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January 22, 2010

Bethlehem University Faculty Members Pilot E-enabled Learning

E-enabled learningRight: Part of BUSA315 students in a field trip to Nassar Stone Company during taking the e-enabled approach

Bethlehem University faculty members Dr. Haifa Konkar (Faculty of Science), and Ms. Nadira Araj (Faculty of Business Administration) piloted a new e-enabled learning methodology in two of their Fall 2009 courses.  A combination of traditional lesson planning and online class though pre-prepared course material uploaded on Moodle –course management system.  The e-enabled approach is part of a project funded by the Ford Foundation and organized by the Center for Continuing Education at Birzeit University.

“This method developed our intellectual and problem-solving abilities,” wrote one course student. “We are used to getting information only from the teachers, but now we can depend on ourselves and our colleagues through forum postings. We also learned how to find additional resources on the internet.”

E-enabled learningDr. Haifa and Ms. Nadira, along with participating faculty members from Birzeit and Al Quds University, uploaded their course materials and assignments to the Moodle class management system.Then students in the pilot courses – Computers and Statistics (Education 313) and Industrial Operations Management (Business Administration 315) – replaced one of their three weekly class sessions with an online session they conducted themselves. Student contributions to their weekly online forums were also a factor in their overall course grades.

 “The majority of my students are familiar with using Moodle, but there were quite some challenges at the beginning of the course,” noted Ms. Nadira. Either they were uncomfortable with the online sessions or they preferred to use a textbook only. For Dr. Haifa’s students in the Faculty of Education, computers themselves were a challenge. Besides familiarity with Moodle, she also had to train them in basic computer skills and help them feel at ease using personal computing systems.  Some of them still had trouble following the instructions for online sessions, she said.

Ms. Nadira’s students reported problems with slow downloads trying to get course materials from the University network but enjoyed the added freedom the e-enabled approach gave them. “I liked the flexibility and the structure of this course in terms of studying whenever I want and wherever I want,” one student commented.

Yet the approach was less liberating for students who did not have home internet access, and many of the Education students had to complete their online coursework while on campus, Dr. Haifa explained. Still, many of the education students said they enjoyed the course approach and liked the idea of having all course materials online.

Ironically, some students found the online approach more social than traditional classes. “Through this course I’ve gotten to know and interact with all the students taking the course in the two sections,” one student explained in course feedback. And in general, students seemed pleased with the experience.

Ms. Nadira’s students were invited to give written feedback on the course during their final exams. Of the 75% who did so, she reported, 96% reported feeling enriched by the e-enabled experience. “The overall reaction,” said Dr. Haifa of her students, “was that this course was a great challenge to them, in which they learned a lot in terms of using the technology in their learning. They felt that they gained confidence in their own abilities in using the computers and in organizing their time and work.”

 

 
Bethlehem University Foundation
Email: brds@bufusa.org
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
E-mail: info@bethlehem.edu
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine