Policy for Online Teaching - Spring-2020 Semester

Sarhad University of Science & Information Technology, Peshawar

Post Covid-19 Online Education and Assessment Policy

 

1.      In the wake of covid-19 lockdown from 13th March, 2020, the University started preparing to switch over to online education as per the guidelines of the Higher Education Commission (HEC). This policy, aimed at savings students’ precious time during the lockdown period,lays down the procedure for conduct of classes and assessment/evaluation using the online technologies including use of the SUIT’s LMS. This policy can be termed as SUIT Post Covid-19 Online Education and Assessment Policy. It bears approval of the Online Academic Committee (OAC) constituted for the purpose.

2.      Use of Learning Management System (LMS):

Sarhad University has MOODLE based LMS that is continuously being populated by the faculty members. Minimum features of functional Learning Management System (LMS) required for Virtual Instructions are given in university. The University has planned hybrid mechanism wherein audio/video lectures, PowerPoint and MSWord/PDF documents, video clips etc are placed in the relevant folders (for use in asynchronous mode). The faculty members will conduct online classes as per the already shared timetable through Google Meet or Zoom (the synchronous mode).  Attendance and recordings of these sessions will be recorded and students will be allowed to appear in the examinations only if they meet the attendance requirement. 

3.      This policy document is divided into four parts. 

3.1   Part-I relates to the Main Campus Students who are deprived of the on-campus  opportunity due to the lockdown.

3.2     Part-IIconcerns the students studying at various Distance Education Centres (DECs) all across the country.

3.3       Part-III covers the roles and responsibilities of various offices for the purpose of quality assurance of the online academic activities.

3.4       Part-IV covers online enrollment and attendance procedure, timetables, Students’ Feedback, contact numbers and email addresses of the faculty/staff responsible and a mechanism for Redressal of Grievances.

 

4.      Part-I:  Policy for Main Campus Students

4.1       The Fall 2019 Semester: At the time of lockdown and closure of the institution, the Fall 2019 semester examination of  most  of the departments were completed and their Spring 2020 semester had just begun.  Their Fall 2019 semester is thus not affected. These include departments of Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science & Information Technology, Business Administration, Economics, Chemistry, Institute of Biological Sciences, Health Sciences, Urdu and Textile & Fashion Design.  The departments whose Fall 2019 semester examinations were partly conducted and then halted due to lockdown include Education, Library & Information Sciences, Sports Sciences& Physical Education, Technologies and Pharmacy.  Their pending examination of the leftover courses will be conducted on resumption of the on-campus activity.  However, students from these programs will be promoted provisionally to the next higher semester so that their Spring 2020 semester is commenced enabling them to complete their studies without wastage of time. They will be required to appear in the deferred examination after 15th July, 2020 once the institutions are allowed to start face to face interaction.

4.2       The Spring 2020 Semester: Immediately after the lockdown was imposed, the faculty members had been directed to prepare and upload audio/video lectures of the courses scheduled for the Spring 2020 semester.  Students were given access to the uploaded material and encouraged to interact with their faculty using Google Meet/Zoom and WhatsApp groups.  The purpose was to fine tune the online activity before the Spring 2020 semester is launched. 

4.2.1    Start of Spring 2020 Semester:  The Spring 2020 semester is set to commence with effect from Monday, 1stJune, 2020 as per the timetable already shared.  There was no restriction for all those who did not have any connectivity issue.   However, from 1st June, access will be granted to only those who have paid their dues in full.  Those who have paid partial dues will have access but in order to appear in any examination, they will have to clear their outstanding dues.

4.2.2    Provision of Course Drop/Semester Off:In view of the concerns raised by many who faced connectivity problem or did not feel comfortable with online education, anyone who paid his/her Spring 2020 fee and is unable or unwilling to join the online classes can apply for dropping of the whole semester (semester freeze) or particular course(s) within four weeks of commencement of the semester (i.e., by 28thJune, 2020).  Such students will be able to have the paid fee adjusted against courses taken in Fall 2020 or subsequent semesters.  However, students opting for course drop/semester off will not be entertained if they subsequently express desire to change their option and join the semester.

4.2.3    Assessment and Evaluation: The students will be required to appear in online quizzes and submit assignments during the online conduct of the semester.  In case the institutions are allowed to function after 15th July, 2020, mid semester as well as semester final examinations will be conducted at Campus.  However, in case the lockdown is prolonged further, the mid and final examinations will also be conducted online.  The duration of each online examination paper will be two hours.  It will be open book examination in which students will be allowed to appear in their own time (within a 24 hour bracket).  Questions will be selected from a bank of questions already prepared and saved. The paper once opened will have to be attempted within two hours. Grading will be based on curving rather than the usual fixed point method.

