GUST Holds Student-Led Conference on “Increasing Student Motivation and Engagement in Online Courses”
Gulf University for Science and Technology’s Education Program held its third student-led conference this week which was titled “Increasing Student Motivation and Engagement in Online Courses”. The event brought together in service and pre-service GUST Education students and alumni members to discuss student motivation and engagement in online courses. The conference, which took place from the 4th to the 6th of January, was held on the Microsoft Teams platform and hosted nine webinars tackling different topics.
The online conference focused on the key considerations needed to ensure an engaging and motivational learning environment when teaching in nontraditional online classes. While online teaching and learning is based in the same solid principles of face-to-face teaching, it requires additional considerations when it comes to increasing student motivation and engagement. Teachers need to tailor a particular nature of content delivery, learning activities, and assessments.
The virtual conference, which was kicked off with a welcoming speech by the Chair of the Conference Organizing Committee, Dr. Florentina Halimi, included nine webinars covering several different topics on the matter, all given by GUST students and alumni. Participating lecturers presented their ideas and various teaching strategies that utilize technology to support student learning, and presented some teacher instructional methods and techniques for online classes. These webinars included subjects such as ‘The Impact of Motivation in Online Learning Activities’ by Kauthar Almousawi;‘Strategies to Increase Student Engagement in Middle and High School Online Learning’ by Leila Farhat and Shahed Almatawha; ‘Using Apps to Enhance Distance Learning’ by Naser Shahada and Mohammad AlShakhas; ‘Boosting Student Participation Online with Collaborative Activities’ by Aishah AlMekhaizeem and Maryam Metaeb, Teacher’s Website for Connecting with Students and Parents’ by Zahra AlAyan; ‘Virtual school: Learning Apps for Online Education’ by Reem Metle and Senait Nebarai; ‘Tools for Online Learning & Strategies for Student Engagement’ by Malak Khalaf; ’Using Flipped Classroom Tech to Engage Students in Middle School’ by Farah Musameh and Razan Suwwan, ‘Using Imaginary Ball Teaching Strategy in Online Classes to Do More than Gamify a Lesson’ by Yara Zukari, and ‘Interactive E-Learning Web Apps for Online Classroom’ by Athoub Aldhufiri were also presented.
Assistant Professor Dr. Florentina Halimi said “Since the beginning of the pandemic there has been striking ambivalence in recent research studies and teaching experiences on virtual learning, but useful ambivalence nonetheless. During the summer 2020, I attended the online faculty professional development courses from Harvard University that were focused on specific techniques for faculty to increase student engagement in online classrooms for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Many of these strategies were implemented in my online courses of Classroom Management and Technology-Based Learning throughout the Fall semester. We realized that paradoxically our e-classes were more participatory than the physical classrooms. Online student-led discussions and specific online teaching strategies such as ‘Socratic Dialogue’, using ‘Think-Pair-Share’ in the college classroom may offer students more ways in articulating their thoughts, in turn creating a more in-depth dialogue in class. Therefore, it is important that we continue to articulate our ambivalence and highlight the tradeoffs involved in virtual teaching and learning, and thus fine-tune the teaching methods used in virtual teaching. As we are ending this virtual semester on a positive note, we decided to organize our third student-led conference and highlight the teachings and learning experiences gained during the Fall semester of 2020. We hope that our conflicted feelings help shape a constructive attitude for online teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The conference successfully showcased the latest and most interesting findings in online teaching and learning, and gave an opportunity for GUST members to share their management approaches, pedagogy, and best practices. It also presented a great opportunity for current GUST students to build connections in the field by networking with experienced alumni members, further aiding in the development of educational innovation through increased communications and advocacy.