Supporting student- centered and lifelong learning strategies

dr aziz bulailah 2The Dean of the College of Arts in the University of Bahrain Dr. Abdulaziz Bulaila said in an interview “the pandemic pressed everyone to embrace e-learning even those who question its efficiency”, adding “the teaching process is going smoothly so far”. The College of Arts seeks to take advantage of the e-books and references offered by international publishers and increase the number of programs provided in English, he indicated.

Distance learning has helped to create a student-centered and inquiry-based learning process, where students can acquire skills that require drawing conclusions, and making inferences, he emphasized.

The University provides online tools to meet the students’ educational needs, such as Blackboard Ultra and Microsoft 365 package which allow them to share, store, and participate actively in the learning process, he added.

“Some of the advantages accruing from e- learning include economizing on water and electricity, saving time, limiting pollution and reducing traffic accidents,” explained Bulaila.

Moreover, regarding the students’ assessment tools, he said “I believe all claims regarding the inefficiency of Lock Down have been dismissed; the platform worked well and helped create a semi- natural examination environment, where social distancing is observed. It also helped the college to hold a great number of exams at once.”

Dr. Abdulaziz Bulaila pointed out that the online tools and technology provided the students and teachers with capabilities that facilitated the teaching and learning process. For example, a teacher may give a lesson using an interactive whiteboard by simply uploading materials on the online platform. S/he can also record all lectures and edit them at any time in a manner which serves students’ needs.

At the same time, the dean declared that the college is in constant communication with international publishers to benefit from their electronic curricula and references, pointing out that this is in line with the college’s endeavor to increase the number of courses taught in English, notably among which are the new courses offered to obtain a master’s degree in mass communication.

We were accustomed to illiteracy being the inability to read or write, now, illiteracy is the inability to use technology and speak English, therefore we are keen on increasing the number of programs taught in English, such as the Bachelor of Diplomacy, the MA in Women’s Studies. We are also looking forward to expanding the accreditation of more academic programs, he added.

All pioneering research is published in foreign languages, notably in English. That is why, this year, the King Faisal Prize for Arabic Language and Literature is granted to research papers written in English, Dr. Bulaila, added.

With regard to academic output, Dr. Bulaila noted that the research rate has increased lately, as evidenced by the steady increase in the promotions of academic staff. In the same vein, he indicated that e- learning gave the faculty more time for research, especially during lockdown.

Further, regarding the college's priorities in the foreseeable future, he noted that the college seeks to develop the refereed scientific journals by converting them into electronic formats.

The College of Arts will soon hold a virtual conference entitled “The Discourse of Disease and Treatment from the Perspective of Arts and Humanities”. The college will also reactivate the programs organized by cultural committees in each department so that webinars can be held virtually, Dr. Bulaila declared.

In conclusion, Dr. Bulaila has called on students and stakeholders to think positively about e-learning as it is interactive and student-centered, reiterating that it encourages students to broaden their horizons and extend their knowledge. He noted that conventional teaching methods would be replaced with modern ones coping with the fast-paced technological advance.