Teachers should turn challenges of online learning into opportunities to improve the teaching and learning experiences.
Dr S. Jayanti, an educator with over 26 years of experience as a teacher and teacher educator with the Education Ministry, added teachers must be proactive in reaching out to students.
“Before Covid-19 hit Malaysia, teachers wished they had fewer students in their classes. Today, they have a limited number of students attending lessons,” said Jayanti.
“If teachers are worried about those who cannot join the lessons, then they should just go back to the basics and find new ways to reach out to them.”
Jayanti said teachers should record their lessons and share the recordings with students or encourage them to tune in to TV Pendidikan. Exercises and assignments given should also fit into these learning streams.
“Teachers need to adopt multiple ways to reach students, including having pick-up and drop-off points for teachers and students to access learning materials,” said Jayanti, who is LeapEd Education Head of Development and Resources.
LeapEd is a social enterprise that supports school leaders, teachers, students, parents and the community.
Jayanti was responding to Twentywo13’s article ‘Digital training of teachers crucial to ensure the success of online learning’. The Jan 21 article quoted National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan as saying teachers in Malaysia were never trained to teach online.
Jayanti said the solution is for educators to go back to the basics.
To ensure students remain engaged, she said teachers can teach one subject a day for the primary and lower secondary students and two subjects – one core subject and one elective – for upper secondary students.
“Preparing lessons would also be much easier through this method. It will also eliminate the problem of teachers being bogged down with additional work.”
She said teachers and school administrators should not say remote learning has left them paralysed.
“They should also not wait for circulars from the ministry on ways to reach out to students who are facing problems. This is a decision that can be made by the schools themselves.”
On criticisms by some parents on how online lessons are being conducted, Jayanti said all parties must manage expectations. She said some parents are worried their child cannot catch up when school opens but reminded them that every child faces the same predicament.
Parents, she added, play a crucial role when it comes to remote learning.
“Some students say they are embarrassed to turn on their microphones when learning due to noisy backgrounds. It is the role of adults to help their child by providing them a suitable place to study.”
On student assessments, Jayanti said it was time policymakers looked at things from a wider perspective. It is also pointless to catch up on learning loss as the child will end up “feeling lost”. Learning loss refers to loss of knowledge and skills or reversals in academic progress.
Jayanti added the landscape of education has changed in the Covid-19 era and it is time stakeholders make the best of it.
“If a child is learning more about history by talking to his grandparents rather than reading from a book, how are we assessing this child?
“When the time comes, there is also a need to rethink how schools should re-open. This includes allowing the district education department to make the call on when schools in a district should open,” she added.