Punjab University College of Information Technology (PUCIT) has decided to avoid academic loss of students, and its faculty strongly agreed to conduct online classes while using Google Hangouts Meet, Google Classrooms and other distant or paper-free online teaching tools.
The decision will address the issue of academic loss of the students and at the same time maximize social distancing to reduce transmission of coronavirus. Almost 90% of the PUCIT faculty and administrative staff joined an online meeting, suggested by Punjab University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr. Niaz Ahmad, via Google Hangouts Meet from their homes.
PUCIT Principal Dr. Muhammad Arif Butt said that the university administration has adopted precautionary measures in the best interest of the students, faculty, and staff in order to maximize social distancing and reduce the transmission of the coronavirus. The agenda of the meeting was to discuss available options to bring academic activities online after the spread of the deadly disease.
According to new rules, the students are not allowed to come to the campus until further orders and minimal staff will be available to meet the necessary services. As far as the faculty is concerned, they will not be called on the campus. However, the faculty is required to remotely engage students in academic activities by giving them recorded lectures, projects, assignments, and even live video sessions where possible.
Dr. Arif Butt said that Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr. Niaz Ahmad has announced that all the classes of the PUCIT, IBIT, electrical engineering, and some other departments are moving online from March 23 and continuing through April 3, 2020. Being in-charge of PUCIT, he said that he strongly encourages all meetings to be moved online while using Google Hangouts Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or Skype.
For this, the faculty is requested to remain available online during office hours from their homes, he said, and also announced that all activities like classes, exams, upcoming job fair, exhibitions, student trips, MPhil/Ph.D. viva-voce exams, and so on are hereby canceled, postponed or moved online till April 4, 2020.
It was also decided that the authorities concerned should be approached for special student discount packages of 4G/3G broadband internet to make these online sessions cheap for the faculty and the students. After his address, the principal opened the online meeting for discussions and suggestions.
After getting input from the faculty, the college has decided that the online lecture duration should be of one hour. However, to give a gap between two sessions, the time table will be the same, i.e. 90-minute class. Since Google Hangouts Meet offers a class size of over 200, therefore the faculty may take one combined session for both morning and afternoon students, where possible.
Principal Dr. Arif Butt appreciated the dedication of the faculty and the staff in the face of uncertainty. “We recognize that this is a significant adjustment for faculty and students, and we are committed to providing necessary support to help facilitate this effort to all departments of the Punjab University,” he announced.
It is pertinent to mention here that CMS Administrator Muhammad Asim Siddique, who is also webmaster, worked day and night along with other supporting staff to make sure this arrangement possible in due time. Earlier, Asim Siddique was tasked to help automize other departments of the Punjab University.
Initially, departments of chemical engineering and polymer engineering are successfully autmoized. The department staff and faculty are being trained by Asim Siddique. “We will automize around 75 departments of the Punjab University and more than 600 affiliated colleges by equipping them with a campus management system,” he said.