Educator Profile: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Alyani Ismail

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For this month’s Educator Profile, we sat down with Assoc. Prof. Dr. Alyani Ismail from Universiti Putra Malaysia to learn more about her thoughts and experiences with teaching on OpenLearning.

Why did you choose to teach an online course?

Everything in the world is about change. The only thing that is constant is change. I choose to change from traditional to online teaching because we have an option to change either for the better or change for the worse. So in teaching and learning, a change towards the better is a change towards an online course.

What would you say to an educator who is about to start teaching online?

Think simple. We are living in a complex world but think simple and take baby steps – one at a time. Sometimes educators would think that “I have to learn the platform, I have to learn the technicalities, I have to learn how to shoot videos, I have to learn so many tools”. Forget about tools, focus on the planning and design, start with what you have first. If you are comfortable delivering your lectures online, record them and put the videos up. Then you can take another step to add activities in, and then another step by adding assessments in. You start with what you have and end up improving yourself towards delivering a good online course.

What matters the most to your personal approach to teaching and learning?

My personal approach to teaching and learning would be the heart. If I can catch the heart or if I can catch the interests of the students in the beginning, the rest will follow. They will have the mind, body and soul to follow the whole course.

How do you keep your courses fun and fresh?

I was teaching an Engineering course and I added an Indian song called “Antenna”. Students were surprised and found it to be very fun. They didn’t expect an Engineering lecturer to do that! Everybody loves surprises and you can give surprises to students. If you have the time and the will, you will do great things for your students.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Alyani Ismail is the Deputy Director of Innovation in Teaching and Learning at the Centre for Academic Development (CADe), Universiti Putra Malaysia. E-Learning, innovative teaching, open education resource, integration of technology in T&L as well as Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) at UPM falls under her portfolio. She is also a Professor under the Faculty of Engineering.

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