“What I like most about UNIO is the flexibility to upgrade and customise it.” Dr. Rima Abdulrazzak of the Arabian Gulf University (AGU), is one of the many teachers using Unio and working closely with devices of Harness, one of our 2014 OEC Alumni. Harness is an ed-tech start-up that has developed a product called Unio - a real-time collaboration and education delivery platform targeted at diverse learning settings like schools, universities and corporate classrooms. Leveraging on live networking of devices, Unio provides a powerful opportunity for knowledge dissemination and provides innovative pedagogies around it. Unio has been successfully deployed in schools and universities in seven countries. The insights given by Dr. Rima Abdulrazzak highlight some of the best practices of Harness.
Working in a paper-free environment
“I feel that the introduction of technology at AGU for educational purposes is essential at this stage, as the education system in many countries is now witnessing a paradigm shift from the traditional teaching methodologies to digitising the pedagogical approach through technical devices. Boredom with the traditional means of teaching in class compromises students’ attendance in the classroom; however, use of technology tools, laptops in particular, can be encouraging and have a positive effect on student attention and learning, if these tools are used for course-related, instructional purposes.
UNIO is the operating system adopted newly for blended learning at the College of Medicine and Medical Sciences (CMMS) at AGU. The initiative for implementing this system as an educational tool developed from the university accreditation requirements of embracing electronic learning strategies at AGU. It is not utilised in traditional lectures; however, it is applied to Problem-based learning (PBL) tutorial sessions with an instructor and 10 students. This technology has the advantage of providing a paperless teaching environment in class, and it presents the advantages of extra annotations on the screen which can be accessible from home. In class, embedding of images and YouTube videos is a bonus too.
Displaying embedded images, diagrams and other illustrations for students encourages them to embrace this technology, especially since hard copies of images or diagrams sometimes offered to students may not be clear or appealing. Especially in medical colleges, displaying clear presentations of X-ray images, scans and pathological specimen/sections is important for students to distinguish between healthy and diseased samples. I also feel that this technology increases students’ levels of engagement and interaction between them during tutorial sessions and maximises the ease and clarity in the transmission of information.”
The impact of Unio on one’s teaching method
“The challenges with implementing UNIO at CMMS, AGU arise mainly from the various technology competencies among the staff members. In addition, at present, not all tutors have trained to use UNIO, because some are very resistant to change. Even those who did train sometimes choose to abide by the paper method of tutorials. This arrangement of maintaining papers as a backup for problems that might arise is compromising the usage rate of UNIO at CMMS, AGU, and some tutors defend their lack of interest due to their fear of technical problems arising during the tutorial sessions.”
Despise such defiance from some, the changes and transformations the disruptive innovation Unio and others represent are more and more integrated within the teaching methods of teachers. Check more on the best practices, changes and outlooks of Unio on their website!