Blended Learning Center (BLC) can be the Role Model for Online Education

Publish: 9:03 PM, April 7, 2021 | Update: 9:03:PM, April 7, 2021

Md. Anowar Habib Kazal
The corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time and the greatest challenge we have faced since the Second World War. Second wave of Corona began to hit in Bangladesh as well as worldwide which effects and paralyzes our normal life. County is now facing Lock Down for second time.

At this pandemic the sector which is facing lockdown in Bangladesh for more than a year is education. Schools, colleges, universities or even their residential halls are still locked down. Online activities are gaining momentum day by day. Educational institutions for their survival are also trying to continue academic activities through online platform. Due to lack of previous practice and incorporation of well equipped modern facilities maximum institutions are facing lot of troubles and obstacles for smooth operation of online academic activities.

But there is an institution, and that’s not in any developed country, rather in this developing Bangladesh, which hasn’t waited much even for a single day to continue its all sorts of academic and administrative activities. That is Daffodil International University (DIU). The greatest weapon that DIU is currently using is its own Blended Learning Center (BLC), Learning Management System (LMS) and Go Edu platform. DIU started using online platform BLC from the day one it faced lockdown. Not only that DIU recognized as Digital University has the earlier experience of conducting classes through online platform since 2013.

100% academic activities of the university are going on in full swing smoothly using the BLC platform which DIU started in 2013. As the teachers and students have earlier experience and are habituated with online platform for the last 8-10 years, so it becomes very easy for them to conduct academic and administrative activities. As a part of complete automation and digitalization, the university has combined the strength of its BLC platform for performing academic activities and Smart Edu for administrative purposes”.

Blended Learning Center (BLC) is the unique digital teaching and learning hub of Daffodil International University. The platform aims to connect teachers and students effectively allowing teachers to track progress of individual students and better facilitate their learning.

Daffodil International University has reputation as the pioneering digital university in Bangladesh. As the process of its digitalization DIU has been developing BLC from 2013 and equipping students and teachers compatible to work with this. An efficient and active team is working for the continuous development and training of teachers and students. Apart from that the academic departments also poured their heart and soul to equip themselves with the tools and technologies available in the BLC platform within the shortest time possible. As a result, Daffodil International University (DIU) had been successfully conducting online classes from the start of Covid-19 pandemic using the BLC platform, LMS, and Go Edu platform.

At the beginning of the transformation to fully online class, there were some problems with the poor internet connection for the students located in remote locations of the country. However, because of the low data functionality of BLC, DIU has overcome the problem within a very short time. Along with it, DIU also worked on collaborating with Grameen Phone and Robi to bring in a low price data package for its students.

At this pandemic, the university has been successfully completing all academic and administrative activities through online and served the majority of its students located in remote locations of the country. Presently the university could successfully accommodate over 29000 users including students, teachers and administrators, Over 7154 courses in the BLC platform with a strong cloud based infrastructure.

BLC is a well structured & robust e-Learning Management System and is a one stop solution to create, organize, communicate & manage courses. BLC is very simple to use & manage for teachers & students with incredibly powerful plug-ins and integrations. The platform comes with a drag and drop Course Builder that helps teachers to publish courses with ease. It is convenient to add or create (link or embed) course materials, new lessons videos, audio, PowerPoint, drive resources, any files from desktop, and even interactive contents. The platform contains over 25 inbuilt features along with hundreds of plug-ins and integrations that extends the possibilities for the teachers to engage their students in multiple and flexible ways.

Quizzes, assignments, forums and online workshops provoke curiosity and make students participate in courses more. It comes with the most advanced quiz creator allowing teachers to set any kind of questions with ability to set timed quiz and track the attempts of the students. With this, the teachers can maintain the quiz quality and integrity of the quiz or examinations. The platform also is integrated with Turnitin Plagiarism checker to present teachers with the originality report of the students’ submissions.

With these many options, teachers are able to set questions to assess the students following Bloom’s Taxonomy so that the teachers can easily identify what level of understanding they (students) are at present and accordingly provide them further guidelines. All assessment results are accumulated automatically to a highly customizable grade book which gives the teachers an overview of how each student is performing in the course. Students can also see their records anytime from there so that they can plan and prepare better for the next assessments. In a word the platform has increased the transparency and integrity for both the students and teachers. The examination section of the university can also track and check these records that allow them to ensure the examination quality and integrity.

The BLC Platform also supports multiple instructors for a single course. This is helpful for teachers to collaborate with one another in preparation for the course and also improve the content quality. Departments can also keep course repositories separately in the platform so that teachers can update their courses from time to time before offering the courses for the new semester. Departments can also check these repositories and provide guidelines to teachers on the improvement scopes.

Moreover, the BLC platform has its own analytics tool with three separate dashboards: Teacher Dashboard, Student Dashboard and Admin Dashboard. With it, the teachers can check the performance of their students and their courses from a single dashboard and get a detailed report on their courses with a few clicks. Similarly, the students can also get insight on their present performance from various courses so that they can prepare well and get organized or take help from their teachers. The Admin Dashboard let the university management gain insight and report on the overall performance and activities of the platform allowing them to ensure teacher and student success. The reports are segmented into useful insight points like active teachers, course completion, teacher engagement, abnormal grades, innovative teachers, active students, at risk students and so on. These reports can also be sorted according to the Faculties, Departments and Semesters. Also it is possible to get reports of a custom period of time.

One of the greatest upsides to teaching online through BLC is that the classes can be easily made visually appealing, with videos from multiple sources like YouTube, google, drive, edpuzzle, H5P interactive content. To create courses for the students, teachers can upload a variety of multimedia files, images, PDFs, docs, excel sheets and so on. Teachers also can assign custom badges based on the activities in the courses. Students find it very encouraging and rewarding to engage in the course activities to earn those badges.

Students can interact freely with the problem discussion forum sections, where they can comment and ask questions to the teachers, students can also review, rate and give feedback on their courses. Teachers also take periodic feedback and surveys from the students from within the BLC platform.

The BLC platform is currently based on an intellectually designed cloud infrastructure suggested by both locally and internationally recognized experts which enables the students to learn regardless of their remote location or internet connectivity and makes learning interactive and lively. In the recent semester DIU teachers have initiated a total of 1647 courses through the BLC platform where over 16000 active students are engaged and continuing their studies online. The university also has the technology to conduct various learning webinars aiming to develop both teachers and students and through which students get the opportunity to have classes with world’s renowned professors.

It is Daffodil International University (DIU), relentlessly striving for the betterment of higher education in national and international levels. One of the challenges that private universities face is regarding credibility, transparency and validity. The university is continuously excelling in world rankings with its education and researches. Even at this pandemic situation, still Daffodil International University is running with its usual pace, even faster.

Lots of students fear about session jam in the coming future. But, DIU has inspired other institutions to run the operations even in this crisis. Not only the academic, any institution can be encouraged by its effort like SmartEdu. In the next challenging New Normal world, where even survival might be a big factor, Daffodil International University is committed to build its students as fully fitted with entrepreneurial mindset and technological expertise. The University is indeed leading the country’s education from the front during the pandemic. DIU is now getting ready to contribute in Udemy, CourseEra etc. famous online learning platforms. It is therefore progressing beyond national boundary and to contribute worldwide.

Md. Anowar Habib Kazal, Senior Assistant Director (Public Relations), Daffodil International University