Sunday, January 17, 2021

Online teaching may impede learning, experts warn as classes go digital again

Negative effects of online learning include students' slow absorption of lessons.

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The increase in Covid-19 infections has led the government to declare a conditional movement control order (CMCO) in Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, which, experts tell MalaysiaNow, will have a negative impact on students forced to revert to online learning during this period.

Nik Safiah Abdul Karim, a former nationally renowned academic figure, said not all students have the same facilities at home with which to fully engage in online classes.

“If a household has only one computer, family members have to share that one computer. Furthermore, many areas do not have sufficient (internet) access – a good example of this is Sabah,” the Universiti Malaya Malay language expert told MalaysiaNow.

She was referring to the case of Veveonah Mosibin, who made headlines after climbing a tree in order to get a proper signal so that she could access the internet in order to take a school exam.

“Online learning at home is not always conducive for some as they may be disturbed by other family members such as siblings,” Nik Safiah added.

“Online studies are proving to be less effective as not all students have access to the same facilities.”

On Tuesday, the government announced the CMCO in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Putrajaya, to run from Oct 14 to 27.

Another CMCO in Sabah, meanwhile, will run from Oct 13 to 26.

Schools in the Petaling district were declared closed on Sunday with classes to be held online in the wake of a new spike in cases which turned the area into a red zone.

Schools in all three areas under CMCO – Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Putrajaya – were subsequently closed as well.

Nik Safiah, who is now a guest academic at Universiti Malaya, said online studies were proving to be less effective as not all students have access to the same facilities. This has caused some to be left behind and to become slow or stagnant learners.

“Comparatively speaking, online learning is less effective than in-person interactive learning in the classroom, which is better because of the closer proximity between teacher and students and the interpersonal relationship.”

Given the current situation though, there appeared to be no choice, she added.

“The role of the teacher becomes very important. With online learning, the materials provided have to be engaging and attractive and the method of delivery has to be effective,” she said.

Once schools reopen, she said, teachers must work harder to ensure that no student is left behind in their studies.

“We hope this pandemic will not last long and that students can return to school and continue learning as normal.

“Our hope is that the negative impact of online learning will not be so bad,” she added.

The first MCO which stretched from mid-March to July saw schools across the country closed down.

During that time, students from low-income families and those whose homes lacked internet connection faced the most difficulty transitioning from classroom to online learning.

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