HOW does one get students interested in online learning during the Covid-19 pandemic?
To this, UOW Malaysia KDU academic department head Leong Mi-Chelle simply said “play”.
She went on to say that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, but work and play together make Jane a happy girl”.
Prior to moving to online learning due to the pandemic, Leong frequently played language games with her students so that they could practise their language skills in a less intimidating space.
“Such learning games tend to make the students feel more at ease and they are more willing to open up and use English without fear.
“This also helps to foster a closer relationship among the students, and a more positive and supportive learning community is created,” said Leong, who is also a senior English course lecturer.
Leong said that UOW Malaysia KDU advocates a student-centric learning environment, whereby the focus of instruction is placed on the students so that they can become the decision makers and guiding force in the learning process.
“This will allow students to make shared decisions, and at the same time build their ability and make them more confident.
“In turn, this will potentially make them better leaders and lifelong learners who can independently solve problems.“We take the students’ learning experience to heart, and we want to make learning a fun learning experience,” she said.
As a proponent of active learning, Leong also embraces ‘gamification’ in learning as this makes learning fun.
“Most of the time, students view tertiary education as academically serious.
“The current challenge especially in remote learning is maintaining student interest and engagement.
“Gamifying learning is one of the many ways of increasing student engagement,” she asserted during a recent webinar conducted in collaboration with the Education Ministry’s English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC) to share about Genially, a useful tool for creating engaging and interactive learning games.
Gamification is the incorporation of game design and features into non-game activities. Just like in games, the participants are the players who go through various challenges to collect points and badges to gain a ranking.
Leong said through gamification, learners are not only engaged in the activities, but also motivated and supported in embedded tasks.
“Research showed that gamification has a positive effect on the achievement of learning outcomes because play has been the main ingredient for learning since childhood.
“Play allows a learner to explore new things and also practise their skills while managing their emotions as they work through conflicts with others, and these are crucial life skills that everyone needs for the future.
“There must also be cautions because while playing is the most natural way of learning, the intention to make learning fun through gamification must be clear and aligned to the intended learning outcomes, or one would risk being accused of making fun of learning,” she said.
Those interested in trying out the games created by Leong, can check them out at https://bit.ly/geniallyjoblessnot
UOW Malaysia KDU is part of the University of Wollongong Australia’s global network.
It has a long history of providing accessible, quality, tertiary education to Malaysia, and the surrounding regions, as it was previously known as KDU college and university colleges.
UOW Global Enterprises, a wholly-owned subsidiary of University of Wollongong Australia, acquired the KDU institutions in September 2019.
Following a process of transformation, it integrated them into the University of Wollongong Australia global network of campuses located in Australia, Dubai, Hong Kong, and now here in Malaysia.