Curtin Malaysia’s Dean of Learning and Teaching keynote speaker for Indian forum

Miri – 17 July 2021 – Professor Beena Giridharan, Dean of Learning and Teaching at Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia), had the honour of being a keynote speaker for the Faculty Development Programme (FDP) organised by the prestigious Chandigarh Business School of Administration in Chandigarh, Punjab, India recently.

The Chandigarh Business School of Administration is a college under the Chandigarh Group of Colleges (CGC), a premier institute offering courses in engineering, biotechnology, computer application, management, education, pharmacy and hotel management.

The week-long FDP on ‘Innovative Trends in Teaching and Learning Process and Research Methods in accordance with Industry Requirements’ was attended by over 100 faculty members from different departments of CGC.

International and national experts in the area of teaching and learning were invited to apprise the faculty members of the importance of the e-learning environment and how these digital modes are helping the education sector to cope with the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Delivering her speech remotely from Malaysia, Professor Beena alluded to the great changes occurring in the higher education sector, the number of factors affecting this change, as well as how the higher education sector is responding to the changes.

She said convergence of new technologies allow for numerous learning modalities and scaling of content delivery and learning. There is also the emerging global competition and diverse demographic student profiles and changing expectations of university experience corresponding to the offering of new courses. The COVID-19 pandemic as accelerated these changes, compelling universities to adapt to the emerging technologies and pedagogies required for effective learning and teaching.

Professor Beena shared practical examples for adapting pedagogical approaches in classrooms, taking into account that restrictions on human contact could impact students’ personal wellbeing and ability to study, and the need to understand personal circumstances of academics and students.

In terms of the latest trends in research and development at universities, Professor Beena recommended closer industry-academia collaboration to generate best outcomes and solve local and international problems. For example, Curtin University in Australia is collaborating with Optus, the telco company, to start Western Australia’s first 5G laboratory. Similarly, Curtin Malaysia is collaborating with major industry partners who fund and support research facilities and equipment for achieving translational research outcomes.

Professor Beena’s role as Dean of Learning and Teaching focuses on fostering excellence in learning and teaching practices, research and innovation at Curtin Malaysia. Her area facilitates professional development programmes for academic staff and learning support programmes for students, fosters communities of practice for blended and online learning, and coordinates learning and teaching related research projects.

She has been instrumental in Curtin Malaysia’s leadership in Distributed Learning (DL), which is a cornerstone of learning at Curtin Malaysia in line with Curtin University’s ‘Learning for Tomorrow’, a University-wide initiative to transform the design and delivery of education across its campuses in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai and Mauritius.

The University believes that innovative thinking and the use of transformative technologies will enable students to have rich learning experiences, understand real world issues, and help build essential skills that match industry needs. An increasing number of business and engineering units at Curtin Malaysia are being delivered using DL, enabling students and academic staff at the Malaysia and Perth campuses to engage and interact in real time.

Complementing the DL pedagogies are a number of innovative learning spaces that Professor Beena helped to design. Developed since 2015, they are specially configured to increase student engagement, foster collaboration between staff and students, and provide flexible, technology-rich environments for active learning and the development of a digital mindset in students. They include distributed learning rooms, collaborative learning spaces and case study rooms equipped with the latest teaching and learning technologies.

According to Professor Beena, one of the most compelling reasons spurring universities to transform learning spaces is the increasing levels in multi-site transnational education, coupled with major shifts taking place in education pedagogies. This is particularly the case for transnational education (TNE) and offshore branch campuses.

She said one of the reasons why learning spaces must apply technology-enriched approaches to transform learning and teaching is because students have essentially migrated to that space. Virtual learning environments are becoming a norm in many higher education institutions largely due to the fact that social media applications are advancing rapidly in that direction.

Professor Beena’s academic and research interests include vocabulary acquisition in ESL, educational administration and leadership, higher education practices, TNE and ethno-linguistic studies in indigenous communities. As a member of an Office of Learning and Teaching, Australia (OLT) funded project entitled ‘Learning without Borders’, Professor Beena has investigated leadership roles in TNE and internationalisation of the curriculum.

She is also a Fellow of the Curtin Academy, a prestigious active, honorary network of exceptional leaders committed to, and passionate about, the collaboration and dissemination of teaching excellence at Curtin University, as well as a fellow of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) since 2006.

In 2006, Professor Beena won the Carrick Australian Award for University Teaching, and the 2006 Curtin University, Australia Excellence in Teaching and Innovation Award, and was a visiting professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA between 2007- 2008.

In addition, she is an associate editor for the IAFOR Journal of Education, USA; an editorial member for the Journal of Language and Literature; USA, and a reviewer for a number of international journals in higher education. She is often invited as keynote speaker and plenary speaker at a number of higher education conferences regionally and internationally. In 2020, she was appointed Country Director for Malaysia by the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning (HETL), United States.

Professor Beena Giridharan, Dean of Learning and Teaching, Curtin University Malaysia.

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