Minimizing all the challenges of academic closure, Sargodha University, under HEC and PHEC guidelines, has taken initiative for quality assurance in online education and completing its academic year 2019-2020. Online Academic Council has approved all the policies and SOPs for online education developed by the University. Soon after the closure, all the academic and literary activities are continued online through user-friendly apps Zoom and WhatsApp. To facilitate online teaching-learning practices, the University has taken preventive response to the pandemic under COVID-19 response initiative strategy.
OPERATIONALIZED LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
For providing a better quality digital learning platforms to the faculty and the students through personalized management process and information retrieval, an LMS was introduced with the technical guidance of the Higher Education Commission (HEC). Subsequently, the University would be able to deliver a better infrastructure to facilitate better education experience. The entire faculty, following the policy guidelines of HEC, have uploaded their course descriptions, outlines, week plans, and suggested reading material for their respective subjects. Above 3000 courses were uploaded by the faculty on LMS, that would be vital to identify the feedback of students as users of LMS.
LAUNCHED TWO-TIER MONITORING AND EVALUATION PROCESS
For quality assurance and monitoring online classes, the University launched two-tier monitory and evaluation process. Initially, the Heads of the Departments along with course coordinators evaluated and monitored online classes. Further, to ensure the quality of online education, a Quality Enhancement Cell (QEC) Task Force was constituted and its members personally joined the classes to assess the quality of education through continuous monitoring. The evaluation was done against quality indicators mentioned in the proforma. The two-tier class monitoring and evaluation process will continue during the remaining period of the Spring Semester.
DISCONTINUED COURSES RANKED BELOW THE MINIMUM QUALITY PARAMETER
Based on reports received from the Heads of Departments and QEC Task Force, the University discontinued around 125 courses out of more than 3000 courses in some of the departments, whereas online classes of the rest of the courses remain continued.
TRAINED FACULTY WITH ESSENTIAL DIGITAL PEDAGOGY SKILLS
The faculty members whose courses were discontinued have undergone a 5-day training launched on May 4, 2020. The training program was aimed to promote digital literacy and inculcate online teaching skills for better learning outcome returns.
ADDRESSED ISSUES OF INTERNET CONNECTIVITY AND
NON-AVAILABILITY FOR STUDENTS
The students facing internet connectivity or non-availability issues were given the option to freeze the Spring Semester without incurring any additional financial burden. In response, some students submitted applications to freeze the Spring Semester.
REGISTERED FOR ‘COURSERA FOR CAMPUS’
To expedite virtual learning opportunities for the students and faculty, and acquire certification courses at no cost, the University signed up 'Coursera for Campus' program. The initiative would open avenues for 5000 students and faculty members to access around 3800 courses in 400 specializations. As per the decision of the Academic Council, in addition to the regular courses, the interested students would be provided with an opportunity to get enrolled in the certified courses at no cost. Upon the completion of courses from edX and Coursera, the students will get certificates from internationally recognized universities which would be acknowledged in their final transcripts as additional courses.
CONTINUED RESEARCH ACTIVITIES VIRTUALLY
With the emergence of the digital information landscape, the need to access digital libraries and resources has become a necessity of the time. Amid the outbreak, academic and research activities continue to take place for facilitating researchers and students as the department of Library and Information Sciences (LIS), organized its second annual international conference online on the 'Emerging Issues of Information Landscape' on April 20-21, 2020. To get accustomed to the challenges and keep libraries open through digital resources during the lockdown, the idea of digital libraries takes flight.
FORMULATED ASSESSMENT POLICY
To promote the students in next semester on merit, the University has formulated examination policy for Spring semester 2020. In place of mid-term exams, the term paper carrying a weightage of 30 marks was assigned to the students. The priority would be given to the conduct of examination physically after July 15, 2020, when the university will reopen or allowed by HEC. For the purpose one week physical classes will be arranged before the conduct of final term examination to address the deficiency in courses and issues faced by the students during the online classes.
PROVIDED ACCESS TO DIGITAL DATABASES
To facilitate researchers and students with authentic resources, the users are given free access to a vast number of online resources, books and research journals, through HEC Digital Library and Lincoln Corner digital resources.
SHARPENED CRITICAL AND CREATIVE SKILLS THROUGH EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
The University also provided ample opportunities to the students to get connected with extra-curricular activities virtually. Riaz-Shad Co-curricular Forum launched a month-long competition to harness creative and literary skills among the students by engaging them in competitions moving different themes. Career Development Center arranged a session to develop professional competency and to prepare the students for better career paths. Similarly, Lincoln Corner of the University organized a virtual book session to develop reading habit skills and utilize the maximum benefit of quarantine days.
LAUNCHED WEBINAR SERIES FOR INTELLECTUAL
COLLABORATION WITH GLOBAL SCHOLARS
The University has launched 'Summer Webinar Series' to engage scholars from the global community to continue the efforts of the University for creating intellectual space for the students and faculty on contemporary issues of socio-economic and political significance amid the closure.