Bringing fun to virtual classrooms

Contributed by Ministry of Education

As Brunei faces the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, teachers and students have been adopting online learning. Virtual learning is significant at a time when schools have shifted to home-based learning (HBL).

Now that educational activities are carried out virtually, students can feel too demotivated to study. Therefore, it is crucial for teachers to be creative, at times, in the virtual classroom.

TIPS TO MAKE REMOTE LEARNING FUN

According to Senior Education Officer, Head of Teachers Unit, Brunei Darussalam Leadership and Teacher Academy (BDLTA) Dr Roslena binti Pehin Datu Indera Sugara Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Johari, “teachers need to work their lessons digitally and learn new programmes to make lessons more intellectually engaging.

“Using video conferencing, digital classrooms and breakout rooms allow students to communicate and work with their peers. Learning this way is more personalised. Teachers can use digital game-based learning tools and gamification and reward system to attract students’ interests and participation. This will nurture students’ critical thinking and creativity.”

Hajah Sorianasalwa binti Haji Mornie of Enam Meragang Sixth Form Centre also shared tips on how teachers can be creative.

“Teachers can record a video of them explaining their lesson and have students watch at their own time. So, during online classes, teachers can focus more on doing interactive activities with the students. Teachers are also encouraged to give their students some autonomy on how their e-learning class should be. Take turns with them on the decision making. For example, if they prefer audio lessons this week, teachers can have them do a writing task by the weekend.”

FUN AND ENGAGING E-LEARNING PLATFORMS

Apart from using free online platforms such as Microsoft, some teachers and students have also been using other e-learning tools allowing teachers to creatively prepare lessons to provide students with fun and engaging lessons.

Preschool teacher of Haji Mohd Salleh Sungai Hanching Primary School Elme Noorernny binti Haji Amran said, “As a mathematics teacher, my favourite online applications are Seesaw and Splashlearn, where pupils can easily access the worksheets and teachers can check their work and give direct feedback in the applications.”

“Marks will also be recorded in the applications and are accessible to parents so they can check their children’s progress. I also provide the parents with step-by-step instructions using Microsoft PowerPoint slides. Splashlearn allows children to enjoy their tasks as they are based on online games that are suitable for students who need verbal instructions,” she added.

Year 6 teachers from Kapok Primary School, Rosni binti Othman and Arni binti Haji Metali prefer to use WhatsApp as their e-learning platform. Both teachers found it to be more convenient and affordable as it is “an everyday communication tool widely used by parents and students”, said Rosni. As an English teacher, Arni encourages independent learning among her students.

“I provide my students with links that could help them in their studies. If they come across unfamiliar English words, I encourage them to use an online dictionary to find their definitions,” she added.

Another e-learning platform – Wordwall – is also used by Rosni for her students to do mental computation and time table tests.

“Wordwall is an engaging and fun platform to practise mathematics. I can set their online activities as games or a quizzes,” she said.

Sayyidina Abu Bakar Secondary School teacher, Hajah Harita binti Haji Hassan, shared that apart from WhatsApp, she has also been using Google Form, YouTube, TikTok, Word Mint
and Liveworksheets.

“These online applications encourage active student participation,” she said.

Fun and engaging e-learning platforms are not only important to attract pre-school, primary and secondary students, but also graduates. Universiti Brunei Darussalam student Nur Haziqah binti Jaba is keen to attend her online classes as a game-based e-learning tool such as Kahoot is used at the end of her lecture to help recap what she have learnt.

“My other favourite e-learning platforms are Zoom app and Microsoft Teams. They have useful features such as video recordings, screen-sharing, and live chat which are all easy to use,” Nur Haziqah added.

LEARNING BEYOND VIRTUAL CLASSROOM

In developing pupils’ digital, collaborative and independent learning, Anastasia Naidoo, a preschool English teacher from Kapok Primary School, provides lessons with content in the context of real life.

“For example, when students were given a video assignment to describe what they would like to be when they grow up, they are encouraged to use props.”

For Nur Ar Mardhiah binti Haji Mohd Akin, a mother of a Year 1 pupil, her son has to submit one creative project each week, such as making a clock using recycled materials, creating a video introducing a favourite toy, and a do-it-yourself (DIY) water movement experiment.

She said, “I think it’s great that they learn and have fun at the same time. Since his teachers introduced such creative lessons, my son has been eager to complete school activities. Alhamdulillah, I can also see an improvement in his studies.”

Secondary school students from Sayyidina Abu Bakar Secondary School have also been conducting practical tasks at home.

Hajah Harita said, “The students will make demonstrations on video which require a thorough planning process. In this way, students can explore their creativity, by using animations or illustrations, to support their explanation.”

In making the leap to remote learning, teachers strive to provide creative lessons via up-to-date online tools and platforms.

Teachers also often encourage independent digital learning by providing suitable practical tasks for students to do on their own, extending their remote learning experience beyond the virtual classroom.

With such efforts, students’ remote learning experiences have become more interactive and engaging than ever before.