PETALING JAYA: A “teacher-less” online module would not be a bad idea, given recent trends in teaching and learning, say parents groups and educationists.
Given the changing landscape in education, Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim believes that online learning is the way forward and that educators, parents, and children need to keep up with the times.
She said the English learning online module for pre-schoolers from Australia that is being customised for Malaysia is in line with the premise that the teacher’s role as facilitator is becoming more dominant as technology evolves.
“It is timely that devices and connectivity be put in place in order for pupils to fully benefit from the online platform.
“Schools should take advantage as this may be the tipping point for parents to pick one school over another,” she said.
Noor Azimah was referring to Australian High Commissioner Andrew Goledzinowski’s announcement on rolling out an English learning pilot online programme targeted at Bahasa Malaysia speakers who want to learn English during their early education.
Educationist Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said learning through an online platform helps children fill time fruitfully and wisely when parents are at work.“Previously, teachers were the master and the most knowledgeable in the class.
“However, the traditional ‘chalk and talk’ method is no longer effective.”
Siva added that alternative methods are needed for children today.
“They are more technologically savvy and more curious due to exposure to information through technology.
“Some are more fluent in using technology than teachers themselves,” he said, commending the government’s commitment to English language mastery at an early stage.
Montessori Association Malaysia (MAM) president Aisha Zanariah Abdullah said using an online module to teach pre-schoolers English would be a viable option, but only after a “strong foundation” has been laid.
“Online English lessons would be a good integration and supplementary way for them to learn the English language after they’ve developed their five senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch – through multi-sensory learning.
“It is better for pre-schoolers to learn through multi-sensory and face-to-face education first, such as observing and feeling flowers and plants in the garden, as this provides better engagement than online,” she said.
Multi-sensory education is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on learning, and collaborative play.
Aisha, however, stressed that adults must monitor and supervise children on the wide array of content available on the Web.
MAM is a non-profit organisation dedicated to children’s learning.
However, a veteran English teacher who only wanted to be known as Laila said that while learning through an online platform could be effective for children in Australia, it does not jive with the cemented “spoon-feeding” culture in Malaysia.“It would not be an effective way here given that most children often need adults to hold their hand every step of the way.
“Learning online and independently would only work if the child takes his or her own initiative, or is brought up to do so,” she said.