Five steps to more effective online learning

The tablets donated by Ahmad Amzad go a long way toward helping to facilitate Kuala Terengganu schoolchildren's home-based teaching and learning (PdPR) sessions, according to his constituents. — dpa via AP

LABUAN: A university professor has come up with five recommendations following research he undertook to better understand the factors behind online learning success during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Tajudin Ninggal, who is with the Cluster of Education and Social Sciences at Open University Malaysia (OUM), said the first of the recommendations is that a university needs to address educational equity by ensuring its students are able to access online learning.

“More specifically, it should ensure that all students receive the appropriate and effective learning opportunities, instructional resources, and evaluative assessment – all of which ought to be differentiated according to their unique sets of characteristics and needs, ” he said in an interview.

His second recommendation is that the university look into students’ readiness to engage in online learning because his research showed that they generally struggle with the lack of knowledge and skills required to participate productively.

The third recommendation is for the university to consider setting up a centre for student learning to assist students having difficulties with online study skills, he said.

Mohd Tajudin said the fourth recommendation is that the university consider beefing up its counselling and guidance services and other targeted intervention programmes to help students facing emotional issues such as stress and depression.

Lastly, the university must ensure that its online tutors are well trained in the online learning system and in online learning competency.

“Apart from having technological knowledge, online tutors also need to be student-friendly and have good communication and coaching skills, ” he said.

Mohd Tajudin said the key questions that framed his research were to what extent students’ learning skills and personality profiles will shape or determine their level of emotional equanimity and online learning success, and what role motivation will play in attenuating any of the negative effects on learning.

“Comparatively, the 159 female and male student participants of my research were in a more precarious position than the working-adult learners in open universities.

“Differences between the two cohorts are not absolute – still, there are clear and significant differences, the first of which has to do with the fact that, unlike working-adult learners, the subjects of my research were fresh school leavers who had just entered university, ” he said.

Mohd Tajudin said the latter cohort is more likely to have the means, experience, and social support to quickly remedy the situation.

He said more research along these lines is bound to emerge in the near future, so it remains to be seen if the findings highlighted will be replicated and to what extent, and whether, the same interventionist measures recommended will not be reiterated.

“Just as there are challenges before us as online facilitators and pastoral caregivers, there are also measures at our disposal to make teaching-learning at least a little less stressful and a little more productive, ” he said. — Bernama

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