Drawbacks to online learning

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 01 Apr 2020

Keeping up: A student from SMK Jerlun using a computer to learn online.

PETALING JAYA: The closure of schools as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak has left teachers and students flocking to online learning platforms and instant messaging apps for teaching and learning.But the process hasn’t been smooth for many.

The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) said formal teaching shouldn’t continue during the movement control order (MCO) as it left B40 (low-income) students at a disadvantage, while access to gadgets was an issue for some students.

The Education Ministry is conducting a survey until April 3 to track the level of readiness among Malaysian families in implementing online learning.

The findings, the survey stated, will take into account the availability of gadgets, smartphones, computers and Internet accessibility.

Special education teacher Dr Muhamad Khairul Anuar Hussin provided 50 of his students from B40 families with free top-ups for their phones so they can connect to the Internet.

“Online learning is a good way for teachers to practise teaching through the latest technology.

“But there are elements such as access to learning materials that must be taken into account when deciding on how to implement online learning, ” said the teacher from SMK Taman Universiti 2, Johor.Teaching his autistic students was a challenge, Muhamad Khairul said, adding that the parents’ support was crucial.

He gives instructions to parents

on how to guide their children from home, as teachers have prepared individual education plans for each student.

“We use WhatsApp and Zoom for online learning as students already have the skills to use it.

“For students in need of enrichment, they will be provided with training appropriate with their level while weaker students will be guided individually.”

While he feels online learning is effective and allows teachers to be creative, better planning is needed to improve delivery techniques.

Similarly, an English teacher from Keningau Vocational College, Sabah, Mohd Sirhajwan Idek feels he and his colleagues would have been better prepared if the MCO was announced before the school break.“Most students and teachers were already in their hometowns when it was announced so we could not return to school to take materials we needed to execute our digital lessons properly.

“These include textbooks, lesson plans, worksheets and hard drives with teaching materials, ” he said.

With many of them from a rural part of Keningau, Sirhajwan said his colleagues were making the best of whatever resources they had.

While some of his students are missing out on lessons due to the lack of accessibility to gadgets, he is confident they will be able to catch up once school reopens.

“I use Google Classroom and Kahoot as it complements students’ main learning activity and we can assess them through quizzes.

S. Sri Murugan, a teacher from SMK Subang Utama, said some of his students didn’t have mobile phones and computers. Many used their parents’ smartphones to access Google Classroom, he said.

“Though the bulk of our students have joined Google Classroom and social media chat groups for lessons, there are at least 300 more who are yet to join.”

It was a hindrance as now, there was a break in the delivery of information and lessons among students, he said.

He prepares his materials in the form of reading tasks, writing activities, quizzes and assignments the night before, which will be automatically posted the next day on Google Classroom.

Like Sirhajwan, Sri Murugan also uses Kahoot and EduwebTV – online platforms provided by the ministry.

“Through these platforms, teachers have a variety of resources to use and students enjoy learning through them, ” he said.

SMK (P) Jalan Ipoh Form Five student Harishna Kajentharan said learning through Google Classroom and Zoom was efficient and effective.“Accessing it and downloading materials are easy too, ” she said.

Though she was able to understand her lessons well, she said it wasn’t the same as face-to-face teaching and learning.

SMJK Yu Hua Kajang Form Three student Chin Wei Kee, who initially found Google Classroom confusing, enjoys the quizzes.“These quizzes look more like games instead of a task so it entertains us, instead of making us feel like we are forced to do homework.

The NUTP, however, is against the continuation of formal teaching during the MCO, its secretary-general Harry Tan said. It added unnecessary stress on poorer students, he added.“They are already having a hard time trying to put a meal on the table and now, they will be more worried.“Who will speak up for them as administrators are more interested in getting As than the overall well-being of all their students?” he said.NUTP proposes that teachers do enrichment activities or remedial work with students, he added, saying that lessons should only continue when the situation returns to normal.On March 27, the ministry issued a statement allowing teachers flexibility in conducting teaching and learning during the extended MCO.

“In considering students with limited Internet access, teachers can assign them activities using textbooks, workbooks, exercise books and activity books, ensuring no student is left behind, ” the ministry said.It encouraged teachers to refer to learning platforms provided by the ministry, state education departments, district education offices and schools, besides other learning platforms.

The ministry’s learning platform is MOE-DL which can be accessed via http://www.moe-dl.edu.my.It provides links to Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams for teaching and learning, digital textbooks, teaching and learning videos on EduwebTV and CikgooTube, and teaching and learning-assisted application links such as Edpuzzle, Quizizz and Kahoot.

“Parents too can access EduwebTV and CikgooTube to assist their children at home, at http://eduwebtv.moe.edu.my and http://bit.ly/cikgootube, ” it said.

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e-learning , NUTP , Covid-19


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