自从肆虐全球的新冠状肺炎病毒在我国爆发之后，为阻止疫情愈加严重，政府日前颁布了行动管制令。除了各大行业受影响之外，国内所有幼儿园、政府及私人学校也被迫关闭。但是，虽然疫情的扩散暂时阻断了全国中小学生的开学之路，却也带来了“网络教学”如此崭新的授课方式。如今，为响应“ 停课不停学 ”，全国各地的学校与学府已开始正式采用在线学习平台来进行校内的各种课程，以确保学生们的学习进度不受影响。随着诸如Zoom、Google Classroom之类的应用程序迅速普及化，再加上因疫情影响，政府仍无法批准师生回校上课，因此全国师生必须留在家里继续通过网络上教学，才不会拖延课程进展。
为了不耽误我校学生的学习进度，我校也在全民抗击新冠肺炎疫情之际正式实施了“ 居家自主学习 ” 计划，呼吁全体学生善用在家的时间进行网上学习。自3月30日（星期一）开始，我校为各班级安排了“网上学习时间表”，每堂课长达一个小时，一天共有四堂课或以上。学生们必须按校方规划之时间表参与网上学习，以维持各科目的教学进度。另外，我校亦启动了“Moodle” 网上学习平台，让老师们透过该平台分享各科的学习资源，同时也让学生们完成老师所发布的学习项目与课业。其中包括语文科、数理科、地理、历史、美术、STEAM等。
江校长指出，启动该网上学习平台由我校教务处与IT部门一手包办，由于只需通过校内行政系统将1960名学生的资料输入该网上学习平台即可，因此也十分方便。除此之外，老师们也开始按照网上学习时间表使用Zoom来进行各科目的线上教学，并且获得了众多学生的配合，目前也进行得非常顺利。少数老师也因居家网络不稳定而使用Facebook Live授课。 就连商美班的学生们也通过网络教学进行各种美术与设计的课程，可谓在艰难的时刻也不忘教育之本。
网络教学 vs 传统教学
If any good has become apparent during this stressful moment of the corona virus, it is that online learning is no longer just a subject being discussed and studied by authorities while schools continue implementing traditional learning- it has been officially put into practice as schools and institutions around our country start to turn to online learning platforms to conduct lessons and courses. Digital apps and software that are free of charge such as Zoom have rapidly increased in popularity as people around the world, be it students or adults, begin to overcome the physical barrier and start carrying out their everyday businesses and routines using technology.
“Study from Home” Initiative
Our school has also been quick to catch up and has launched the “Study from Home” initiative during this pandemic. Starting from 6th of April, the school has been arranging and customising timetables for each class so that students don’t miss out on any lessons. All subjects are included- Chinese, English, Malay, Math, Science, History, Geography, Add Math, Business Studies, STEAM, Accounts and so forth. Each day includes three to five lessons, each class varying depending on the courses they study.
Online Learning at Han Chiang
Madam Kung Bee Lee, the principal of Han Chiang High School, stated that Moodle and Zoom are the main platforms our school is using to carry out online learning. Before this pandemic, our school has already implemented the use of eclass, which is an online platform where our teachers upload past-year papers from internal and external exams to aid students in excelling in their studies by providing them with extra study materials. It is also easier for them to wrap their heads around the exam formats by referring to the resources. However, as schools are closed and students are unable to study, our school deemed it as crucial to take this to another level and established Moodle- a website used by many other private schools- where teachers could upload files and assignments to students. Meanwhile, Zoom is also operated by teachers and students as a substitution to conventional classes. Several teachers use Facebook to carry out their lessons as well, though it is not as popular among faculties. Madam Kung spoke highly of the IT and Studies Department of our school for managing to import the information of 1960 students to the online platforms within two days, making it possible to commence the “Study from Home” initiative in such a short time.
“However, there are certainly some obstacles we faced along the way. Some teachers and students have unstable Internet connection, thus not being able to conduct or receive lessons with clarity.” Nonetheless, Madam Kung stated that they tried to make an effort to enhance their Internet connectivity. Those students who failed to do so have notified their respective teachers, who will record their Zoom lessons and upload them on Moodle or their private Whatsapp groups. A handful of teachers also film their lessons as videos and send them to their students due to their weak connection. Besides that, another problem encountered is the 40-minute-limit applied on Zoom, which proves as quite troublesome as each lesson lasts for an hour. Thus, our school has subsidised 40 teachers-mostly in charge of graduating classes facing external examinations- to upgrade their Zoom app.
“I’ve been supervising different classes on Zoom for the past few weeks and have discovered that all students are pretty cooperative throughout the lessons. Most of the classes have full attendance and parents are also willing to work side by side with the school to achieve our aim.” Madam Kung also expressed that students seem to be very enthusiastic as this is a new experience and learning environment for them and felt that this should be the way, that the youth should have the motivation and passion to acquire more knowledge. She mentioned that should the Movement Control Order extend further, we will still be required to use Zoom and Moodle to conduct our lessons and our school will plan to subsidise more teachers to ensure a smooth and hassle-free learning process. Students’ timetable will be prolonged as well and those who face any stress issues can approach the Counselling Department to receive guidance.
