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Two-Day conference explores new methods for effective teaching in higher education
2/12/2017
Dana Abed  |  Office of Advancement  |  media@aub.edu.lb  | 
Two-Day conference explores new methods for effective teaching in higher education

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The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) in collaboration with the Office of Information Technology and the Communication Skills Program at the American University of Beirut (AUB) organized the Seventh International Conference on Effective Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. The conference, which took place at AUB on February 10 and 11, brought together prominent speakers and international faculty members to share their insights on effective teaching and learning at the university level.

Associate Provost Hala Muhtasib thanked the parties involved in organizing this event during her speech at the opening ceremony and highlighted AUB's mission of providing excellence in higher education in the region and beyond.

Dr. Muhtasib explained that the conference included 12 sessions, 36 presentations, four workshops, and two keynote speeches, providing “practical skills and evidence on how to improve higher learning."

Attending the conference were faculty members and interested individuals from eight local universities across Lebanon, as well as from universities in Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

The first keynote speech was delivered by Dr. Chris Anson, professor of English and director of the Campus Writing and Speaking Program at North Carolina State University. The speech, “Writing as a High Impact Practice: Toward an Ecological Model of Writing and Learning," discussed effective ways of integrating writing as a method of learning rather than a subject to be taught.

After noting that writing skills are getting worse amongst students in college, Dr. Anson detailed an ecological model whereby writing is mandatory to grasp the information given in any course. For example, students should practice writing by summarizing readings in Sociology or by explaining equations in Mathematics.

Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) is a practice that was first inaugurated in the 1970s, but is slowly being built up in colleges around the world. Although not fully developed, it is clear that WAC is helping students improve the quality of their writing, and slowly erasing the common belief that writing should be exclusive to literature studies.

Dr. Anson invited all faculty members to move towards an ecological model that covers a wider range of uses for writing. Anson explained that writing should be a tool for better learning, and a skill developed by all students irrespective of their major.

The second keynote speech was delivered by Dr. Youssif Asfour, Chief Information Officer at AUB. The speech, entitled “Technology in an Era of Transformation in Teaching and Learning" discussed how technology can help professors improve the knowledge acquisition of students.

With change being the only constant nowadays, Dr. Asfour explained that he had to rethink the information he learned throughout his career. Things learned can become obsolete overnight, and things thought to be impossible can become possible in no time. In an era of rapid change, technology provides us with real-time access to information.

Technology is helping teachers find new ways of communicating with students and deliver content in a new way, such as through internet searches, blended courses, or online courses.

According to Dr. Asfour, teaching needs to shift focus from providing information to learning how to search for information and how to synthesize knowledge. This era calls for going beyond critical thinking, toward adaptive thinking. Asfour called for more and better inter-disciplinary coordination and collaboration in order to be adaptive to the emergence of new information.

Dr. Asfour explained that the mission of educators is to explore ways of effectively teaching students to use technology to constantly learn, constantly adapt, work across disciplines, and leverage others.

The sessions and workshops that followed over the two-day conference discussed multiple subjects such as online courses, web design, bilingual teaching, planning and assessment of course learning outcomes, peace education, liberal arts curricula, and student activism.

The conference also aimed at providing opportunities for building professional relationships among members of the community of university faculty members locally, regionally, and internationally.
Story Highlights
  • ​​The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) in collaboration with the Office of Information Technology and the Communication Skills Program at the American University of Beirut (AUB) organized the Seventh International Conference on Effective Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.
 
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