As with other countries in the world, universities in Cambodia are also facing temporary closure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only a few of these universities have experiences in implementing online courses, while most of them have only started exploring how to implement online teaching. The DOL4U team from the Faculty of Education and Human Development at The Education University of Hong Kong conducted an interactive online workshop for more than 70 higher education policymakers, university leaders and lead teachers (from across 10 discipline areas) from six leading universities in Cambodia. They are Institute of Technology of Cambodia, The Royal University of Agriculture, The Royal University of Phnom Penh, Svay Rieng University, University of Battambang and University of Heng Samrin Thbongkhmum. The Director General of Higher Education, His Excellency Mak Ngoy, was present to grace the event. Dr. Bunlay Nith, the Deputy Director General of Higher Education, co-led and facilitated the online learning workshop.
The online workshop started with ice breakers to share participants’ concerns for families and students’ learning during this pandemic. All participants discussed in the break-out rooms of ZOOM before reporting back in the main session. Next, the participants were engaged in using online applications to promote interactivities in online lessons. For example, Mentimeter for polling, Padlet for collaboratively sharing of views under the guidance of the facilitators. All participants were left amazed by the interactivities that were possible for an online synchronous session.
The DOL4U team also presented steps for planning and implementing synchronous and asynchronous online lessons, and introduced useful free-of-charge online applications with different levels of interactivity. The participants actively raised questions and discussed how to design more interactive online activities, how to address unstable internet access with asynchronous online lessons, and how to make the DOL4U website more effective to support the professional development of their university teachers.
This online workshop not only engaged Cambodian policymakers, university leaders and teachers in online teaching and learning from the students’ perspectives, but also offered tips and applications for planning and implementing their own online lessons. The DOL4U website will be localized by the Directorate General of Higher Education with five of the universities, and the lead teachers in these universities will then conduct professional development workshops to support university leaders and teachers to explore online teaching and learning and build their capacity for distance and online learning.