A1: Design and plan learning activities and/or programs of study
One of my duties as a faculty member, is to lead at least one CIS course every academic year. My main responsibility as course team leader (CTL) is to work with my colleagues, who teach the same course across HCT’s seventeen campuses, on revising the current course content, deigning new material, activities, assessments and extra teaching resources. As CTL, the approach that I follow is to review the previous semester’s syllabus design, content & organization as well as teaching and learning assessments, in addition to students’ course feedback and faculty’s course feedback. After compiling all gathered information (K1), I come up with an action plan that states the changes and improvements that should be reflected into the course syllabus for the current semester (K2, V2, V4).
In academic year 2017, I was the team leader for “Cryptography and Network Security” course. I noticed that the course material was focused primarily on the mathematical and theoretical aspect of cryptography without any practical content. I made major changes to the course material, by designing new content that focused more on real world application in cryptography, which allowed students to gain practical experiences in cryptography (K1). Also students were always complaining about the difficulties of some topics such as symmetric encryption algorithms, therefore, I injected several animated videos to replace the textbook PowerPoint slides, to help students understand the structure of symmetric cryptography algorithms such as AES and DES (K2, V2, V4).
I was able to measure the success of the changes I made in the course presented material, from the feedback I received directly form the student after each class during the semester (K4, V1), also by comparing the results of my students with results of the students in previous semester (K6, V2), also the positive feedback from colleague from other campuses, throughout our regular video conference meetings during the semester (K4, V4)
I also develop daily lesson plans for all of my courses. The plan states the lesson objective, topic to be covered and the activities that should be completed (K1). Regularly in the practical courses, I divide the 2-hour class into two sessions (K2); in the first session I present the important information and knowledge in an effective manner by using PowerPoint slides, whiteboard, and videos; while in the second session, I use interactive learning activities, where students take more active role and practically apply the knowledge they gained from the first session. These activities also help them to strengthen their analytic and analytical skills and gain academic confidence.
An example of an effective collaborative learning activity that I used “Cryptography and Network Security” course, was a real world practice, that demonstrates the process to integrate public key certificate with a web server so as to enable secure SSL/TLS sessions (K2,K3). In working on this activity, I divided the class into groups, using prior knowledge from the lecture, along with guideline I provided the students with, each group had to analyze the requirements and generate digitally signed certificates imported to a web server test the connection. I observed that not only were students were keen to work in groups, but that the weak students were actively engaged in their groups (V2)
Upon successful completion of the activity, students in each group were satisfied with the opportunity to practice the activity (K5, V3), which would definitely help them in their information security career in the future. I realized that this was a good approach to be applied in other courses, and I found great personal benefit in the session for my own teaching practice.(V4)
A2 Teach and/or support learning
During my 15 years of experience in academia, I taught a variety of computer information systems courses (K1), and I applied various teaching techniques which helped my students in understating the subject. My choice of teaching style and the design of the teaching resources depend on the subject in which I am teaching, and how well the chosen method helps in developing students’ knowledge and skills (K2).
One of the most challenging tasks for any IT faculty member is to teach fundamentals of programming courses; simply because programing requires logical thinking and reasoning as well as prior knowledge in math that most students lack. I teach one programing course every semester, and Instead of presenting the content on PowerPoints slides I use learning by doing (or live coding) as a course delivery approach (K2, K4). For example in teaching “Fundamental of Programming” course, I create programs in front of students using the lab data-show projector. This approach is very effective for multiple reasons: It makes me be more responsive to student’s questions, also it helps my students see how I detect and correct mistakes. Watching instructors make mistakes shows students that it’s alright to make mistakes of their own. (K5).
The use of technology in classrooms facilitate students learning process (Bingimlas 2009).I used the screencast tool in teaching “Website Technologies “course, and in order to help my students learn Adobe Dreamweaver CC (website authoring tool); it helped me create video recordings of any instructional step-by-step activities I performed on my computer screen. I made all the videos accessible to my students, so they may watch them at their convenience (K3, K4, V1, V2).
To measure the success and the effectiveness of my recorder screencasts, I created an anonymous feedback form on monkey survey website and I asked my students to rate the usefulness of my screencast as a learning tool. The majority of students were satisfied, and asked me to implement it in other courses (K5,V1,V3).
I used the flipped classroom approach in delivering the “Cyber Law and Ethics” course (K1, K2 V2, V3). Students usually find most of the topics covered in this course dry and unpleasant, because they contain too many details and unfamiliar vocabulary. For example I assigned lecture videos about intellectual property one of the toughest topics of the course along with a list of terminology. Students came to the next class having prior knowledge of the content, and more interested in it, moreover class time was dedicated to discussion and exploration of the subject. This style helps students develop their critical thinking, communication skills as well as encouraging student-faculty interaction.
