A study entitled ‘The effect of distance education at the university level’ due to the impact of COVID-19 was carried out recently by students of Sultan Qaboos University (SQU).
The study was jointly prepared by Dr. Yassin Bouchareb, Assistant Professor, Department of Radiology and Molecular Imaging, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, and Noor bint Mohammed bin Amer, a Canadian student who specialises in Medical Physics at the College of Science.
The questionnaire for the study received tremendous response from students of last year.
The study highlighted the impact of distance education on the level and performance of the students during this pandemic, especially among last year students.
The study also recommends that all universities and colleges prepare technical means to provide lectures, applications, and tests, taking into account the quality of communications network in the Sultanate.
It noted that academic specialists had worked to continue offering curricula using the institution’s educational site in addition to various e-applications namely BBB Meeting, Zoom, Google Meet and Moodle.
Dr Bouchareb, who spearheaded the survey, says that they sent out questionnaires covering all colleges and universities. This received tremendous interaction among students of last year with about 73 per cent responding to the questionnaire as compared to students from previous batches.
“Due to the lack of experience by colleges towards managing such emergency situations and the students’ inability to organise their time which had a positive impact on achievements and performance of the students in general,” says Dr Bouchareb.
Canadian student Noor says the study showed a positive result for graduation projects, and students were able to collect and write information in a more comprehensive and accurate way with regard to theoretical projects.
“This is despite the students having faced problems in completing the results required to achieve the goal of the research project and the clarity of its idea due to stoppage of work at laboratories and the difficulty of conducting experiments remotely,” she adds.
Despite these challenges, the role of the academic supervisor for each project and the extent of his perseverance in supporting students to complete the results and achieve project goals became clear, notes the survey.
The study further shows that distance education has had a major role towards addressing the sudden impact of the educational sector due to the pandemic. This also provided opportunities to analyse the pros and cons during the period to create an appropriate environment for study and preparing academics and specialists towards such conditions in future.
The study also mentions that it is necessary to provide lessons for students to prepare themselves for the effective and optimal use of technology available at universities and colleges.
This, the survey notes, will help reduce the impact of such an emergency on higher education as well as the level of university frameworks in order to meet the requirements of the labour market in all sectors of the Sultanate