THE Covid-19 health crisis has pushed all sectors to rapidly adapt to the new normal and develop innovative solutions under these radically changed circumstances.
For the education sector, technology-enabled teaching and learning is definitely the practice now and this is no exception for Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar (KTJ) in Mantin, Negeri Sembilan.
KTJ principal Dr Glenn Moodie shared that the pandemic has given the international school opportunities to speed up its digital transformation project, in line with the school’s Vision 2030 strategic plan.
“It is our goal to explore opportunities in emerging digital learning and to develop our students’ digital citizenship, alongside delivering a digital plan which enhances learning, strengthens relationships within our community, and extends our reach, ” he said.
Moodie applauded the school’s teachers and students for their swift adaptation to the change.
“Among our teachers, as in any school, there was a range of experiences but what the movement control order period did was encourage all teachers to explore technological solutions further.
“It led to a great deal of sharing of good practice among teachers and this good practice is now being used in the classroom as well.
“What’s more, the MCO period led to the school purchasing a range of hardware and software to aid teachers and students with the learning process. These are now being used online and in the classrooms, ” he said.
Leveraging on technology
Leveraging on the flexibility of technology, KTJ has continued the use of software put in place during MCO such as Google Classroom, which teachers use to set tasks and students to submit work.
Other software being used for most lessons allows teachers to mark students’ work and for online feedback.
KTJ will introduce in January 2021 its Bring Your Own Device Policy for its secondary school students, when every student is expected to bring a laptop or tablet to classes, while the provision of devices in the primary school will be enhanced.
KTJ believes that digital literacy is a critical aspect of a young person’s schooling, which is in line with the school’s continuing commitment to ensure all students are as fully prepared as possible for the world beyond the school gates.
“Innovations in education are significant but it is also important to get these innovations right and to ensure a balance.
“At KTJ, we are not afraid to adapt and flex as we need to, and to learn from our experiences.
“At the same time, we take online security extremely seriously and e-safety is something which we will ensure students are well-educated on. This is backed up by safeguards on the network, ” Moodie emphasised.
More than just online lessons
At KTJ, the holistic development of students takes centre stage and this is brought to life through access to over 100 extra-curricular activities (ECAs) available to students.
As teaching and learning transitioned online, so did the ECAs to help students remain engaged and curious.
“The teachers worked hard to put together a range of virtual ECAs for students in the primary and secondary school, as well as their families who were invited to attend specially curated parent webinars and family quiz nights, ” said Moodie.
In the primary school, daily three o’clock club sessions provided a range of activities for students like book reading, music sessions, sports sessions and house challenges to promote team spirit among students.
Secondary school students enjoyed enrichment evenings which included debates, documentary analysis, talks by alumni, university preparation guides and more.
“The well-being of our students and staff is important to us and we also provided counselling services via Zoom. In addition, our counselling team sent out a survey to all students and staff to gauge their emotional and mental wellbeing, and to provide relevant guidance and advice to those who needed it, ” said Moodie.
Students’ point of view
Head girl prefect Kesha Menon, 18, initially found the transition to remote learning during MCO challenging, but she quickly adapted to the new way of working thanks to the support from her teachers and by keeping up with her hobbies.
“The transition was a little difficult at first, but the teachers were very accommodating. It did not take very long for me to adapt to the new schedule, and learning from home was an interesting challenge.
“Many of our extra curricular activities were moved online, which meant technology helped us to stay connected. In my opinion, hobbies are very important and so I also did not find it difficult to tear myself away from the screen to read a good book, ” shared Kesha.
On the other hand, tech-savvy head boy prefect Bryan Cheong, 18, would always step up and help his classmates and teachers whenever they face technical issues during class.
“Studying online was just a lot more tiring with no classmates physically near me. With the current restrictions in place for sports and social activities, it is not easy to strike this balance of screen on and off time as I’m sure that most of us are looking at our devices for a longer period than usual.
“But in school, I have seen more students going for walks and jogs, even if they have to do it alone, which makes me really happy as the school’s cross country and athletics captain.
“In KTJ, we would always strive to be a well-rounded student to maintain the balance of academics, sports and leisure which is a key point to a healthy lifestyle, ” said Cheong.
Virtual open day
The 32ha school campus nestled in Mantin boasts three decades of heritage with strong support from its board of trustees led by its chairman Tunku Naquiyuddin ibni Almarhum Tuanku Ja’afar.
Currently, KTJ Secondary has about 800 students while KTJ Primary has about 200 students, with over 100 teaching staff members comprising 48% internationally-trained teachers.
KTJ is organising a Virtual Open Day on Nov 28 for both primary and secondary schools. On this day, parents can go on a live, virtual tour of the campus, hear from the principal and get to speak with academic heads about the curriculum.
Another highlight is KTJ’s 30th anniversary grant, worth up to RM30,000 for new students who enrol for the January 2021 intake.
For more details on the grant, visit https://www.ktj.edu.my/1606/admissions/30th-anniversary-grant. For more details on what KTJ has to offer, go to www.ktj.edu.my.
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