Interaction with learners

Support learners with poor or no internet

THE Most worrying is the findings of a UNICEF and UNFPA report recently released by the Prime Minister’s Department Minister Datuk Sri Mustapa Mohamed on e-learning among the urban poor.

Up to 80% of poor urban children find it difficult to concentrate on their schoolwork, and 60% of parents say children have lost interest in studying.

Unfortunately, even with EduTV, which was supposed to help learners without internet access or digital devices, 43% of parents said their children did not understand the programs on offer.

There are three types of interaction in online learning, namely learners talking (or interacting) with their teachers, learners talking (or interacting) with their classmates and learners talking (or interacting) with the teacher. content they learn.

The first two types of conversation (or interaction) are highly dependent on a stable internet connection and device availability, while the third type of conversation (or interaction) can be done with minimal internet connection.

Remember that in online learning, around 75% of student learning time is spent on the third type of interaction, which is self-study or independent learning.

It is here that learners try to understand the prescribed textbook by their own efforts without direct supervision from the teacher.

For those who can afford it, they may have various workbooks, worksheets, concept notes, summaries, previous exam questions, model answers and more to support their learning.

Those with an Internet connection and devices can watch video clips, listen to audio clips, answer quizzes, do exercises or experiment online.

Now consider the scenario of learners from poor urban or rural households who cannot afford to buy commercially prepared materials, do not have an internet connection or devices, and rely only on a textbook for each subject provided free of charge by the Ministry of Education.

Sometimes they can use their parents’ cell phone, which is shared among multiple siblings (assuming they can afford the data plan), to talk with the teacher and their classmates. These learners cry out for help.

Here is a solution. Let’s go back to the early days of distance education where printed learning materials were the primary resource for learning a subject.

It was the practice of the UK Open University that provided learners around the world in the 1970s with excellent self-study modules (called SIMs) mailed to them.

In Malaysia, University Science Malaysia was the pioneer in this field, followed by Open University Malaysia and Asia e University.

The Malaysian Qualifications Agency specifies that a MIS should be developed for online courses.

The MIS could be wrapped around the prescribed textbook or, better yet, rewritten to allow learners to study on their own.

With the SIM, learners have a “Teacher-in-Print” explaining the field, telling them what to do, giving feedback, monitoring their understanding, motivating them, guiding them on how to study, suggesting help. remedial or appropriate enrichment, etc.

It is proposed that MIS be developed for all subjects in primary and secondary schools based on Einstein’s famous adage that “everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler”.

MIS should be developed assuming that learners do not have stable internet access, have no other materials except the textbook, or may be academically weak and have poor comprehension skills. reading.

Content standards and performance standards should be clearly stated when learners know what is expected and how they are doing.

The content of the MIS is organized and sequenced in such a way that the structure is clear to learners, explained in simple language using a conversational and encouraging tone.

Where appropriate, illustrations, diagrams and infographics are used in place of words to facilitate understanding.

At strategic points in the MIS, learning activities (at various cognitive levels) are inserted, which get learners to do things and actively engage with key concepts, principles and theories.

Quizzes, exercises and questions are introduced allowing learners to assess their performance and, based on the feedback, to take corrective action themselves.

With the SIM, learners can follow their own progress and know what they understand and what they do not understand about the material.

Throughout the MIS, learners receive guidance on how to study the field, apply the learned content, and make connections to their previous experiences.

The SIM is designed to be attractive and engaging for learners, and the specified workload is aligned with the time they are able to allocate given the number of subjects taken each semester.

MIS material is segmented into short, manageable chunks to make learning easier (this is how new generation learners like it).

The Ministry of Education can organize groups of experienced teachers and subject matter experts to meet online and write MISs for different school subjects.

Instructional designers, editors and graphic designers should be posted for each MIS that will collect and organize the material into a comprehensive learning package.

MIS can be downloaded by learners and printed out for use, and for those who do not have internet access, printed materials can be mailed to them.

Of course, this exercise will cost money, but the money spent far exceeds the learning loss experienced by poor learners in urban and rural areas, which accumulates with each passing day while waiting for internet access. and devices.

I wrote about sixty SIMs for my diploma, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate which do not necessarily have a good internet connection and which are the happiest to be able to read the “essential” content offline independently for each course.

Teacher Dr John Arul Phillips is Dean of the Faculty of Education and Cognitive Sciences at Asia e University. Comments: letters @ thesundailycom