Covid-19: When going digital is the only option

Covid-19: When going digital is the only option

By Zulqarnain

In this Covid-19 testing times, educational institutions in Pakistan are the ones that have only one choice — go digital or become history.

The Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) has taken up this challenge during the last three months, and come up with a number of online initiatives under its progressive Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Bushra Mirza.

After taking the varsity faculty on board she has introduced the “Learning Management System-LMS” to engage LCWU 14,000 students and over 600 faculty members online during the pandemic.

    “We have also started ‘Smart University Project’ and also developed ‘Online Course Directory’ (OCD) for smooth running of the university academic and administrative affairs during this testing time, ” LCWU Vice-Chancellor Prof Bushra Mirza says.

   The LMS has provisions of content delivery and assessment with integrated monitoring mechanisms. “It is accessible from home for students and faculty. They can benefit from its responsive environment. A total of 46 departments of the university are offering 1,769 online courses of BS, MA/MSc, MS/MPhil and PhD for both the campuses of the university – Lahore and Jhang,” she says, adding the faculty and students have also been provided with hands-on training on LMS.

“We have also started ‘Smart University Project’ and also developed ‘Online Course Directory’ (OCD) for smooth running of the university academic and administrative affairs during this testing time, ”: Prof Bushra Mirza

   The VC is of the opinion that by adopting LMS in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan is a move from traditional classroom system to a virtual one. “It helps quality distance learning, also gives access to parents to monitor the progress of their children. This effort has been made to save the precious time of students and enable them to participate in the development process as envisioned for sustainable development.”

   She says providing remote teaching facility to the students is a challenge but suspension of on-campus teaching activities provide an opportunity to the faculty to fully focus on these areas and to adapt creative problem solving and collaborative working approach to meet the challenge.

Psychological Challenges

   Prof Bushra Mirza further says in the wake of the pandemic, where most people are going through psychological pressures and anxiety, the varsity in collaboration with ‘International Young Psychologists Society’ has launched an ‘Online Counseling Centre’, which is providing consultation, precautions and safety tips for coronavirus prevention, counseling for quarantined patients and caregivers and how to deal with stress, anxiety and depression. This center is also addressing psychosocial aspects of Coronavirus, bereavement for families and health tips to boost the immunity.

Digital Age

Dr Bushra Mirza says in view of the emerging needs of digital age, the department of mass communication under Dr Anjum Zia has launched LCWU WebTV to create awareness among students, faculty and particularly for the public at-large regarding Covid-19 outbreak.

  The LCWU has also presented a cheque of Rs1.5 million to Governor Chaudhry Sarwar for the Prime Minister Corona Relief fund.

  According to Prof Bushra Mirza: ”The role of science and technology has increased in the current scenario. We cannot define our future progress without gaining command in the latest fields of knowledge through quality education, technology and research.”

She says integrated research and internationalization will certainly enable us to meet new challenges therefore LCWU is holding international webinars as a tool of continued essential online educational activity.

Webinar

Recently LCWU has hosted an international webinar on ‘Post Pandemic Higher Education Research, Reshaping Strategies & Policies’. Speakers from United States, Turkey, China, Tunisia and Pakistan participated in this successful webinar. The webinar also hosted an e-poster competition. Large number of universities including China, Nigeria and Pakistan participated in the e-poster competition.

Dr. Bushra Mirza says ‘Times Higher Education World’ University Rankings released the World Ranking of Universities (2020 edition) recently, which ranked LCWU at 1st place in Pakistan and 15th in world top Universities in terms of attaining SDG 5.

 The ‘Times Higher Education Impact Ranking’ is the only global performance indicator that assesses universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals in which it carefully calibrates the indicators to provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons across three broad areas: research, outreach and stewardship. — PAK DESTINY

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