Khalifa University was one of 14 universities from around the world who participated in the Online Forum on Universities’ Responses to Covid-19 – a forum organized by Tsinghua University in collaboration with the Asian Universities Alliance (AUA), headed by Dr. Qui Yong, President of Tsinghua University.
The forum invited leaders of the 14 member universities to share the best practices, policies, and measures their respective university has taken towards combating the Covid-19 pandemic and safeguarding its communities.
Within the context of the unprecedented situation caused by Covid-19 – more than 165 countries have implemented nation-wide school closures and many universities have moved courses online – the University leaders discussed how universities can work globally and act collaboratively to address the immense shared challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The online forum served as a great opportunity for University leaders to share their experiences of transitioning from traditional classroom-based delivery of education to online platforms, and to examine the prospects for the growth of global online education. The forum also acted as a platform to discuss and exchange ideas on how higher education institutions can work together to strengthen research collaboration in areas relevant to Covid-19.
Dr. Arif Al-Hammadi, Executive Vice President of Khalifa University, presented a brief about the measures and actions Khalifa University has executed over the past several weeks to combat the Covid-19 outbreak. He described the gradual and incremental course of action the university has taken to ensure the health and safety of the university community, while maintaining operations, strengthening related health and scientific research, and delivering quality teaching and learning with the minimum amount of disruption.
KU’s Center for Teaching and Learning provided distance training workshops to over 390 faculty and staff members during the week of March 1st. Then, Khalifa University shifted all 670 of its courses online on March 8th. It is delivering instruction online using a variety of distance learning platforms, including Big Blue Button, MS Teams and Black Board Connect. It is also offering a number of content management and development tools to allow faculty to deliver lessons via an asynchronous method.
Thanks to the concerted efforts of Ankabut and KU’s IT Department, an average of around 92% of students reported facing minor or no issues with distance learning, during the week of March 22nd, coupled with around 88% of students, on average, rating their distance learning experience as Excellent, Very Good and Good, during the same week.
In lockstep with its efforts to shift classes online, Khalifa University is also safeguarding its community by reducing the number of staff on campus, providing guidelines around social distancing, and ensuring that work from home resources were ready and accessible.
Khalifa University has also ramped up research aimed at aiding efforts to detect and prevent the spread of coronavirus. Researchers across KU are conducting sensitivity testing for medical devices, and developing computer models to detect the spread of Covid-19 and helping to create emergency ventilators.
Khalifa University’s participation in the online forum initiated by Tsinghua University dovetails with its other ongoing collaborations – Khalifa University has over 200 partnerships with academia, public and private organizations. It is committed to pursuing meaningful collaborations that address today’s most pressing challenges, while creating a robust environment for knowledge sharing and bringing mutual benefit to all parties involved.