Faculty Reflect on One Week of Online Instruction


AUC's faculty members have been hard at work trying to navigate the challenges that come with shifting to online instruction. News@AUC spoke to some faculty members to learn about their experiences so far and what they've been doing to adapt to the changes. Here's what they had to say: 


Carie Forden, professor, Department of Psychology

"I teach social psychology, which is very relevant to the current situation, as we are covering topics such as stress, conformity and group behavior. Instead of doing narrated PowerPoints, my husband and I are turning the course material into a podcast, complete with theme music, advertisements and recommendations. My husband is the host who is asking the questions, and I'm the expert guest. He's a good listener and very curious about things, so it works well. It's been a lot of fun. Last week's podcast on stress included a discussion of how to deal with the stress of coronavirus and quarantine and a commercial for meditating while washing your hands."


Tarek Selim '92, '95, professor, Department of Economics

"It was a bit frustrating in the beginning, but now, many faculty actually like it! The challenge for me, and I guess for the whole of AUC as an institution, will be fairness in the online grading system: how to make sure that the inputs received online are indeed the effort of the particular student being assessed and how to make online grading fair for all. This is a fundamental challenge and is an ethical issue and has accreditation requirements as well. Another challenge is the 'time to access' online materials for students if the server/cloud does not have enough capacity in peak times."

On the soft side of things, I received many comics relating AUC's online education to Egyptian cinema/ famous plays."


Rasha Abdulla '92, '96, professor and graduate director, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication:

"My first experience was really good. I taught the class live on Zoom, and a recording is also available online. Almost all the students 'showed up,' and we only had a couple missing. I think it went better than we all expected. The students were wonderful and very interactive. I had done my homework on all the little perks that Zoom has to offer. I used a PowerPoint presentation and shared it with them on the screen, paused to invite questions or comments every once in a while and asked their impressions at the beginning and at the end of the class. I think we were all pretty happy with the experience."


Michael Reimer, associate professor, Department of History 

"Yes, it has been a big challenge. The tasks involved seem endless, and I find it hard to lecture without a class in front of me. However, the positive aspect of online teaching is that I am in more frequent contact with some students who rarely participated in class discussion, but who are now are asking questions and participating in online discussions. Also, because I am setting smaller writing assignments rather than essay examinations, students write more frequently in response to the assigned readings, which I hope will stimulate their understanding of these texts. In the future, even in normal face-to-face instruction, I plan to continue to use online discussion forums to encourage the quieter students to participate."


Shahira Fahmy, professor, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication

"So far, I've taught two online classes: one undergraduate class on Blackboard and the second class was on Zoom for graduate students. My graduate class on Zoom went really well. The students were engaged and very interactive that ironically it almost felt like we could communicate better with each other online than face-to-face.  My undergraduate class still needs some adjustments to get the students more involved and actively engaged in the learning process. I understand that students, and undergraduate students specifically, might feel anxious and apprehensive about the process. I want them to know that these feelings are normal. No one anticipated the current situation, but I think we will all learn from this experience and, in the end, hopefully find some joy in the process."


Hassan Azzazy, professor, Department of Chemistry

"A powerful feature of Panopto is that it enables students to easily locate any topic in a lecture and replay the relevant slides and voice. It also enables students to have permanent records of videotaped lectures. On the other hand, I have used a combination of Notepad and Screen Recorder on my cell phone (with a stylus) to hand write explanations of specific topics or solve exercises as I do on whiteboards in classrooms, then posted links to these videos on Blackboard." 


Adel El Adawy, assistant professor, Middle East Studies Center

"Online teaching was a new experience for me. I hadn't done it before so I didn't know how it will go, but I think after receiving training during spring break and having one week of experience, it went pretty well. I would say my classroom experience has not really changed from face-to-face teaching and now online teaching because most of my classes are very small — graduate seminars, graduate students — so I've decided to use the software Zoom, which actually really gives a very similar experience, as if you are sitting face-to-face in class. We’ll see how the rest of the semester will go, but I think, after one week, I am very satisfied and I think my students are as well."


Ayman Ismail '95, '97, associate professor, Department of Management

"I’ve done a lot of online teaching before, but moving a complete undergraduate course online is a new adventure. So far, it has worked out well. We are holding online discussion sessions using interactive tools, video cases and alternative assessment methods. Students are not only learning the course material, but also new ways of working together, innovating and collaborating."


Khaled Tarabieh, assistant professor, Department of Architecture

"I have been involved in online instruction at AUC during the past five years part of the ProGreen Diploma for Green Technologies where I, along with other professionals in Egypt and Lebanon, taught sustainable design and green technology. In the past two years, the AUC state-of-the-art communication technologies allowed us to engage in virtual teaching with the University of Arizona, creating virtual classrooms to teach Sustainable Architecture. This experience allowed me a smooth transition into fully online teaching in the past week. No challenges were observed except for the daily interaction with the campus community faculty, staff and students, all of which I miss deeply. Our successful transition to online learning shows how our investment over the past few years in infrastructure and online learning has paid off.  I truly believe this situation has been a test of resilience and sustainability of our institution of the future, a test we have fortunately passed with flying colors."


Michael Gibson, senior instructor, Department of Rhetoric and Composition

"Monday the class met on google hangouts. It was ok. Today I used Zoom. It went great.  I really like the online learning and am staying in touch through the week both on google hangout chat and email. I'm enjoying it. The only downside is not being physically together. Some of my students say they like it better because it's more comfortable, convenient, and efficient, and we're actually communicating more often (in various ways) and more thoroughly."