Online Learning Vs. Conventional Learning
Madam Kung stated that the most notable difference between online learning and traditional learning is that online learning lacks social interaction. Teachers aren’t able to fully grasp if the students understand their lessons whereas in class, a quick sweep of the class will allow teachers to comprehend everyone’s reaction. Besides that, online learning enables students to download the powerpoint slides prepared by teachers and can be slowly “digested” instead of having to copy everything down. The teaching resources are also tremendously wide-ranging as our teachers not only exchange materials with other private school teachers in Malaysia, but also with educators from other countries all over the world. “Teachers could upload much more information and details online compared to the knowledge instilled in students during the usual 40-minute lessons at school. The resources are inexhaustible and know no boundaries.” However, Madam Kung strongly believed that schools must still exist as curricular and physical activities such as sports and music can’t be easily carried out through the Internet as teamwork can only be achieved physically. Socialising with peers from the same age groups face-to-face is also a completely different experience in comparison with online interaction. Regarding whether our school will continue using online learning after school reopens, Madam Kung stated that it is completely up to the students to decide as everyone will have had a taste of online learning by then. She personally thought that incorporating online learning with conventional classes will definitely benefit students as the saying goes: killing two birds with one stone.
Alterations to School Fees
As the impact of this pandemic is extremely profound and significant, the Board of Directors has decided to extend the due date of our May school fees to June and our August school fees to September. Besides that, those who live in our school dormitories will only need to pay half of their April fees. However, anyone whose family is facing any economic burden can apply for financial aid from the school, given that they fulfill the criteria and describe their financial situation in a formal letter or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Madam Kung voiced that our school and board of directors are willing to help these students finish their studies successfully in Han Chiang High School.
Safety Measures That Will Be Taken
Once the Movement Control Order is lifted and school is resumed, Madam Kung stated that everyone’s temperature will be measured as they step through the front gate and voluntary workers will help maintain order. Classes will also be relocated to more spacious rooms such as the hall or multi-purpose hall. Numbers of students will be reduced as well to meet the government’s direction and recess times will be altered. When students dine at the school canteen, a table can only be sat by a row of students with a certain distance between one another. Food and drinks will also be sold in lunch boxes with lids to ensure the students’ hygiene. The mid-year examination will also be postponed to June or cancelled altogether depending on when school reopens. At the same time, the IGCSE examination which was supposed to be held in May and June are postponed to October and November, where students will have to sit for languages and majoring subjects. Students taking the UEC examination still have to await news from Dong Zong on their latest decision. School events such as Jogathon and Sport’s Day will be cancelled as well.
A Few Words From Madam Kung
At the same time, Madam Kung hoped that everyone could work together to fight against this invisible yet mighty enemy by staying at home.She wanted to express her gratitude and respect to the teachers who have worked really hard during this uncertain period to ensure that students continue to learn and strive for knowledge while quarantining at home. She also advised students to appreciate and make good use of all the resources prepared by the teachers and reminded them that the world belongs to them.
How does Online Learning Affect Education?
Despite the fact that online learning has provided a platform for teaching and learning to be modernised where teachers can reach students with different learning styles with more ease, online education could certainly take its toll on both teachers and students in the long run. As the Movement Control Order continues to be extended, excessive online usage could affect the quality of teachers’ lesson preparations, the amount of marking that needs to be done and even students’ and teachers’ moods. Besides that, online learning requires a hefty amount of self-motivation and time management skills. In the setting of an online environment, many students tend to fall off track as constant urgings from teachers are absent and they are left to fend for themselves armed not with weapons but self-discipline and willpower. In addition, staring at the computer screen for an extensive length of time will strain the eyesight of teachers and students, while sitting in the same position for too long is also harmful to health. Therefore, we thoroughly hope that this pandemic will end soon so that everything could go back to its usual routine.
What Do Our Teachers and Students Think?
Ms. Madahvi, one of our teachers from the English centre, stated that online teaching is a new trend which is extremely helpful during this lockdown period. “It enables us teachers to continue teaching and students to carry on with learning in a convenient and comfortable ambience.” However, she expressed that there is a sole problem she often encounters when conducting lessons online, that is the unstable Internet connection at her house. She often has to disconnect her Zoom meeting sessions and reconnect again once the connection is better, which proves as quite troublesome at times. She also commented on students’ responses toward online learning. “They are on time for class and most of them use the chat box to communicate, which allows two way communication. Overally, they are pretty cooperative during my lessons.” Ms. Madahvi believed that there are both pros and cons to online teaching and traditional teaching. She thought that traditional teaching allows for actual contact between teachers and students, as well as let students study with physical materials such as books, whereas online teaching is a more advanced way of sharing knowledge following the growth of technology and brings teaching and learning to a more enjoyable environment.
Jill Chung from class J3E1 stated that like all things, online learning shoulders both advantages and disadvantages. Convenience, freedom and being able to learn in a more relaxing environment are its benefits, whereas its downsides include hindering teachers from keeping an eye on students which would lead to those with shorter attention spans getting distracted. Besides that, Jill also believed that some technical issues would obstruct students’ learning processes as not everyone has the privilege of possessing the required equipment to take part in online learning. Jill thought that online learning is a testament to the development of technology around the world. “ For different people, the effects that online learning brings may vary but the most important thing is that students should always maintain a positive attitude and be independent, so that we could gain the most out of online learning.”