Catching up fast with e-learning

Lyna Mohamad

E-learning is a platform that provides a space for teachers and students to study, especially in a situation where physically attending classes is not possible.

In an interview with the Bulletin, Principal of Sultan Hassan Secondary School (SMSH) in Temburong Abdul Wafi bin Abdullah Sia said e-learning is beneficial ever since the COVID-19 outbreak. Most schools have seen e-learning as a new teaching platform despite being implemented in a very short time.

The first week was hectic at SMSH as students and their parents were still trying to adapt to the sudden change as e-learning requires gadgets. However, as some students weren’t able to go online, the school did not stress on the need for them to go for online learning. “We understand that parents need time to find gadgets for their children. For the underprivileged students or those unable to be online, we give them Home Learning Packs (HLP) where we advise parents to collect and submit the completed HLP every Monday,” he said.

As for Year 11 students who will be sitting for their GCE ‘O’ Level exams, teachers are reminded to give extra attention on Year 11 students through additional hours of online interaction. As for those on HLP, the school closely monitors these students. For those who are not in keeping up with their studies, the school has identified a special programme for them to catch up.

Another issue raised by the principal was data. Data is costly and the school’s infrastructure can only cope up to a certain limit. Some teachers have used their own money for the data to ensure a smooth online learning for their students. The school also has plans for parents without transportation to collect the HLP.

The school will call the parents and make an appointment.

For those with no communications, the HLP will be delivered to them. Sharing his thoughts on the possibility of continuing e-learning, Abdul Wafi said, “If it continues, I am sure the school is ready to make it as one of the future learning platforms.”

Meanwhile, Principal of Duli Pengiran Muda Al-Muhtadee Billah College (Maktab Duli) Hajah Monaliza binti Haji Abdul Halim in a separate interview spoke on the need to avoid interruption of students’ learning, particularly for Pre-University students who will be sitting for their ‘AS’ and ‘A’ Level examinations. Since the implementation of e-learning by the Ministry of Education (MoE), the college has been receiving positive feedback from the students and their parents.

The principal pointed out that at the end of each lesson there will be an evaluation where students give feedback on how the lesson was delivered to them.

Students’ work records as well as work assessments are also taken as a measurement of their understanding.

The MoE had taken the initiative to give a heads up to schools on the implementation of e-learning and the college made preparations in advance just before the start of the first term school break, where all departments were required to prepare to ensure the smooth running of e-learning.

Among the preparations was holding meetings with heads of departments to discuss on learning methods and resources that can be used by each department, either through online or hard copies. Every department head holds meetings with their lecturers on teaching and learning methods.

Each department head is also required to submit a report on evaluation of the teaching methods used by their lecturers.

Lecturers need to prepare their lesson plans, weekly programmes and students’ records, while those in need of printing notes or question papers are required to send it over to the administration office. The Head of the Media Unit at the college provides the e-learning platforms using Microsoft 365 and Google Drive to facilitate departments in collecting e-resources for teaching.

The college also provides logistics requirements such as teleconferencing, laptops, PCs, connectivity, dedicated rooms and others.

Hajah Monaliza said one of the challanges is that not all students have the privilege of Internet access and gadgets needed for online learning and were thus unable to participate in online classes with their fellow students and teachers.

Other challenges are similar to most schools, including the large use of data daily, preparation of teaching materials taking more time than normal classes and also limited expertise of some lecturers on the use of certain applications. However, the college is grateful that the MoE through the Brunei Darussalam Teachers Academy has initiated several kinds of online learning related training.