The universities should start blending and online teaching-learning ensuring compliance with the minimum requirements using Learning Management System (LMS) available at campuses and online platforms such as Google Meet, Zoom, Microsoft Class etc.

This was decided in a skype meeting of the PHEC committee constituted to discuss and develop an online  Learning Management System (LMS) during the suspension of academic operations at Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).   Academic activities at HEIs have been suspended by the Government of Punjab in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting, chaired by Chairman PHEC Prof Dr Fazal Ahmed Khalid, was attended by Prof Dr Syed Mansoor Sarwar, Vice-Chancellor, University of Engineering & Technology, Lahore, Prof Dr Muhammad Ashraf Vice-Chancellor, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Prof Dr Khalid Masud Gondal  Vice-Chancellor, King Edward Medical University, Lahore, Prof Dr Niaz Ahmad Akhtar, Prof Dr Talat Naseer Pasha, Vice-Chancellor, University of Education, Lahore, Dr Naeem Tariq, Rector, Virtual University of Pakistan, Lahore, Prof Dr Rukhsana David Principal, Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore.

The committee also decided that the universities should provide training to and facilitate faculty members involved in blended mode of learning and should ensure access to the students in order to engage them in lectures, provision of course material, guidance and counseling sessions, assignments and projects’ supervision as part of the attainment of course learning outcomes.

It was also recommended that in case of some remote areas and access issues, those students who were unable to attend online sessions specified for a course should have an opportunity to access course material and join counseling sessions as specified by the course instructor through email/WhatsApp. The university can also decide to give them a chance for semester freeze or makeup classes during summer as soon as a normal academic session is resumed.

The committee further proposed that as the universities are autonomous they can revise their academic calendar as required and formulate policies to ensure quality, maintenance of minimum requirements for online education and revision of assessment and grading policy for assignments/quizzes, midterm, and final exams.

It was also decided that in case of practicals, lab work, and projects the faculty members are advised to provide online guidance and advice to the students so that they can complete their practical work and projects on the resumption of an academic session.  t was agreed that institutions like UET Lahore and Virtual University that already have good Learning Management Systems (LMS) can help other institutions. A subcommittee is constituted to work out the software and hardware requirements of universities.

Issues of storage capacity, bandwidth, and hardware were also discussed to get support from HEC and PITB.

It was decided that PHEC will work with HEC and HED to update on policy matters and check with universities in order to evaluate their needs of IT infrastructure, automation, assessment, and LMS to assess financial requirements for inclusion in the next financial year budget.

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