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This University Brings the Engineering Lab to Every Student’s Home!

Published by Afterschool.my on Feb 08, 2021, 11:45 am

Considering the rising concern about the COVID-19 outbreak, a growing number of universities across the world have either postponed or cancelled all campus and other activities, and shifted all teaching and learning online. This situation posed new challenges to both students and lecturers as online teaching and learning became more than just a substitute in ensuring that education continues. Another issue of not being able to have physical meetings is that both students and lecturers are unable to interact face to face, and this may lead to inefficiency in learning and a lack of motivation due to isolation. Being alone at home may also lead to a slight deterioration in the quality of work if students find the extra workload isn’t helping, and they may worry about the quality of grades and assessments. Some might even think that this is not the education experience that they had signed up for.

How are universities responding to these concerns during the pandemic? Many universities have responded with great agility to this sudden dramatic change. Lecturers and tutors have moved to new approaches for the most effective teaching and learning. They no longer rely on the ‘chalk and talk’ mode but have become guides, facilitators, curators and collaborators in the learning process.

What does the University of Southampton Malaysia do?

Believing that its top priority is providing learning continuity so students can graduate and move into employment, the University goes beyond the basics in supporting students in their learning. Some of its efforts include:

1. Over 200 million digital resources to aid learning

Students will not only rely on resources and materials provided by their lecturers but can also access DelphiS, a discovery tool that provides quick and simple access to electronic journals and e-books searchable across multiple databases of the University. This enables students to access the materials they need from the comfort of their home.

2. Virtual tutorials led by expert academics

The University has both live sessions and flipped classrooms for virtual lectures and tutorials. Understanding that some students are unable to fully benefit from online resources, the University works with them with compassion and flexibility to ensure that they are not disadvantaged. This is why all sessions are recorded to assist students who can’t make it at the scheduled time, or who simply want to review it again later.

Assistant Professor Dr. Ivan Ling, an Electrical and Electronic Engineering lecturer at the University, takes it one step further to ensure that the quality of teaching and learning at the University remains top notch. He has created a learning portal, inspired by other online teaching and learning providers, to offer mixed media content instead of just lecture recordings.

“The world is changing and so are we. Here, at the University of Southampton Malaysia, we are thinking of innovative ways to practise what we preach, by incorporating technology into our virtual classrooms. We create a virtual environment where demonstrators and tutors can interact with students and provide the much-needed support virtually.”

Students are also supported through various online platforms to gain access to learning resources such as Blackboard, Microsoft Teams and Panopto which enables online submissions and feedback.

Gerald Ting, an engineering student, said “I usually start my lab work way before the lab sessions but it takes a long time without guidance. Thankfully, the website created by our lecturer helps a lot as it is sometimes hard for us to get the answers we need on the web.”

3. Supervised digital projects and assessments

Just when we think that its efforts are enough, the University has surpassed expectations in its commitment to the students by delivering Bitscope, one of the components of students’ laboratory projects for their engineering modules, to their front door – for free. With these virtual scopes, lecturers can guide students virtually using Microsoft Teams. Bitscope and other associated components are loaned to students during the shutdown period to facilitate some of the virtual laboratories. It’s true that nothing beats the experience of a hands-on activity in an actual lab setting but these efforts are the way lecturers would guide students in a laboratory setting. To add to the advantage, students can continue to explore by using these instruments outside the scheduled laboratory sessions– another testament to the fact that learning knows no bounds.

Knowing how challenging it can be for higher education institutions and students to cope and adapt to the current shifts, the University is providing an extraordinary agile response to the unexpected and unprecedented COVID-19 disruption.

Assistant Professor Dr. Low Siow Yong, Head of the Electrical and Electronic Engineering programme at Southampton Malaysia, said “We are constantly adapting and making use of the resources we have to facilitate the best learning environment for students. The USB based oscilloscope is one good example where we continue some of the practical sessions despite the shutdown. Students continue to learn the technical skills through these hands-on experiences and as importantly, through this process, they also pick up many transferable skills such as communication and time management. At the end of the day, we graduate engineers, not just graduates.”

The University of Southampton Malaysia has been working hard in providing online teaching and learning since March last year, and will continue its commitment to offering students a smart, contemporary and authentic learning environment that will prepare them for the future.

If you are interested to find out more about how the University is responding to the current situation, give a call to +6012-315 5047.

To learn more about the University, visit www.southamptonmalaysia.edu.my


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