Shifting to a virtual classroom

Wani Roslan

Students and teachers across the country are adapting to the change in the educational landscape amid the COVID-19 outbreak. With all classes moved to the virtual world, three students shared with the Weekend Bulletin the experience of learning through an online platform.

Nuratikah Aqilah binti Jeffree is currently doing a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Islamic Education at the Religious Teachers University College of Seri Begawan (KUPU SB). Her college shifted to the online format on March 24. She admitted that in the first few days, it was difficult to navigate Google Classroom and Zoom. But she soon got the hang of it and began to see the upsides of the new arrangement.

“It saves me a lot of time. I don’t have to rush from one class to the next anymore,” she said.

As a teacher in training, she hasn’t had prior experiences in conducting a physical class. So, she finds online micro-teaching lessons to be challenging because it is harder to control a classroom of students remotely.

On the other hand, she said, video conferencing is a good way to deliver a presentation in front of her lecturers and classmates.

A smartphone screen showing the functions of Google Classroom. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR

“So far,” she said, “I like how online learning works. I have to work on my focus because learning at home can be more difficult with all the distractions around.”

Fellow student at KUPU SB Syifa Wjihah binti Safri, who is also studying an HND in Islamic Education, said she had difficulty adapting to this form of learning initially, due to poor Internet connections. But after a few classes, she began to see its effectiveness in delivering lessons.

She said she has access to audio and video lessons via Google Classroom, and Whatsapp and Telegram for study materials.

“With online learning, you are basically alone, without your classmates around you. While I prefer to study with my friends next to me, it is overall a new but good experience,” she said. “With the current COVID-19 pandemic, online learning is very valuable.”

Meanwhile, Nur Aqidah Iwani bin Haji Rosli, who is studying an HNTEC in Hospitality Operation at the Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE), said e-learning is useful but not everyone has access to the Internet, computer or a smartphone. Even if they do, she said, “some students might not be familiar with Microsoft Team. It is a complicated process for a first timer”.

She admitted that online learning requires a lot of self-motivation and an ability to stay focussed. After a trying adjustment period, she said, she started to see the convenience in this format of learning while gaining new experiences at the same time.