press release
Published: 11 June 2020

Sharing the University of Surrey’s rapidly acquired online learning experience internationally

By Robert Blevin

Covid-19 forced a rapid shift to online teaching and assessment at UK universities in March 2020. The University of Surrey’s experience of shifting to online learning with very little notice, and of delivering and implementing plans for online assessment that maintained rigorous quality assurance soon afterwards, has brought interest and requests for help from other universities at home and abroad.

Osama Khan

Georgian university the Batumi State Maritime Academy (BSMA) approached University of Surrey Vice Provost, Education, Osama Khan – a former visiting professor at BSMA – for assistance with their own urgent need to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic with a similarly rapid shift in policies and practices. He was also able to provide them with support on contingency planning, with specific reference to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Professor Osama Khan, the University of Surrey’s Vice Provost, Education, said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has been enormously challenging for the education sector. Educationalists across the globe in schools, colleges and universities are grappling with the challenge of continuing to deliver education online while maintaining quality and standards.

“Having wrestled with and resolved these challenges at extraordinary pace ourselves, we were happy to provide support to our international peers in meeting the same challenges. We were able to share Surrey’s insights on ensuring quality online education and on designing and delivering assessments that verify learning outcomes while supporting students from different backgrounds.”

Professor Captain Irakli Sharabidze, Master Mariner, AFNI, IFSMA, Rector of the Batumi State Maritime Academy, said:

“We are grateful to Professor Khan for his support in helping us provide distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic, developing with us different approaches to build resistance and flexibility. Distance learning skills are relatively new for BSMA. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, we needed to rapidly plan to transfer all activities – educational and administrative – to remote delivery.

“Professor Khan’s work with our management team over Zoom enabled us to support students and academic and teaching staff in using new technology in the learning process, provide systematic training and assistance to use new technologies and make amendments in course structure, delivery methods and alternative assessment methods compatible with distance learning. The materials he provided based on Surrey’s experiences have allowed us to develop our own materials for internal training and dissemination.”

Professor Khan is also chairing the weekly Covid-19 Learning, Teaching and Assessment Group of a group of UK universities Brunel, City, UEA, Essex, Goldsmiths, Kent, Reading, Royal Holloway, Surrey, Sussex, Lancaster, Loughborough, Leicester, Bath, Aberdeen, St Andrews and Dundee. These meetings are facilitating an exchange of experience and learnings amongst peers at a time of immense change and rapid response in the UK higher education centre.

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