5.      Part-II:  Policy for Distant Students: This part of the policy applies to those students who were admitted in distance education programs of the University and are currently pursuing their degree programs through various DECs.

5.1       The Fall 2019 Semester:At the time of lockdown and closure of the institution, the Fall 2019 semester examination was in progress and had to be discontinued.  The assessment of the students enrolled in Fall 2019 semester is planned to be as per the following:

5.1.1    Those papers that were conducted prior to the lockdown will be evaluated and graded as per the prevailing procedure.

5.1.2    As regards the courses that were enrolled on regular basis but their semester final examinations could not be conducted due to the lockdown, these courses will be reflected in the transcripts on audit basis (with S representing Satisfactory  or U representing Unsatisfactory) depending on marks in the mid semester examination.  The Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grade will not contribute towards the GPA/CGPA.  Reason for award of the letter Grade on audit basis will be reflected in the “Remarks” column on the transcript.  Those students who do not desire to be awarded Satisfactory Grade need to convey their unwillingness through their respective DECs within one month time (by 28 June, 2020).

5.1.3    For those who had enrolled in course(s) as reappear students for the purpose of improvement will be allowed to appear in the examination of the same paper(s) in Fall 2020 semester without paying any extra dues.

 

5.2       The Spring 2020 Batch: Those admitted in Spring 2020 semester will start and continue their education online as per the university distance education policy. Necessary instructions to this effect have already been issued to the DECs.  Students will be given access to the material (video lectures, PowerPoint and MSword/PDF documents, video clips etc) uploaded by the University on the University Portal.  These students will have to interact with the faculty from their respective DEC using Google Meet/Zoom and WhatsApp groups.  The Spring 2020 semester is scheduled to commence with effect from 1stJune, 2020.

5.2.1    Start of Spring 2020 Semester for Continuing Students: Those students who were admitted prior to Fall 2019 and had already taken at least two semesters at the DECs and whose Fall 2019 semester examination was discontinued due to lockdown, are being provisionally promoted to the next semester.  They will receive their Fall 2019 result compiled as outlined in Para 5.1 above. The Spring 2020 semester is set to commence with effect from Monday, 1stJune, 2020 as per the timetable to be shared by the respective DEC.  Those who have paid their fee for the Spring 2020 semesterwill be granted access and allowed to attend online classes.

5.2.2    Provision of Course Drop/Semester Off:  Any student who faces connectivity problem or does not feel comfortable with online education or is unable or unwilling to join the online classes can apply for dropping of the whole semester or particular course(s) within four weeks of commencement of the semester (i.e, by 28thJune, 2020).  Such students will be able to have the paid fee adjusted against courses taken in Fall 2020 or subsequent semester.  However, students opting for course drop/semester off will not be entertained if they subsequently express desire to change their option and join the semester.

5.2.3    Assessment and Evaluation:  The students will be required to appear in online quizzes and assignments during the semester.  In case, the DECs are allowed to function after 15th July, 2020, mid semester as well as semester final examination will be conducted as per previous practice. However, in case the lockdown is prolonged further, the mid and final examinations will be conducted online.  The duration of each online examination paper will be two hours.  It will be open book examination in which students will be allowed to appear in their own time (within a 24 hour bracket).  Questions will be selected from a bank of questions already prepared and saved. The paper once opened will have to be attempted within two hours.  Grading will be based on curving rather than the usual fixed point method.

 

6.      Conduct of REC and Graduate Studies Committee MeetingsThe concerned Head of Department in collaboration with ICT staff is to ensure:

(a)        that all members of the Research Evaluation Committee or the Graduate Studies    Committee (whichever the case may be) as well as the candidate have the appropriate technology to participate in the meeting;

(b)       that the technology is tested prior to start of the meeting;

(c)        that remote participation is uninterrupted and, if interrupted, the proceedings of     the meeting shall be paused until the connections are fully restored;

(d)       that the proceedings of the online meeting are recorded with prior information to   all the Committee members and the candidate; and

(e)        that the recording is maintained as confidential record, for possible review/verification by the HEC or the concerned regulating council.

 

7.      Convening of Meetings of BOASAR:   The Registrar Office is to prepare and send the agenda of the Board of Advance Studies and Research (BOASAR) to all the members and seek their observations in writing/through electronic means within a reasonable time.  Online BOASAR meeting is to be scheduled and conducted subsequently and its proceedings recorded.

 

8.      Graduating Students/Scholars:

8.1       As per HEC’s guidelines, the University will allow and facilitate conduct of PhD/MPhil/MS defense or the presentation of undergraduate project work through videoconference or electronic meetings.

