A new coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, has penetrated all areas of public life, compelling the traditional services to seek new forms and contents. Currently, both government agencies and private companies are taking various measures to prevent the spread of the virus, trying to keep their activities online as much as possible. These new conditions also put new tasks before educational institutions and make it necessary to modernize the educational process.
The announcement of the shutdown of all public and private educational institutions since the first day of the danger of coronavirus in Azerbaijan is one of the most important steps taken to prevent the spread of the virus. In addition, the Ministry of Education's recommendations to use distant education means and the organization of television programs for school students, create a great opportunity for pupils and students to keep up on the academic programs while in quarantine.
Joining this process was no difficulty for the French-Azerbaijani University operating under the Azerbaijan State Oil and Industry University (ASOIU). From the beginning, the direct involvement of foreign professors in teaching made the use of distance learning inevitable. Thus implementation of distant education began already in 2018. According to a decision of the UFAZ Scientific Council dated November 22, 2018, teachers invited from France could cover a part of their courses online.
Since the second semester of the 2018/19 academic year, UFAZ students, all enrolled on the Moodle platform of the University of Strasbourg, have started taking some of their classes through online applications and video conferences.
Distant teaching on the Database, Tectonic Platforms, and Seismology classes was conducted in the form of one-way video lectures and interactive sessions as well as individual online meetings between students and teachers.
At its meeting on May 16, 2019, UFAZ Scientific Council evaluated a one-semester distant education model, while the experts highlighted the following:
- Students will have the opportunity to watch the recorded video lessons again;
- Interactive seminars increase students' interest in the subject;
- Increase students' sense of responsibility as well as develop independent research and learning skills;
Following the successful results of the first semester, UFAZ has continued the distant learning process by inviting professors to provide a balance between distant and classroom teaching load.
Due to the state of emergency in March of this year, the visit of foreign teachers to Azerbaijan was suspended. Therefore, UFAZ is continuing its distance learning experience with local and foreign teachers. Currently, all UFAZ teachers are working to keep up with the education process through tools such as Microsoft Teams. It is also important to note that every student enrolled at UFAZ is provided with personal laptops in their first semester, which enables our students to continue their education at home.
It is worth noting that UFAZ has always been open to the application of new methods and tools not only in education but also in management. As UFAZ Scientific Council is composed of the academic and administrative staff of ASOIU, Strasbourg and Rennes-1 Universities and UFAZ, board meetings are held both physically and online. The next video-conference is scheduled for April 8.