Muscat: Dr Rahma bint Ibrahim bin Said Al Mahrouqiyah, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation has issued a ministerial decision on the organisation of work in the private higher education institutions during the first semester of 2020-2021.
The decision stipulated in its first article, “Private higher education institutions shall organise work during the first semester of the academic year 2020-2021 as follows:
1. Working with the blended learning system, educational institutions will determine the cases that require students to attend the university campus, provided that the priority for attending the institutions headquarters is given to the following categories:
2. Educational institutions are obligated to provide an appropriate safe and healthy environment for students and their workers according to the controls contained in the guideline for the necessary precautionary measures to prevent and limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) approved by the Ministry.
3. Educational institutions will determine the courses that can be offered through e-learning and the courses that require class attendance, with appropriate evaluation methods that ensure the achievement of the learning objectives and outcomes specified for each course. Institutions may also mix e-learning (distance) and classroom face-to-face in courses that combine the theoretical and practical components at the same time, provided that these procedures are approved by the specialized academic councils and in accordance with the mechanisms followed in each institution separately.
4. Institutions must adapt the current teaching and evaluation methods and methods to conform to the blended learning system and in line with international standards and good practices for this type of education.
5. Educational institutions are to be committed to developing the technical infrastructure for e-learning on an ongoing basis, and enriching the electronic content for all academic courses in order to ensure the achievement of the targeted learning outcomes and the efficiency of students’ academic achievement, provided that the electronic content of the academic courses includes a mixture of synchronised and asynchronous lectures and the institutions specify the appropriate mechanisms to ensure student interaction in these lectures and their commitment to attend them on time.
6. Institutions may replace written exams with electronic tests, research projects, etc., provided that institutions take the necessary precautionary measures to ensure the quality of students’ work, and verify the availability of technical and academic conditions that support the approved alternatives.
7. Institutions must continuously qualify and train the teaching staff on the methodologies of blended learning and methods of evaluating students’ performance and following up on their levels in a way that guarantees the quality of the educational process while making use of the experiences of academic liaisons or any other bodies with experience in this regard.
8. Institutions should periodically survey the views of students and academics to ensure the effectiveness of the educational process through blended learning and provide them with various aspects of support, with the necessity to define open lines of communication to support students academically and technically, whether by phone or e-mail.
9. Educational institutions coordinate with the relevant authorities to provide practical training opportunities for students of applied programmes in accordance with approved study plans.
10. The educational institutions may cooperate with each other to overcome the distance learning process for students, through sharing the use of resources and facilities, and cooperating in the presentation of similar courses, and this shall be done by prior coordination between them and in accordance with the equivalent systems followed by each educational institution.
11. At the end of the first semester of the academic year 2020-2021, institutions submit a comprehensive report to the Ministry regarding its experience in applying blended learning and the accompanying challenges and treatments.
12. Institutions wishing to continue providing their programmes with the blended learning system after the end of the Corona pandemic, must submit a new application to license their programmes in the blended learning mode in accordance with the controls and conditions that the Ministry will issue later in this regard.