A four day international training course was organised at the National University of Modern Languages (NUML) Islamabad on 10-13 December. This course, entitled “New competence for online learning and teaching: activities for online tutors” was set up to provide a capacity building opportunity for teachers under the Erasmus+ capacity building project “Blended Learning Courses for Teacher Educators between Asia and Europe” (BLTeae). Prof. Dr. Sufiana Khatoon Malik, the country focal person of BLTeae in Pakistan, was the lead organiser for this training event. .
The opening ceremony which took place on 10 December began with an official introduction of the BLTeae project and the international training course by Prof. Dr. Sufiana Khatoon Malik and was followed by the welcome address of Maj. Gen (R) Zia Uddin Najam HI(M) the Rector of NUML. He emphasised the need for technology as a means to enhance knowledge and stated his hope that this course might open new horizons for online teaching and learning. His Excellency Mr. Martin Kobler Ambassador of Federal Republic of Germany to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, was the chief guest at this opening ceremony. Ambassador Kobler talked about the evolution of internet technology over the years and how such technology can be helpful in the capacity building of young people and in developing the job market for the rapidly growing population in Pakistan.
This training course used a blended learning approach and included sixteen face to face training sessions as well as online sessions with resource persons from USA and Denmark. The course included 25 resource persons, 11 foreigners and 14 local.
Talking about the sustainability of the BLTeae project, Prof. Dr. Sufiana Khatoon said “The day by day developments in information and communication technologies and expansion in the use of social media itself is a guarantee for the sustainability of this project”. NUML has already launched a learning management system and certain programmes are being offered face to face which use online resources. In this project the other partner university from Pakistan is the International Islamic University Islamabad which is also offering certain distance learning programmes in dual mode. She further added that universities and Learning Innovation Division (LID) of HEC can utilize BLTeae 20 technological and pedagogical modules available online for university teachers’ professional development through online. Such practice will cost minimum for HEC because all universities in Pakistan have ICT infrastructure and HEC is moving towards smart university concept, so these modules can be adopted for professional development of teachers as a step forwarded towards launching of smart university concept. Keeping in view the innovative and productive aspects of these modules, they can be used for professional development of college and school teachers as well. In the current era of information and communication technologies we can see a paradigm shift in all domains of life. Cell phones, laptops, and IPads, have become a part and parcel of our life. Especially, our students are living and connecting with multimedia world of e- resources like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, twitter, etc. To teach students of such backgrounds is a challenging task, therefore, there is need to transform instructional practices to bring innovations through mixing technology and traditional face to face instruction."
The major objectives of this training were:
1. To enhance teachers’ competence in integrating information technology in teaching
2. To introduce new technology based techniques that can be used for blended learning.
3. To develop teacher educators competence for online tutoring skills
The course was made available online via the NUML official Facebook page and teachers from 8 regional campuses of NUML at Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi, Quettta, Haiderabad, Faisalabad, and Multan took part through video conferencing.
The content of the course included: Using Social Media to Enhance Teaching and Learning, digital tools for learning, Developing e-Portfolios with free and open source tools, balancing the Two Faces of e Portfolios, Using video in teacher training, Blending learning approach for in -service teacher education programmes - The case of Institute Pendidikan G Batu Lintang, Facebook in teaching and learning, Designing in Learning Management Systems: Learner Experience Design, Knowledge clips, Online communities: Issues and Challenges, the case of Pakistan and practices to deal with challenges faced by online reflective communities of teachers, active learning, placed-based learning, online assessment practices, radio interactive instruction, blended learning and teaching gadgets. A practical workshop was also conducted for hands on practice on designing, and developing simple multimedia learning objects.
Participants had a wonderful experience and the feedback at the end of the course was excellent. Such courses clearly can play a role in fostering collaboration and promoting, peace, harmony and cultural understanding among people of various nations.
In the closing ceremony of this training course, His Excellency Jean François Cautin, Ambassador of European Union to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was the chief guest and in his speech he stressed the value of projects like BLTeae in building bridges between academics from Asia and Europe working on quality education.
In her closing remarks, Prof. Dr. Sufiana Khatoon Malik, thanked the Rector of NUML for facilitating her in the execution of the BLTeae project and the training at NUML course. She also thanked Ms. Huma Rashid, the training moderator, for her intellectual inputs during the various sessions and everyone who directly or indirectly supported her in organising this international event. According to Prof. Dr. Sufiana Malik, although it was not an easy task to collect so many foreign colleagues on a single platform to pursue their common goal, however she does believe in “Where there is a passion, there is a way”.