Date: Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Subject: The Ped-Tech Committee
Thank you for everything that you are doing and working beyond the call of duty. These are anxious times for everyone as we navigate the public health crisis and do our best to keep our families, friends, our communities and ourselves safe. On health and safety issues, as you know, we have formed a high-level committee that is being led by the Provost and the Dean of Students. Much is already underway and we will continue to improve our efforts.
Similarly, the teaching and learning issues in front of us pose considerable time-sensitive challenges. They also provide an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen the way we assess learning and improve our teaching. Accordingly, we have created a high level Ped-Tech Committee, with several members chaired by Dean Sabieh. This committee will be sharing its terms of reference and a framework that allows LUMS to make thoughtful and considered decisions for the systematic coordination of a broad learning and teaching implementation framework.
The committee will, among other tasks first take stock by rapidly procuring data from all Schools and the RO regarding approximately 340 classes that are currently being offered this semester. This data will include average class sizes for graduate and undergraduate programs, the types of assessments underway, graduating students, and more.
Following a discussion on assessment, the committee is also thinking about how teaching can continue in hybrid and online modalities. To ensure system-wide solutions, the Committee will recommend how the majority of assessments can be carried out and how teaching can be conducted for the remainder of the semester through robust, time-tested and relatively easy to implement set of alternatives.
The committee feels, and we fully agree, that we must coordinate our response to ensure quality across the board. As mentioned, our choices should therefore seek to improve learning outcomes and the student experience. We know that one out of two students worldwide have already taken online courses. Nobody wishes to reinvent the wheel but as we consider hybrid and online-solutions, the good news is that quality instruction can be accomplished with low-tech approaches.
Adoption and diffusion of technology interventions is also a function of coordinated solutions (for example, using one LMS which affords a range of available tools students become familiar with). As we already have Sakai, which is as good as any LMS one can find in the marketplace, the committee will be advocating for its widespread use. Similarly, low resolution, light band-with solutions including, email, slides, voice, etc., will be some of the alternatives that will become part of the standard toolbox. While the committee encourages unique and out of the box tech solutions, for the moment, we ask you to refrain from implementing novel approaches until you hear about system-wide alternatives that the Committee will recommend.
To emphasize, given the short timeframe, the Committee will help in providing centralized guidelines that are robust, low tech and relatively easy to implement. We cannot have 340 individualized solutions. As the Committee provides categories of a handful of alternatives for assessment and for teaching, they will also prioritize categories of class size, graduating students, etc. In addition, the Learning Institute and IT will play a critical support role and provide several offerings including webinars, workshops and training. Stay tuned for their offerings.
You can be sure that the Ped-Tech committee will be looking for your ideas and your full participation. Meanwhile, we want to thank Dean Sabieh for leading this effort and for all committee members who have stepped up at for now. We are confident that leadership for this committee will not only improve our offerings at LUMS but also showcase a way forward for other Universities in Pakistan.
Thank you for your patience as we will continue to provide updates and regroup to meet again soon.
Arshad and Kamran