By Gwyneth Ramsey
“Teaching students is not only about providing them with theoretical knowledge, but also providing them with exposure to useful experiences that can build their professional character and enhance their self-confidence,” Hamza Al Duraidi said.
Al Duraidi is a full-time faculty member at the University of Jordan’s School of Nursing and a participant in The Stevens Initiative Virtual Exchange Program for Nursing. His experience with online learning consists of teaching nursing courses using a blended learning method, where half of the sessions are conducted virtually and half are conducted in person. Al Duraidi said the virtual exchange program introduces more challenges to online learning such as differences in time zones, technology usage, and academic calendars, but he enjoys the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from other countries.
TIEC’s global collaboration and leadership in higher education has enabled participants like Al Duraidi from universities in Egypt, Jordan, and Texas to engage in a nine-week virtual exchange program. This program was brought to life with a grant from The Stevens Initiative. The Stevens Initiative Virtual Exchange Program for Nursing has internationalized nursing curriculum, connecting universities despite the increased distance created by COVID-19. The exchange will provide nursing faculty with the tools needed to successfully implement a virtual exchange project between faculty and students at universities in Egypt, Jordan, and Texas. Ultimately, students at these universities will develop cross-cultural relationships and global perspectives for their future work in the field of nursing.
In the face of COVID-19 and the multitude of challenges it poses to universities worldwide, TIEC’s Virtual Exchange Program allows for increased collaboration despite differences in time zones and continents. The collaboration with students in Texas, Egypt, and Jordan offers a new way to engage students and professors.
Audrey Tolouian, a faculty member at The University of Texas at El Paso’s School of Nursing, had experience in online learning after having completed her masters and doctoral degrees online. This virtual exchange has allowed her to implement the best parts of her learning experience into her curriculum in order to maximize student engagement.
“This will be a wonderful opportunity to introduce [students] to wonderful people from the Middle East and help them to create lasting relationships and break down some of those stereotypes,” Tolouian said. “Incorporating world culture into a course will help the nursing students care for their patients.”
Coming from different cultures means that students will exchange perspectives and ways of thinking about solutions. According to Tolouian, TIEC’s program exemplifies the way questions can be examined through different lenses.
“My favorite part of the experience, really, has been meeting new people from across the world, that are in the nursing field. We are practicing in such different areas of the world, yet the main concept of patient care is shining through,” she said. “The techniques used to get to the outcome may be different, but we all seem to have the same goals for patient care. It has been so rewarding to be able to chat and find new solutions.”
TIEC continues to bring faculty, students, and administrators from around the world together during the COVID-19 pandemic, through a variety of programs ranging from professional development training to Central Asian media exchanges to reimagining education in countries worldwide.