Evaluating students’ performance in various assessments, and their active participation in the class, indicate that the flipped class room method was successful in delivering these kinds of courses (K5, V3). Furthermore, it changed the role of the students from passive learners to active learners
Field trips significantly improve the learning effectiveness of students (Patrick, 2010). Last year I planned an instructional field trip to digital forensic labs at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Abu Dhabi, for my students in “Information Security and Assurance” course. Students had the opportunity to gain experience and to practice using the latest information security tools and equipment, which helped the students to achieve course objectives efficiently (K6 ,K4).
The field trip to (CID) was a successful experience; it improved the students’ understanding of computer crimes and increased their enthusiasm towards the subject. As a result, it increased their overall achievement in the course. (K5, V3, V4). Also the trip gave the opportunity for two of my students to do their 3rd year work placement at (CID).
A3 – Assess and Give Feedback to Learners
I use two types of assessments; summative assessments such as (projects, quiz, oral defense, practical exams and final exams), that evaluate student academic achievement during the semester, and show how students are progressing to achieve specific learning outcomes. I believe that formative assessment indirectly supports and prepares students for the summative assessment (K2, K5, V2). I usually use questioning strategies during my classes (Woolfolk, 2013) as a formative assessment approach; this promotes student interaction and participation in the classroom (V2), and enable them to be active learners. It provides me with an opportunity to assess my students’ knowledge and skills on specific topic (K5,V3), and it helps me to identify if further explanation and clarification is needed on that topics (K1). It also it gives me a clear indication of whether my teaching style is appropriate to cover that specific topic or I should adapt a different teaching strategy (K2).
When I design an assessment, the first thing I consider is to map it with the course learning outcome (K1), I choose assessments that demonstrate the appropriate knowledge and skills I aim for my students to learn (K5), I make clear to my students how each assessment helps them to achieve the course objectives (V1).
For the practical assessment, I create a clear marking scheme and share it with my students, to enable them understand the mark distribution for each task in the assessment (K5, K6, V3). In the “Fundament of programming” course, the student had to develop an application based on specific given requirements. I created a marking scheme that shows the maximum marks allocated to each task in the assessment such as ( creating variable, using datatype, logic , and the correctness of whole program), then I attached it to the exam paper, to help students understand how they are graded
At higher colleges of technology (HCT), a unified final exam runs across the seventeen campuses at the end of each semester, for all taught courses, therefore, I get involved with my colleagues across the system, in the final assessment moderation process for the all courses that I teach. We discuss the weight of each course learning outcome in the exam , the type of questions (selective responses, short answer, essay, etc.), the cognitive level for each questions based on Bloom’s taxonomy cognitive level(Bloom, 1956), the level of difficulty, and the weight of each question. This process helps to ensure that an assessment is valid, reliable, and meets course learning outcomes (K6, K5, V3).
Biggs ; Tang (2007) states that feedback “tops the list of factors leading to good learning”. After every assessment, I give my students general feedback about the assessment. General feedback, shows the main difficulties and weaknesses that the students have with the assessment (K5, V3). Also, I provide comments to my students as part of my feedback; I ensure that all my comments are constructive and positive to encourage students to perform better in the next assessment. Students who want further clarification on my comments, are encouraged to meet me during my office hours; in this way, students receive individual feedback, and feel more comfortable to ask questions about their academic performance (K5, K6, and V1).
I create model answers for each assessment question, by following the used marking scheme, it gives my students the opportunity to compare the model answer with their own answers, and identify their mistakes. (V3,V2, K5). Also it is a good method for giving quick feedback to students, as I do not need to explain to each student same mistakes individually
A4 – Develop effective Learning Environments and Approaches to Student Support and Guidance
I consider creating an enthusiastic and comfortable learning environment as one of my highest priorities to enrich and improve teaching and the learning process in my classes (K6). I believe my first class is the most important class in the semester, it allows me to make a good impression and set the tone for the semester. Usually I introduce myself to the students and share with them my past teaching experience and inform them about of my teaching style (K2,V1), I explain the course goals objectives and schedules, and what students are expected to achieve after completing the course (K3). I also create WhatsApp groups for the section I will be teaching. I think it’s very beneficial in terms of facilitating communication with my students (K2, V1,V2). Last semester, on the final exam night, one student sent me a WhatsApp message, asking me to answer a question, I replied back in voice message with correct answer.
