic ethics, Islam in the modern world and the theology of Qur’an. He has also been actively involved in the design and implementation of several initiatives related to Islamic finance, youth education, studies of classical Arabic, contemporary Islamic studies and the Australian Journal of Islamic Studies. Ahmad is currently a lecturer, Islamic Sciences at Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation (CISAC).

I have been teaching several subjects at CISAC for a number of years that are offered online, however a significant number of students still prefer to attend onsite classes. Our students have observed that for them onsite learning experiences are more engaging and rewarding. The challenge for me as a lecturer in subjects delivered online is coming up with a process that will enable me to replicate the onsite experience for online students. Learning and teaching strategies in online spaces are critical ingredients in achieving this goal. Engaging students in the online learning experience requires the appropriation of technology to learning. We cannot engage online students without the help of appropriate technology. I believe that our students’ learning can only be delivered if the technology used will enhance the transfer of knowledge and set them on the right path to achieve the learning outcomes.

What were you trying to achieve?
I needed a solution that could in the first instance replicate the in-class content delivery experience by allowing the students to better interact with the content being delivered online. Being a sessional lecturer, I only have limited time to invest in learning a new system. Therefore, the system needed to be well-supported, easy to manage and use. This is where Panopto (CSU Replay) supported my teaching practice.

What did it look like?

  • The Panopto tool was added to the interact subject site and a CSU Replay folder was set up for the subject.
  • CSU Replay was made visible to the students on the left-hand menu.
  • The tool was used to record the onsite weekly lectures.
  • Some minor edits were made to correct errors on slides or delete long audio pauses. The camera was not used to make allowances for students who may not have good internet access.
  • After the recordings were edited and published, a link was added under each weekly learning module, for ease of access, as well as logical navigation of content.
  • For some subjects, there were only online tutorials or seminars offered. In these instances, a lecture was pre-recorded using the tool, edited and uploaded a week before the online tutorial or seminar to enable students to review and prepare for the online class.

The technology provided the flexibility for both the lecturer and the students. The lecturer can review the pre-recorded lecture, edit by deleting or adding audio, video or slides. This significantly improved the quality of the content provided. The students can work with the technology according to their own preferences, including having options to download the audio stream, or watch the video (slides), or both. The students were also able to add their own notes and comments as they are going through the recorded lecture. The discussion facility also provided an added advantage, however it appears that the students did not utilise it. Finally, the ability of both the students and the lecturer to go to a specific section of the content (using either the bookmark or the content list) without having to hear or browse through the entire recording to find the correct point provided huge efficiencies in delivering and using the content.

Ahmad is happy to discuss his strategies.