Prior to the pandemic in early 2020, e-learning played somewhat of a supporting role in the classroom. In fact, many schools were not even equipped with computer labs and e-learning was something altogether foreign.
A year plus into the pandemic and after multiple lockdowns, all this changed almost overnight as students and teachers were confined to their homes. Suddenly, online learning in Malaysia was no longer an added benefit. It became an essential tool for keeping students educated during this period of uncertainty.
Conducting classes online is not an easy feat especially for teachers who have no prior experience or exposure to digitalised education. The learning curve has been steep for many teachers – from choosing the right applications to mastering virtual calls.
Our teachers are great. Before MCO, many teachers were not exposed to digitalisation, but from MCO 1.0 to MCO 3.0, Alhamdulilah, teachers began to use it to improve and learn digital methods to ensure knowledge can be imparted. – Senior Education Minister Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin
Without the physical presence of students in the classroom, teachers have to think creatively about how to keep their students engaged and listening. Additionally, internet connection may be a challenge especially for schools in rural areas. Many schools struggled to adapt initially, but there are some schools that thrived.
Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Bukit Indah (SKTBI) in Johor won the global Microsoft award
In 2020, SKTBI won the “Biggest Impact School of The Year 2019-2020” title for Microsoft Showcase Schools, which is a programme by Microsoft that provides support to a global network of schools, and help implement school-wide transformation, steadily heading towards a culture of learning, innovation and continuous improvement.
On top of that, the teachers have also accredited Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) experts due to their use and integration of technology into their teaching lessons. The school had received praises and recognition for its innovative use of technology as well as being a notable aspiration in terms of the digitalisation of education for educators and schools everywhere. In fact, the headmaster, Rasman Abdul Karim, said that the school was already incorporating e-learning elements into the classroom prior to the pandemic.
The use of technology [prior to the pandemic] allowed a smoother transition to remote learning as it provided us ample time to prepare our teachers, parents and students in enabling digital education. And we hope our journey will motivate other schools in Malaysia to leverage technology to enhance our education system as we head into the digital future. – Rasman Abdul Karim, SKTBI’s headmaster
Online learning may remain even when the pandemic fades away. Schools and education institutions have to continue to raise the bar to make e-learning effective and engaging. Students cannot afford to be left behind because of another lockdown.
Here’s what we can learn from SK Taman Bukit Indah’s e-learning success story:
#1: Get Up To Speed With Technology
Admittedly, this is a no-brainer. Since online learning has become essential, it is crucial for educators to learn and stay updated with the current technology. This is because there are some teachers who may feel that online teaching is daunting due to their inexperience with handling technology. Therefore, those with more knowledge have to ensure their colleagues are not left behind. In SKBTI’s case, they held months of training and seminars to provide exposure to virtual classes so that the teachers become more comfortable conducting remote online classes.
#2: Rally Parents’ Involvement
Since the lessons have shifted to home, parents are now taking a large role in their children’s education. Teachers have to take the initiative to build stronger relationships with the parents so that they can help the teacher to support the student’s learning experience.
Introduce parents to e-learning platforms and other programmes the school is utilising. Get the parents familiar with these platforms. SKBTI, for example, has been conducting small-scale training workshops for parents even before the pandemic. These workshops were held mostly on weekends to accommodate parents’ schedule.
The initiative taken by the school to train the parents encouraged them to be more involved in their child’s learning journey. According to one of the teachers, parents often would reach out regarding the latest learning tools and programmes. Communication is an important key to maintaining the parent-teacher relationship.
#3: Get Creative With The Lesson
One of the issues that were mentioned earlier was students’ inability to stay focused during online classes. Other than being faced with distractions, the lack of face-to-face supervision from the teacher can cause students to lose focus in an online class.
This is why teachers should think of new and creative ways to ensure that the students remain engaged during classes. For example, some educators have taken to TikTok to deliver lessons in the form of short videos so that students will be able to understand and absorb easier.
I am using TikTok for educational purposes through two types of approaches. The first is to create interactive science content that complements school lessons by using interesting features in TikTok such as trending sounds, effects and stickers. The second is to ask High Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) questions for students to think critically during their lessons. – Norhailmi Abdul Mutalib, a science teacher
Other popular web applications that can be used to enhance the student’s learning experience include:
- Kahoot is a game-based learning app where teachers can create quizzes and games to keep subjects fun and even entertaining.
- Google Forms is great for creating quizzes, surveys and test papers – for free! Educators can use it for periodic quizzes or assessments.
- Mentimeter is a useful tool to engage students in live polls, multiple-choice questions and word clouds. Educators can also track learning and understanding by downloading results.
- Scratch an e-learning platform specifically developed for children 8-16 years old where they can create games, animations, slideshows and stories using simple programming skills.
#4: Create A Community Of Learners
SKTBI has been continuously working towards building a community of learners who are equipped with the knowledge to use ever-evolving technology. The culture of continuous learning is translated into events and workshops for students to improve their digital literacy and stay on the edge.
These workshops are not only fun, but they provide the necessary tools to enhance the student’s learning.
Truly, teachers carry a heavy responsibility on their shoulders. They help build a nation, and create future leaders. They improve and enrich lives. Now, in the midst of a pandemic, these changemakers are not only thinking of themselves, but they are figuring out ways to ensure that an entire generation will not be left behind in the dust.
When you win an international award, you become a role model for other educators. I hope I will be able to inspire other educators to prepare pupils to be future-ready. – Mohd Fadzli Bin Ishak, the Bestari Coordinating Teacher for SKTBI
As changemakers, it is important to keep up with the rapid pace of the ever-changing education system, and continuously strive for improvement. The story of SKTBI proves that it is possible to change, adapt, and evolve to keep up with the times, and shows within the education community the various ways that could be done, taking the right, necessary step towards digitalisation of education.
Explore Our Sources:
- Bernama. (2021). Malaysian teachers improving their digital skills, says Radzi. The Edge Markets. Link.
- Arumugam, T. (2021). Students at a disadvantage if schools close. New Straits Times. Link.
- UNICEF. (2021). Families on Edge, Issue 4. Link.
- Tan, V. (2021). Parents in Malaysia fret over academic progress amid prolonged school closure, online learning. Channel News Asia. Link.
- Savitha, A. G. (2020). SK Taman Bukit Indah in Johor bags Microsoft global award for digitalisation in education and community efforts. Malay Mail. Link.
- Microsoft Malaysia. (2020). Microsoft Showcase School award recipient from Johor reimagines the future of education. Microsoft. Link.
- Dorall, A. (2021). Teachers On TikTok Are Taking Virtual Learning To The Next Level. The Rakyat Post. Link.
- Menon, S. (2021). Educators recognised for dedication to profession share their journey. Link.