E-learning to stay as pandemic changes education landscape

When tuition centres had to close during the circuit breaker, tutor Lim Wei Yi felt like he had changed jobs to become a TV host.

He had no choice then but to present his lessons on Zoom to his audience of students online.

Lim, who co-founded the Study Room tuition centre, had been making plans for at least a month in anticipation of school closures and stricter measures to curb the pandemic, but did not expect that teaching classes online could be so mentally and physically tiring.

“I would end my classes at 6.30pm, and by 7pm or 8pm, I would be knocked out, ” he said.

“Parents sometimes ask, is there a price difference between physical classes and online classes?

“We don’t offer a lower price because actually, the online class is more tedious than the physical class, and it doesn’t mean that we give less attention to the students.”

Despite the challenges, Lim retained the online classes as part of hybrid lessons, even when the centre was allowed to reopen in phase two.

This mirrors how e-learning in schools will soon be a regular feature for students here.

By next year, blended learning – a mix of face-to-face teaching and home-based learning – will be the reality for students at all levels even after Covid-19 subsides.

Justin Leow, tutor and head of centre and teaching excellence at The Learning Lab, said one advantage of online lessons is the flexibility they offer.

Students can save on travelling time and log in to Zoom from school or from home, he said, allowing them to “squeeze more into the day and get more things done”.

“The challenge, of course, is that they’re all doing this in a synchronous fashion.

“The teacher is in class, not only facing the students physically, but also facing students learning from home, ” he said.

While in-person teaching is still his preference, Lim said that holding classes online also gave him the idea of inviting special guests to speak to his students over Zoom.

Last June, his class was able to hear from Rahul Dubey, an American who opened his doors to 80 protesters and sheltered them from the police during the Black Lives Matter protests in Washington.

This would not have been possible in person.

“Just like working from home, I think online classes are here to stay, and if I were to get rid of them, I would be behind the curve, ” said Lim. — The Straits Times/ANN

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