Virtual University of Pakistan Organised Webinar on “Initiatives and Issues in Online Higher Education”

The Department of Education, VUP organized a webinar on September 01, 2020 on the topic “Initiatives and Issues in Online Higher Education’. The Chief Guest was Prof. Dr. Fazal A. Khalid (S.I.), Chairman Punjab Higher Education Commission. The guest speakers included Prof. Dr. Nabi Bux Jumani, Acting President from IIUI; Prof. Dr. Muhammad Sarwar, Director QEC, UOS; Prof. Dr. Nasir Mahmood, Dean, Faculty of Education, AIOU; Prof. Dr. Abid Kamran, University of the Punjab, and Dr. Mohsin Nazir from LCWU. More than 140 students and faculty members from different universities of Pakistan participated in the webinar. The webinar also attracted some participants from Malaysia and Ghana.

The webinar was organized to provide a platform to the HEIs to share their experiences of learning on alternative modes of teaching-learning in the context of sudden cessation of all conventional education activity due to COVID-19. The Rector shared his vision of online and blended learning and its scope in Pakistan. The Chief Guest highlighted the growing need of online higher education during COVID-19 and beyond. He briefed about the efforts of the Government of Punjab in supporting online teaching and learning and invited VUP to collaborate with the PHEC to train the faculty for this purpose. The resource persons shared the timely response by the HEC and the universities to go online to save the academic year of the students. For this purpose, some universities devised and adopted strategies for holding classes and conducting examinations. The PU and UOS held large scale proctored examinations for the students of affiliated colleges and external students. The Resource Persons shared the difficulties faced by the teachers in immediate transfer from the conventional mode to the online mode. Dr. Nasir Mahmood discussed how the teachers can prepare themselves as effective online teachers. The panelists recommended that effective online programs can be designed only with the tri-party collaboration among subject experts, educationists and IT instructional designers.

All of the experts applauded the model and the role of VUP not only for uninterrupted continuity of its own programs but modeling it for other universities and offering all possible support. The experts said that now online education is not the domain of VUP only, it is the need of all universities. It was also expressed that COVID-19 has brought together all the stakeholders of education on one platform to acknowledge the complementarity of different modes of education that will lead to the acceptance and recognition of online, blended and hybrid modes of teaching and learning. Dr. Munawar S. Mirza concluded the webinar by summarizing the key points of the talks of all eminent speakers and provided the way forward for the universities during COVID-19 and thereafter. She appreciated the members of the organizing team, the support provided by the IT Department and the patronage of the Rector. The contributions of organizers, guest speakers and participants were also acknowledged in the form of e-certificates.