Calls to resume hybrid learning


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Academics, students prefer flexible mode

COVID-19 has forced students of all age groups to embrace what is now often called “the future of education”, also known as e-learning.

For tertiary students, this may not entirely be a new concept as most universities and colleges practise a hybrid model of learning.School students, however, have had to learn and adapt to the concept over the last two years.

And with the latest Omicron Covid-19 strain causing some 62 infections in the country as of Dec 25, 2021, academics are of the view that the hybrid learning model should continue.

Universiti Utara Malaysia College of Arts and Sciences School of Education senior lecturer Dr Muhammad Noor Abdul Aziz said flipped classrooms should be reconsidered as a method of learning in schools.

Students are currently entering schools on a rotational model, with those assigned to home-based teaching and learning (PdPR) receiving homework from their teachers.

Muhammad Noor said instead of doing that, teachers could give students tasks and projects to do and when it’s their turn to return to school the following week, they could do a presentation on their projects.

“This flipped classroom approach helps teachers in their assessments as it will only be a small group at one time.

“Both universities and schools can adopt this because many students still face Internet connectivity issues.

“By using this approach, those who are assigned to online learning don’t necessarily have to completely rely on the Internet as project-based learning can be innovated in many ways, including empowering students to make use of their textbooks, academic articles or even physical newspapers,” he said. Although hybrid learning methods such as flipped classrooms may be a safer option in light of the latest Covid-19 variant, Muhammad Noor said we must learn to live with the virus.

Muhammad Noor: Flipped classrooms should be reconsidered as a method of learning in schools.Muhammad Noor: Flipped classrooms should be reconsidered as a method of learning in schools.

“It’s a matter of how we bridge the gaps in our learning and adapt to the new while innovating old ways.

“We cannot completely rely on online nor on face-to-face learning. This is where having a plan, such as embracing hybrid methods, is important.”

His sentiments are echoed in a nationwide online survey by Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) Tun Tan Cheng Lock Centre for Social and Policy Studies (TCLC) which showed that out of 520 respondents aged between 16 and 30, 69.7% said online teaching and learning have been effective (see infographic).

Additionally, at least 97.5% of them are able to adapt to some aspects of the new normal brought about by the pandemic.

The survey, which stretched over two weeks last September, showed that while 67.9% said online teaching and learning or working from home is the biggest disruptor in their lives, 71.7% of them said they would strictly adhere to these new norms.

Focusing on how youths of this age group were coping with life after the outbreak of the virus, the survey consisted of 88.1% of respondents who are still studying, and 11.9% who have completed their studies.

TCLC chairperson Dr Chin Yee Mun said after two years of adapting to and using the online learning model, students have adjusted to the new normal of spending more time studying via a screen than being in class physically.

Chin: After two years of adapting to and using the online learning model, students have adjusted to the new normal of spending more time studying via a screen than being in class physically.Chin: After two years of adapting to and using the online learning model, students have adjusted to the new normal of spending more time studying via a screen than being in class physically.

“Youths are now more accepting of online learning, but they are also aware that certain aspects of these new norms, such as having physical meetings to discuss their studies or work matters, may sometimes be more effective in person,” he said.

Online learning should therefore be continued but he explained that a more effective method would be to blend the physical and virtual aspects so as to adopt a more hybrid approach.

TCLC researcher Kenneth Lee Tze Wui, who is a lecturer at UTAR’s Faculty of Creative Industries, Mass Communication Department, told StarEdu that upon speaking to the respondents, he found that most of them are happy with online learning despite their grouses over their Internet connection.

“Overall, we found that respondents are coping well with these new norms.

“Because respondents in this age group have higher digital awareness due to their exposure to the Internet from a young age, they can cope with changes to their norms, such as online learning, better.

“But we cannot negate the fact that ultimately, some students still prefer face-to-face lessons after two years of staring at their laptop screens.

“There are also cohorts of university students who have yet to experience campus life as the pandemic hit just as they were starting their pre-university programmes,” he shared.

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