Online lessons are challenging, say students

JOHOR BARU: Students here are finding it challenging to keep up with their online classes under the new norm, as schools and higher education al institutions continue to be closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nur Yasmine Hanie Mohd Yunus, 20, said she did not expect her first semester as a university student at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) in Skudai here to be such “a unique experience”.

“I was looking forward to life as a university student, staying on campus and participating in various co-curricular activities.

“But under the new normal, I have yet to set foot on campus even though the semester started on Oct 18. Our orientation was also conducted online, ” she said when interviewed.

The student studying for a degree in land administration and development said the lack of face time with her lecturers and coursemates posed a challenge to her, as she preferred to have group study sessions.

“Sometimes when the class is ongoing, our lecturer might encounter some connection problems, causing the session to be disrupted.“Luckily the network coverage in my housing area is fine but a few of my course mates living in rural areas are finding it difficult to get stable Internet connection, especially when it rains.“

They have to go to a cafe or eatery to participate in the classes, ” said Nur Yasmine, adding that she has classes from Sunday to Wednesday.

Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) student Gan Ming Hua, 19, said he found it particularly difficult to catch up with subjects like mathematics, as there was no blackboard for his teacher to show the formula to get the answers.

“Mathematics involves a lot of formulas and calculations that are quite hard to communicate through video calls.“Sometimes I cannot find the answer fast and this is frustrating.

We need to refer to our teacher and classmates separately if we have any doubts after the class, ” he said.Gan added that each online class was for about two hours - longer than usual - and tended to drag on as compared to physical classes, there was no teacher waiting outside to take over for the next class.

“Besides that, students can also choose not to display their image on screen so the teacher cannot be certain if the students are present throughout the online class, ” said the Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar student.

First year accounting student Rhema Seng, 20, said online learning was not very effective for courses like hers, which required hands-on practice.

“There are many details that we need to pay attention to when balancing an account.“For someone who is doing it for the first time, it can get quite confusing because one mistake means the amounts will not tally.

“When my lecturer explains it through video, it sounds fairly easy but when it comes to doing it on our own, that is when we hit a snag, ” she said.

Seng added that some of her friends in other universities are contemplating deferring their studies as it was a challenge to keep up with their online classes.

“Although my college in Johor Baru remains closed, my lecturer took it upon himself to meet up with the students off campus to monitor our studies and progress.

“I appreciate his initiative to help us better understand the lessons. I am also thankful to my coursemates who have been motivating me to persevere in my studies, ” she said.

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