EDUCATORS are becoming more adept in using technology to deliver education online that is similar in quality to face-to-face teaching.
Although e-learning has settled into a routine, it is not without a lot of self-motivation, creativity, teamwork, and humorous moments along the way.
For American Degree Program and Southern New Hampshire Program senior lecturer Maztini Ahmad Mahir at INTI International College Subang’s Centre for American Education, moving online meant lecturers were faced with the challenge of teaching and keeping their students engaged in a completely virtual environment.
“Before the movement control order (MCO), we have been conducting two hours of face-to-face lectures, followed by an hour for online learning activities.
“This helped us prepare a little better for the immediate shift online when the MCO was announced, ” she added.
Luckily for her, the college had already established blended learning and the Blackboard Learning Management System.
These had been a day-to-day tool for both lecturers and students over the past eight years.
Because lecturers are now teaching remotely, Maztini said setting the mood at home is very important.
Although she will not be meeting her students in person anytime soon, she has a designated workstation at home.
She also gets ready for work like she normally would by dressing up and applying some light makeup.
Because lecturers are now talking over their laptops, it is necessary for them to make lessons more interactive and interesting to keep students listening, she added.
She livens up her classes by sharing videos and weaving in case studies, the use of apps like Kahoot! and Socrative, as well as fun quizzes and games.
“These incorporate nice visuals and music which students enjoy, ” she explained.
Besides attending training conducted by their respective institutions, Maztini said lecturers must also strive to improve their online delivery.
“Explore what’s available online and read articles on how to conduct online classes. This helps to further equip you for the new normal.
“A little bit more effort is required to keep students from falling asleep, especially when it comes to the dry topics!”
Describing her online teaching experience as enjoyable, Maztini recounted a class where she had her student’s parents joining the session as they were having breakfast while listening to the lecture.
“My students would tell me: ‘Ms Maz, my parents are listening to your lecture as well.”
Her colleague, Diploma in Business Program senior lecturer Claudine Shalani Kenel from the School of Business and Communication, believes that supporting colleagues who are relatively new to online teaching platforms is key.
“As someone who has always explored technology and tools for online learning, I share what I know with lecturers who have less experience in using them.
“This is the time when I can support my fellow lecturers and guide them so that we can ensure students’ learning is not affected by the pandemic.”
But colleagues coming together is not the only positive that’s resulted from the pandemic. Students are also doing the same.
“Support is very important as some students are not able to catch up, ” she said, adding that it’s heartening how those who are faster at adapting to the online platforms are helping their friends.
INTI International University, Nilai, Mechanical Engineering Program senior lecturer Dr Zuraidah Harith once had her students chuckling during an online class.
“I was conducting my morning class one day when an uninvited guest – a rooster – decided to pop in.
“The mood of the class instantly lightened, ” she said, adding that the animal could have come from a neighbour’s house.
Sharing her experience, Zuraidah said a writing tablet which she connects to her laptop has been especially useful when teaching online.
This is especially so for subjects that require the use of formulas.
“The tablet is a lifesaver. For subjects like electrical circuits, this is a great supplementary tool to have, especially now that we are teaching students virtually.”