8.2       Research/Project Report Submission: The students/scholars can submit their theses/project reports online to their respective supervisors who will forward these online to the Registrar Office for online submission to the external and internal evaluators.  The Registrar Office will be responsible for collection of evaluation reports from external and internal evaluators and will also be responsible to keep the Director QEC on board.  All other prescribed requirements for the submission, including format, deadlines, and contents, will remain unchanged.

8.3       Evaluation: The submitted documents (i.e., PhD dissertations, MPhil/ MS theses, or final year project reports) are to be circulated electronically to both internal and external evaluators for review, comments and evaluation.

8.4       Protection of Privacy: Those receiving the electronic copies of theses or reports are to adopt appropriate security measures to safeguard against possible misuse, breach of privacy, or unauthorized leakage of evaluation reports and other documents.

8.5       Open Public Defense: In order to ensure the open public defense of dissertations, theses, and projects, the University will make adequate arrangements to enable the participation of all interested persons, including faculty, students, and staff of the university as well as members of the public. These arrangements will include an open call for registration on the university website, and subsequent communication of online joining link to all those who express interest in participation. 

8.6       Participation of Examiners: The University will arrange electronic defense once all the members of the Defense Committee confirm their willingness and ability to join the electronic defense at proposed date and time. If for any reason (including technical difficulties), one or more of the required examiners are not able to participate fully in the session, the defense would need to be re-scheduled until all formalities are met.

8.7       ICT Tools: Online defense can be conducted using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Google meet, Video Conference, or other tool agreed upon by all the prospective participants.

8.8       Uninterrupted Proceedings and Recording: The concerned supervisor in collaboration with ICT staff is to ensure:

(a)        that all members of the Defense Committee as well as the candidate have the appropriate technology to participate in the defense;

(b)       that the technology is tested prior to the defense;

(c)        that remote participation is uninterrupted and, if interrupted, the defense shall be paused until the connections are fully restored; and

(d)       that the proceedings of the online defense are recorded with prior information to all the Defense Committee members and the candidate, and maintained as confidential record, for possible review/verification by the HEC or the concerned regulating council.

8.9       Electronic Signatures: The digital signatures of the Defense Committee shall be sufficient to certify the results of the defense.

8.10     Announcement of Result: The usual procedure of approvals is to be followed prior to the announcement of results.

9.      Part-III: Roles and Responsibilities: For the purpose of quality assurance of the online academic activity during the lockdown period (as per the HEC guidelines on Quality Standards for Online Higher Education for HEIs/DAIs Continuing Online Teaching during COVID-19 Pandemic).

General Standards

Specific Review Standards

Points

Responsibility

Course Design

 

 

 

Benchmarking the course outline and various course components (relevant, up-to-date, incorporate latest techniques and trends)

3

Head of Department (through Board of Studies)

Well-documented learning objectives and intended learning outcomes and level of the course.

3

Head of Department (through Board of Studies)

Teaching methodology and pedagogies communication strategy: discussion forums, social network groups, emails (ensuring quality of interaction).

3

Head of Department (through Board of Studies and with support from Learning Management Department)

Additional

Course policies and link with institutional mission and vision statements

2

Head of Department (through Board of Studies)

 

Prerequisite of faculty and student skill assessment to use digital skills and expectations

2

Learning Management Department

Additional

Prerequisite knowledge in the discipline and any required competencies, academic and social values

2

Head of Department

 

Instructional Material

Benchmarking of the instructional materials and learning methodologies (up to date, modern and addressing the need and the level of the learner and relevant to the national and international trends)

2

Head of Department (through Board of Studies)

Sources of instructional materials used and teacher’s own contribution in development of learning audio-visuals, quizzes, assignments, etc.

3

Course teacher

Additional

Implementation of academic values like trust, respect, academic honesty and integrity expected as an outcome of the course.

3

Course teacher (through Code of Conduct for students published in prospectuses)

Existing but emphasized

Learning Activities and Learner Interaction

Relationship between learning objectives and learning activities.

3

Course teacher

Time and opportunities allocated for the supervision of the students and teachers support and institutional support (Library Support)

3

Head of Department

Existing but emphasized

Submission of lecture plans and post lecture assessment (problems faced while delivering the lecture contents)

3

Course teacher (with Learning Management Department)

Additional

Course Technology

Technology requirements and alignment with the available technology

3

Learning Management Department

 

Audio-visual aids and technology required for delivering the course (access to multimedia)

3

Essential technology for increasing the students’ engagement

3

Information on protecting students privacy

2

Course material availability policies, readability, access, ease of use

3

Learner Support

A clear description of the technical support available and how to learn and use

3

Learning Management Department

Institution’s accessibility policies and services available on software (license) and hardware (photocopy), etc.

