How to carry on teaching and learning

  • Letters
  • Thursday, 26 Mar 2020

WITH the spike in confirmed Covid-19 cases and halting of learning at institutions of higher education, I suspect the current school break may have to be extended for a longer period. While university students can use Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for independent study, students below the university level may not have as many opportunities to do so.

Besides, the current resources and infrastructure may not support a fully online curriculum for younger students.

What methods can our education stakeholders consider to ensure continuous learning at the compulsory education level then?

i) Online Resources and Blended Learning: With the myriad learning resources available on the Internet, teachers can integrate them with the local curriculum. While education requirements differ across countries, the core concepts taught bear many similarities. For example, teachers can assign students to complete specific topics through self-study on Khan Academy and track their progress. Websites of local museums and places of interest as well as the National Library’s e-Book Portal can also be sources of learning.

Teachers can also use learning platforms such as Edmodo to administer quizzes and hold student discussions. Students can even exercise (for example yoga and mindfulness for a change) at home following a designated video and under the supervision of their guardians.

ii) Mobile Learning and Flipped Classroom: While teachers can disseminate downloadable videos to students for self-study via a computer or mobile phone, an additional idea for mobile learning is to support communication between teachers and students.

In this, students can view instructional videos or read their textbooks prior to engaging in a quiz via a texting or chatting application with their teachers. Should communication time be reduced, teachers can plan and assign work for the week ahead of time and have students submit their work in the form of a text or photo message.

Teachers can then provide feedback the same way (and to the class as a whole, for example addressing questions from all students as a document or text message to be shared with all).

iii) Online Repository and Correspondence Learning: Local governments, publishers and schools can collaborate and create an online repository of teaching and learning materials such as scanned or online version of reading resources.

As needed, these materials can be printed and delivered to students in the form of correspondence learning. Combined with method (ii), completed assignments and feedback from teachers can be delivered electronically or through mail.

While some of these ideas are sustainable for a short period of time, others require support from parents and outside school entities to succeed in the longer term.

As we move forward in planning and executing for education in emergencies, we not only need to consider the adequacy of resources to support both teachers and learners in general but also students with additional learning needs.

As retired medical officers and nurses-in-training are being called upon to help combat Covid-19, perhaps student teachers can put their training into practice at this time of need and have their efforts recognised as part of their study and practical requirements.

With all the tools and resources available, within our circumstances, what can we do to best support the generations of tomorrow?

The following websites may be useful as references and for suggested tools and resources:

> Minimum standards for education in emergencies by Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (Available in multiple languages)

> List of distance learning solutions compiled by Unesco (


Kuala Lumpur

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