In conversation with Prof. Stephen Wilhite, Vice-President of Academic Affairs and Student Success and Provost at American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK):
What issues did you face while implementing e-learning? How did you resolve these?
The overall transition has been very smooth at AURAK. Students are currently using the software packages that they already know. The IT department has helped to resolve occasional glitches with students’ laptops.
Will e-learning impact the academic performance of students?
Thus far, the academic performance of our students in the online environment has been solid, with some faculty members reporting higher levels of engagement than in the face-to-face classroom.
Do you think universities need to adopt special assessment mechanisms to measure learning outcomes of students during e-learning?
Academic performance of our students in the online environment has been solid, with some faculty members reporting higher levels of engagement than in the face-to-face classroom.
As expected course learning outcomes are unchanged, the assessments only need to be adjusted to the extent that learning activities have been adapted to be more appropriate for the online format and to ensure that online exams are monitored to guarantee academic integrity.
What do you see as AURAK’s most significant strengths?
AURAK’s academic excellence is reflected in the university’s international accreditation by the most rigorous of the US regional accreditors — the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), accreditation of all eight engineering programmes by ABET, the School of Business’ final preparations for its AACSB accreditation visit, and 3+2 options that enable undergraduates to complete a master’s degree at prominent US universities.
Research is an institutional priority, as reflected in the university’s top 10 UAE ranking by QS and top 50 ranking in the Arab world.
Also illustrative of the university’s investment in research is the Ras Al Khaimah Research and Innovation Center, with a focus on sustainable and renewable energy.
Are you planning to launch any new programme this year?
AURAK currently has four new programmes under virtual review for the ministry approval. These include undergraduate programmes in interior design, artificial intelligence and data science and postgraduate studies in infrastructure engineering and sustainable and renewable energy.
Additional new programmes that are under development include a postgraduate diploma in education, a B.Ed programme in early childhood education, a concentration in forensic science, a BA degree in business law, and master’s programmes in cyber security and genetic engineering, as well as new majors in hospitality and tourism and business analytics.