In line with the country's policies and the procedures taken by the University of Sharjah to continue to provide academic education remotely, and with a keenness to transfer knowledge and upkeep the professional development of human resources in society, the Center for Continuing Education and Professional Development (CCEPD) at the University of Sharjah continues to provide its professional programs without interruption to 95 trainees in many professional programs and diplomas through the distance training system using the course management system at the University of Sharjah.
For his part, Prof. Radhi Al Zubaidi, Director of the CCEPD, stated that the Center at the University of Sharjah is one of its most important tools in the field of community service, as the it works to develop the local community through qualifying human cadres, both for the purpose of developing their professional skills to be promoted in their places of work or the qualification and preparation for the cadres of job-seekers.
Al-Zubaidi added that the distance learning experience is not new to the Center, as the it started, since the beginning of the current semester, to create accounts for trainees in its various training programs on the University's course management system (Blackboard) with the aim of sustainably viewing and copying the training and educational materials from the program itself instead of printing it on paper, and therefore it was easy for the trainees to switch to the application of the distance learning system easily and conveniently under the current conditions.
Al-Zubaidi stressed that the distance learning experience proved successful in a short time, and emphasized that the trainees interact greatly with the instructors as the course management system at the University gives them all options to communicate with the instructors and with each other through the presence of a diversity of technologies used in the teaching process including direct interactive lectures, which take place simultaneously, during which all the trainees, in their homes, meet with the course instructor present his office at the same time to explain and fully interact, and the faculty members have the ability to change the times of some of the lectures for some diplomas.
The Director of the Center added that direct communication through interactive meetings between the course instructor and the trainees, and the use of a large number of multimedia in explaining and presenting the scientific material, and the flexible time range of the lectures, all of these factors contributed to providing a rich and beneficial scientific experience for the trainee and the degree of his understanding of the scientific content. This in addition to technical support provided by the University's IT team, as it ensures full and continuous follow-up, providing the necessary technical support and solving technology-related problems as they happen.
Al-Zubaidi added that the Center currently offers 7 professional diplomas to 95 trainees using the distance training system: the professional diploma in early childhood, the professional diploma in child protection, the professional diploma (family counselor), the professional diploma in interior design - the third and fourth batch, and the professional diploma in the Arabic language for 17 trainees from the Chinese University of Xi'an, and a professional diploma in graphic design and multimedia.
An Invitation to Apply Remote Training in Professional Training Centers:
Dr. Safwan Khaleel, Head of Law Department at the University of Sharjah's Community College, stated that his experience with distance teaching at the CCEPD at the University of Sharjah differs from the teaching of undergraduate students as all trainees are present well before the lecture, and all trainees view the slides presented for the subjects of the training program on a daily basis. He added that the rate of attention to what is being presented has become high. The positive interaction that appears in the discussions of male and female trainees makes us all feel the benefits of the wise decision to implement a system of distance training, and at all levels. Dr. Khaleel believes that, given the results of the experience of the CCEPD at the University of Sharjah, it paves the need to apply them in other training centers in the usual circumstances to reduce transportation costs between cities and also save time for the trainees – especially those of them who have jobs and other administrative responsibilities and tasks.
The Teacher's Inability to Answer Many Students 'Questions at the Same Time:
Dr. Imad Ali Al-Rifai, a part-time lecturer at the CCEPD at the University of Sharjah, confirmed that the virtual classrooms enabled the instructor to give interactive lectures with students in which there is a review of the subject and its explanation, then allowing the space for discussion and questions during and immediately after the lecture by voice and writing. Then the instructor records attendance through the list of those who entered the virtual classroom and pointed out that the infrastructure of the technologies used by the University facilitated the process of distance learning. Despite the excellent success of the experiment, however, some of the negatives we faced at the beginning of this experiment, he added, were for example the difficulty of some students entering the virtual classroom and the speed of downloading files on the program as well as responding to many students' questions at the same time.
Raja Salem Al Muhairi, trainee in the Professional Program Diploma in Early Childhood, confirmed that the distance training experience is an enjoyable experience that achieves educational goals in the event of emergencies and crises. Among the difficulties were the severe pressure on the Internet networks and the inability of some trainees to provide smart devices and Internet connections, as well as the lack of adequate training to use this technology.
As for Sadiqa Hamid Abdullah Al Hosani, trainee in the Professional Diploma Program in Child Protection, she saw that the experience is wonderful and adds a kind of challenge of overcoming issues. The most important of its advantages is that trainees are not restricted in movement, she added, and can continue studying from anywhere – whether at home or at work. One of the difficulties is the interruption of the network at times due to pressure.
Imran Muhammad Al-Hamar, a trainee in the Professional Diploma Program in Child Protection, who works in the child's rescue line in the Child Protection Department, stressed that the experience was very good, especially at the present time, and one of its most important features is reassuring our health and safety at the present time, and that remote training has shortened time and distances for students, along with the possibility to return to lectures at any time to confirm information, and added that interruption of communication remains the main problem that trainees sometimes face.
Aisha Rashid Mohammed bin Hamid Al Tunaiji, a trainee in the Professional Diploma Program in Child Protection, assessed the experience as being excellent in terms of sound quality and clarity of teaching staff, and added that it is one of the features that we are able to write, draw and speak interactively with the instructor.
Dhabiah Ahmad Al Hosani, a trainee in the Professional Program in Early Childhood, stated that despite her apprehension to the distance learning system in the beginning, she discovered that her judgement was changed due to the advantages of the system and thanked the instructors and support team who facilitated this transition in support of the educational process. Al-Hosani stressed the ease of distance training, in terms of clarity of information, and the focus of the trainee due to the lack of side conversations, and the speed of technical problem-solving by the technical support teams. However, the visual lack of communication remains between the instructor and trainee, in her opinion.