I generally teach the programming courses in full-fledged computer labs that have U shape layout, I find this layout convenient and practical because it helps me to easily work with students one-on-one (K2, V1), it helps student to work in pairs or small groups (V2), and also helps me to connect my computer to the data show for visual displays and multimedia presentations. (K3, K6)
Collaborative learning is an important factor to consider in creating a positive learning environment. For example, I use project based learning PBL in all my practical courses, which allows my students to work in groups, to create solutions or develop applications using the computer. It develops students’ communication skills and promotes their ability to work within a team, also it improves students’ critical thinking, information synthesizing, and problem solving of real-world problems (K3, V2, V4)
I use Blackboard learning management system (K4), where students can access the course’s materials from anywhere and at any time, also it helps students to submit assignments, do online assessments and find information on their progress (K3, K5,V3). Additionally it helps me as a teacher to keep track of useful information such as, the time spent completing a specific assessment, and student’s results statistics. With all this information available, I can improve students’ performance by finding the weaknesses in their knowledge (K3, K6), and also improve my teaching effectiveness (K2).
I provide special consideration for students with learning difficulties and special needs, by creating a supportive learning environment that help them to succeed (V1). Two years ago, I taught two students suffering from Dyslexia, I used a special strategy to accommodate their needs, for example, I allowed them added time to complete their exams, I provided them with wide computer screens in my labs to help do practical tasks (K4), and I scheduled several meetings with them during the semester to discuss their progress (V3). At the end of the semester, both students managed to pass my course. The lesson I learned from working with these two cases was that constant support and encouragement towards special needs students, regardless of their condition, enables them to overcome all learning difficulties (K1, K2).
Ever since I joined HCT, twelve years ago, my student-faculty evaluations have been always above 90% (K1,K2,K4,V3). Personally, I consider student faculty evaluation an important criteria that should be taken into account, because it helps to measure my effectiveness in facilitating and supporting the learning process. Although my evaluation rate is high, I always consider the students comments that point out areas where I need to improve. Student faculty evaluation is also a good practice for students that make them feel engaged as learners in the educational process (V2).
A5 – Engage in Continuing Professional Development in Subjects/Disciplines and their Pedagogy, Incorporating Research, Scholarship and the Evaluation of Professional Practices
I have attended many courses and workshops on using technology in learning. In 2015 I attended “Professional Online Instructor course”. The goal of this course was to help me develop an online teaching methodology and the effective use of a virtual classroom, at the end of the course, I designed an online lesson and delivered it to all other participants using a virtual classroom tool (K1).
Additionally, last year I attended “Designing Mobile Friendly Courses” course that aims to use different collaborative educational technologies such as Padlet and Wimba, to create course content for the mobile devices that can be accessible to students anywhere anytime (K6). Right after the course, I integrated Padlet with the college Blackboard system, and I used it in my “Cyber law and ethics” course (K1,K4), I asked my students 2 days before the class to use Padlet to post their comments on the subject of computer privacy. Students started to post their ideas, they were also able to comments on each other’s posts (V2), and I was able to find out what knowledge my student already had on the topic, which helped in planning my lesson (K2). The students appreciated the experience, and many of them used their smartphones and tablets in writing their comments (K5, V3)
I have received many professional industry certificates; in 2013 I obtained Professional project management PMP certificate (K6), which enriched my knowledge and skills in the project management field , and reflected positively in teaching “Project Management” course (K2,V4), and also helped me to participate in designing the content of “Advanced project management” course(K1). In 2015, I obtained IBM AppScan certificate (k6) that deepened my information security concepts and models, and also allowed me to embed new IBM technology within “Information Assurance” course resources (K1)
Professional development is an ongoing process; as an IT lecturer, I need to keep myself up-to date on the latest technologies related to information security as well as on teaching and learning best practice methodologies. I constantly read articles, cases, and journal and research papers, my readings mainly focus on cyber security, that help me to be competent in information security field (K1). Every semester, I read many articles on the latest computer crimes and cyber-attacks, this help me to create case studies to share with my information security students, based on the latest real world incidents (K2).
Regular discussions and exchanging ideas on how to improve the teaching styles teaching and learning between colleagues is an effective way for CPD (K1, K2). Last semester, I was discussing with my colleague the troubles my students face in “Fundamental of Programming” course, in installing, configuring and maintain Microsoft visual studio on their local machines. She advised me to use “repl.it”, a web-based programming environment (K3), my students are using “Repl.it” this semester, where no setup is required, and they are help doing coding online and they collaborate together in real time (V2,V3)
I strongly believe that attending academic conferences, is very useful for my teaching career, as it helps me stay in touch with the latest updates in my field and in networking with my peers ,In 2017 I attended “The ITT 2017 on Current Trends in Information Technology” Conference which was held in Alain, UAE. I contributed to this conference by reviewing 2 papers that were submitted to the conference (V4). In 2016, I attended the” 9th e-Crime & Information Security congress” in Abu Dhabi; during this event I had the opportunity to stay current in the information security field, by attending different presentations, that helped me to improve my own skills and knowledge about my field (K1, K2)