3

Learning Management Department

Existing but emphasized

Academic support services and resources available

3

Learning Management Department

Student support center and data support center, book banks, student loans etc.

3

1.  Learning Management Department (for data support center)

2.  Student Affairs Department (for other student support)

Assessment and Measurement

The assessment methodology and policy (rubric guidelines for assessment)

3

Assessment methodology and policy shall be developed at Faculty level (through respective Dean)

Students’ competency measurement and analysis plan

3

Course teacher

Existing but emphasized

Assessment techniques and relationship with the course objectives and class strategies

3

Course teacher

Course grading policy and institutional grading policy alignment

3

Course teacher

Additional

Curriculum Standards

Effectiveness of the curriculum (International best practices and relevant to the national needs and aligned with the HEC’s guidelines)

3

Head of Department (through Board of Studies)

 

Expected behavior of the faculty and the students

3

Head of Department (Awareness through meetings, seminars, workshops, etc.)

Additional

Efficiency in terms of students’ learning abilities

3

Head of Department (Awareness through meetings, seminars, workshops, etc.)

Implementation reports

3

Head of Department

Additional

Assessment and accountability

3

Head of Department

Additional

Monitoring Systems

Allocation of course to the faculty member well before the actual teaching (time required for course preparation, planning and collecting all the relevant resources)

3

Head of Department

Assessment of all the teaching facilities and ensuring availability before commencing the classes

3

Learning Management Department

Additional

Scheduling the course at appropriate level and with appropriate scheme of studies

3

Head of Department (through Board of Studies)

Course content assessment

3

Head of Department (through Board of Studies)

NOC for course content quality

3

Head of Department shall issue NOC for each course


In addition to the above review standards, the Director QEC, SUIT is responsible to pursue progress on SARs and other quality related activities as per the prevailing practice.

10. Part-IV:  This part covers the Online Enrollment, Attendance Procedure, Time Tables, Students’ Feedback, Important Contact Numbers & Email Addresses and Procedure for Redressal of Grievances.

10.1          Online Enrollment: This will be carried out by the Assistant Director, QEC through LMS by enrolling the students in the next semester and also to allocate respective courses of the next semester to them.

10.2    Attendance Procedure: SUIT’s LMS already has the provision of Synchronous/ asynchronous mode. For Synchronous mode, attendance of the students will be maintained through the participation in virtual class to be conducted through MS Zoom/Google Meet. Each Faculty member is responsible to provide attendance on every weekend to the Departmental Coordinator for onward submission to the Concerned HoD. For asynchronous mode, attendance of the students will be maintained through Log Report which can be seen/printed from the LMS.

10.3     Time Table: The Departmental Coordinators are to upload time tables of their respective departments on SUIT’s website for facilitation of students and faculty members.

10.4     Students’ Feedback: The Departmental Coordinator will be responsible to get students’ feedback from LMS on weekly basis and to discuss the same with the Concerned HoD for further improvement in teaching and learning, if any.

10.5     Important Contact Numbers: The Departmental Coordinators are responsible for academic assistance to their students. Therefore, all the students can contact them in case of any academic problem. Their Contact Numbers and Email addresses are available on University’s website.

                  In addition to above, the following offices can also be contacted for any sort of Technical, Financial and General Complaints:

      Technical:   Director, Data & Communication SUIT, 091-5230931 (333); director.dnc@suit.edu.pk

     Financial:   The Deputy Controller of Finances SUIT, 0315-9599400, 0300-0700275, 0300-5861300; mansoor.accounts@suit.edu.pk

     General Complaints:    Admissions Section SUIT, 0321-5777412, admissions@suit.edu.pk.

10.6     Procedure for Redressal of Grievances: In order to address the grievances of the students related to assessment, the Controller of Examinations, SUIT is designated as Focal Person to receive the grievances and place before the following Grievances Redressal Committee for consideration:

                      i.          Prof. Dr. S. Ghias-ul-Haq, Dean, Faculty of Management Sciences, SUIT       (Convener)

 

                      ii.         Prof. Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad Khan,   Director, Quality Enhancement Cell, SUIT      (Member/Secretary)

 

                      iii.      Dr. Muhammad Saleem, Director General,   Distance Learning Management, SUIT       (Member)


The Committee will carry out the following activities:

a.      To draft SoPs for redressal of students’ grievances related to assessment; and

b.   To consider/redress the grievance(s) and submit its recommendations to the Vice Chancellor for perusal/approval. The complainant will be informed about the decision in one week’s time.

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