Future is online for education

  • Letters
  • Monday, 15 Jan 2018

WHAT is our future in education? Are we going to get rid of textbooks? Are we using tablets to enhance teaching?

Fact is our education system has not changed much since the last century. The old system remains, with teachers teaching in classrooms while their students keep quiet and listen. Everything from textbooks to the syllabus is the same.

I think we need an educational revolution.

Some may have heard of the “twenty-first century learning” concept implemented by the Govern­ment. Is it really working? The only change is that students are required to present information from the textbooks, which they have to read by themselves beforehand. Some may argue that students will understand better this way.

However, as a student, I feel that we are just regurgitating the contents of the textbook through a computer presentation program or the white board. I do not see much improvement via this method.

What other alternatives do we have? How about combining technology with education? The idea of using online textbooks was proposed a few years ago but I have not seen it being implemented yet.

As such, students still have to carry thick and heavy books to school daily.

What if there is a good way to improve this situation? Perhaps not many know about the Khan Academy, which I think is the future of our education. Some schools overseas are already incorporating Khan’s method into their school system.

Khan Academy is a free online course consisting of thousands of video courses on almost anything. The question is how can these videos help to revolutionise our education?

The founder of Khan Academy, Sal Khan, envisioned a future where students watched and learnt from videos with educational materials at home. Teachers would monitor each student’s progress. Some students are fast learners and others are slow. This is a system that enables everyone to learn at his or her own pace.

Now you might ask: what do students do in school then? These students would be answering questions, doing exercises in classrooms and asking their teachers to explain what they cannot understand from the videos. Their homework would be done at school, while the learning would be done at home.

Isn’t this what the Government aims to do? Teachers would work only as assistants to students who may have problems in their studies. There is no need to go for tuition anymore as every student can learn at his/her own pace by stopping the video play anytime or repeating the play. Students would not feel ashamed to repeat the play of content at home.

Indeed, I see the Khan Academy as a very promising system to replace our current educational system.

But there are problems, however. Firstly, how do we make sure that students study at home by watching the educational videos? For students who do not appreciate the Khan system, it may be a waste of time.

Secondly, the system requires every family to own a computer, or at least a tablet, with Internet access. This may be a problem with poor families. But if we know we can save from not having to pay tuition fees every month, it is worthwhile to buy a computer.

I really hope this idea will be taken up by the Education Ministry. For a start, this system could be implemented like the Dual Language Programme. One class from any level could be put under the Khan system, and students for this test run selected by their teachers. This will reduce problems arising from implementing a new syllabus.


Kuala Lumpur

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