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Education is noble: Why the FHEA?

19 Mar 2018 | Professor Mehraz Boolaky Professor Mehraz Boolaky, Honorary Lecturer Dissertation and Consultancy Project Advisor, University of Liverpool Online Programmes, University of Roehampton/Laureate.

This blog was originally posted on the former Higher Education Academy website.

Mehraz Boolaky earned his MBA and PhD from the University of Mauritius (UOM) and has a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from the Mumbai Institute of Chemical Technology. He has been a Dean of the Faculty of Law and Management at the University of Mauritius and is currently a Professor of Marketing at the Asia Pacific Institute of Management in New Delhi.

Writing this testimony and filling in my application for the Fellowship, I was taken back to my days at school (primary and secondary level) where my aims were always set high and I used to top the classes and helped my peers with their assignments and understanding of difficult concepts. I pursued that philosophy through my graduate education and I still recall how some of my classmates met me on Sundays for group discussions. I secured first class for my engineering degree and topped the MBA class with Distinction. What I draw from that is that I had inherent teaching capabilities from which I developed a real passion for education. I was completely at home when after having taught at secondary school level for six years and practiced management for more than fifteen years, I joined the education sector again at the higher level when I was offered a job at the University of Mauritius, soon after completion of my MBA in 1993. My MBA research experience motivated me to enrol for my PhD in 1994 and successfully completed it in 2000.

In 1995 (at the University of Mauritius) I was among the pioneers for the development of self-study manuals for students on three modules in distance mode and these are still being used today for first year programmes of undergraduate courses, plus General Elective Modules. The reasons for developing these modules were to cut down the time required for the physical presence of students at the University, which was remote from main public transport lines. It was also a strategy to encourage students to take possession of their own learning.

Building on this experience, I have contributed significantly to module reengineering and development in most of the institutions I have worked, the most recent (September 2016) being contracted to act as subject expert and reengineer one post graduate module. I also developed a self-study skills module on Reading a Scholarly Academic paper.  

My current teaching context is with Laureate Online Education that deliver programmes in the UK in partnership with the Universities of Liverpool and Roehampton Online.  These programmes are based upon a facilitative learning model in which faculty are responsible for encouraging students to increase their learning through critical thinking asynchronous discussions. In this context, I facilitate the learning and development of my students in a virtual classroom in the Blackboard platform. I provide both formative and summative feedback. Without appropriate guidance, students might not pay much attention to course and module objectives.  On this basis, continuous feedback that I provide is individualised (each student receives feedback pertaining to his or her performance as an individual) and students are invited to write back if there is anything that was unclear.

In as far as my teaching is concerned, I always referred to my own examples (aim at excellence) and transfer the skills to my students and this quite successfully. I aim to make the learner independent through temporary support while ensuring that students participate and are engaged in the process so that I can withdraw scaffolding assistance when it is no longer required.   I always offer incremental assistance till students take possession of the learning process and can ensure their personal development.

The above is partly extracted from my Fellowship Application form. I must place on record the University of Liverpool/Laureate that encouraged us to apply and provided lots of support including refund of the application fee. I was apprehensive initially, but my mentor was very good and encouraging. The application process helped me to reflect on my rich career and discovered the person in me in a much better way. The more I thought about myself and my involvement in higher education, the more confident I became and even started to see light in the tunnel.

Now that I hold the FHEA (the great news was that after having waited for nearly three months to find out the outcome of my application), I was pleasantly surprised and overwhelmed when I opened my mail on 3rd January 2018 to learn that I was successful!!! I could use FHEA against my name. The SFHEA is my next objective, because of the good feeling we develop after recognition for the hard work and contribution to higher education.

I strongly encourage colleagues to apply as the inner satisfaction is blissful! Teach others to fish rather than giving the fish!

Find out more about Fellowship.

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