Zayed University Explores Worldwide Shifts in Education Among Teachers and Learners Through Expert Online Discussion

09 Sep 2020

Zayed University together with other members of the Applied Linguistics and Language Teaching (ALLT) team hosted the 3rd edition ALLT Summer 2020 Academic Forum, where they have taken thought-provoking discussions on the recent worldwide shift in education among teachers and learners, in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting, under the theme of ‘Changing Paradigms: Mastering remote Pedagogy’, was recently held virtually, and aimed to provide a vital platform for dialectical reflection on action of the past months’ disruptive effects on linguistics and language education during the preceding few months.

The international forum was comprised of 40 presentations (including the keynote sessions) delivered by academics from seven countries - UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Egypt, Mauritius, India and Japan – in five virtual presentation rooms. The number of session attendees ranged from 99 to 149, with participants providing insights from more than 20 countries.  

The forum featured two international keynote speakers, being Dr. Tariq Elyas from Saudi Arabia, who introduced a session entitled: “The Rise of Remote (Neo)Pedagogy in the Time of 21st Century Pandemic: Exploring the Challenges & Solutions of Virtual Classrooms Based on the Learners’ Experiences”,

Dr. Tariq Elyas: “I was privileged to speak at the annual ALLT 2020 Forum on ‘Changing Paradigms: Mastering Remote Pedagogy' held by ALLT. The conference was one of the first conference initiatives from the GCC on the current worldwide phenomena on remote and online learning. The conference has succeeded in attracting many practitioners, researchers, and policy makers locally and internationally who were interested in online teaching/learning and the art of mastering it. ALLT has proved to be a pioneer in tackling such recent topics, giving back to the community of teachers who benefited from the knowledge provided by many speakers at the event. The forum was professionally handled, and participants left the forum more equipped in mastering remote pedagogy. Well done and thank you ZU, HCT and ALLT”.

Dr. Agnieszka Palalas, from Canada, whose presentation was entitled: “Human-Centred Pedagogy for Digital Learning at Distance” .  Dr. Palalas, drawing on the knowledge of generations of distance learning researchers and practitioners, shared evidence-based pedagogical strategies that promote successful learning experiences and outcomes in digital spaces that encourage collaboration, inquiry and critical reflection, as well as cognitive and emotional growth. Dr. Agnieszka Palalas: “This expertly organised ALLT Summit was timely and indispensable; the dialogue it sparked reflected a need and readiness for a pedagogical paradigm shift toward pedagogies that support digital learning at a distance - pedagogies that respect the changing needs and habits of learners”.

The international audience raised many issues, many of which were related to the validity of online assessments and the ability to engage all students in remote pedagogy. Encouragingly, in keeping with the usual aim of past traditional face to face ALLT academic forums, a range of solutions to address the challenges was provided.

The overarching nature of the solutions provided centered the significant shift in the dynamic of the online forum, as well as the ease by which the ideas were shared and embraced by the participants. Moreover, the online nature of the forum enabled a much deeper understanding of the neo-paradigm in remote education, through the broader perspectives covered, including those who have been leading in the field of online education for many years.

The dedicated faculty from Zayed University worked collaboratively with HCT faculty as session hosts and moderators, resulting in a highly polished and professional performance from the organizing team. This team work contributed to the forum maintaining a high standard of quality, while exhibiting great commitment to the success and continuity of professional development among higher education faculty in the UAE.

The ALLT Summer 2020 Academic Forum organizing committee warmly thanked the session hosts and moderators for their valuable contributions to the event, as well as the Zayed University technical support team for facilitating the online delivery of the event. Significantly, the committee is also indebted to the presenters and the attendees who contributed their experiences, thoughts and solutions whole heartedly, ensuring a highly successful forum.