As the nation continues to work together to flatten the Covid-19 curve, recent effort has seen the number of daily cases decreasing, leading to the reopening of various sectors, including education. With schools reopening their doors, many of these institutions have begun reverting to a face-to-face approach for their lessons after spending much of the past year teaching and learning digitally during the pandemic.
To find out what the future holds for digital learning, Google Malaysia hosted Voices of Education, a live streamed session where thought leaders and educators shared their learnings on how digital learning has supported the education moments throughout the pandemic. Panelists of the livestream also shared on how digital learning can be further integrated and sustained for the future education in the form of hybrid learning.
At this livestream, Dr Sumitra Nair, Vice President and Head of Digital Skills and Jobs at Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) gave her opening remarks to the importance of digital learning in paving the nation towards a digital-centric future especially in jobs.
“The onset of Covid-19 has accelerated digitalisation globally and Malaysia is no exception from this. As trends in jobs are moving towards digital, it is crucial that educators prepare the students to get up to speed with digital education so as to equip them with the necessary skills needed to stay relevant with the growing trend,” Dr Sumitra added.
Speaking on the future of education, Dr Wagheeh Shukry, Deputy Director for Educational Technology & Resources Division (BSTP) of the Ministry of Education (MoE) acknowledged that the pandemic has sparked the need for educators to adopt various technologies to carry out digital learning for their everyday lessons. In view of this, the launch of Digital Educational Learning in Malaysia (DELIMa) in June last year was timely to support the need for digital education.
At the onset of the pandemic, the DELIMa platform saw a total of 1.9 million logins for students, with a total of 332,000 teachers using the platform. That number has since grown as of December 2020, with a recorded growth of 67% in student logins onto the platform to a total of 3.4 million, while the total number of logged-in teachers grew to 436,000, an increase of 17%.
“To further enhance digital learning through DELIMa, we will be rolling out a couple of new advanced features in this platform. Some of these include new metrics and dashboards that will help teachers to understand individuals who are able to cope with the lessons or not, then using this opportunity to personalise their lessons to the needs of the students,” Dr Shukry added.
This session also saw the inclusion of Azlina Kamal, Education Specialist UNICEF Malaysia, Cheryl Ann Fernando, CEO of PEMIMPIN GSL, Ahmad Firdauz, Head Of Programme 2 at Genius Kurnia and Emira Nabila, school teacher at SMK Pasir Gudang who each shared their experience and insights towards digital education. This session was moderated by Zeffri Yusof, Head of Communications and Public Affairs
Speaking on her experiences at the ground level, Emira illustrated her everyday lessons by using platforms such as Google Docs to assist and encourage her students to spark new discussions and instill a habit of providing feedback among themselves. She added that an environment such as this allows students to progress better as they learn from each other’s mistakes while being conscious of their own progresses as well.
“With access to digital tools, lessons are now more compelling and this leads to greater engagement among students. This also provides students the opportunity to venture into some of these subjects independently and allow self-access learning, a culture which may not be present during the conventional classroom approach,” Emira added.
On the view of inclusivity, Firdauz spoke on how parents with special needs children will need to take a different approach when it comes to learning at home. This begins by determining specific behavioural goals that they wish to achieve within a period of time. Additionally, online platforms such as Google Forms are utilised as a medium to receive feedback from the parents and students on their progress.
“For students with special needs, digital learning via video helps as these students are more attentive to visuals. In this regard, it is also important that the videos we show are within a specific time limit so as to maximise their learning as each of their attention span varies,” Firdauz added.
Other than the educators themselves, Cheryl shared that the school administration plays an equally important role in ensuring that digital education is continued. To achieve this, Google Sheets was used as a platform by the administrator to analyse the challenges faced in a school and plan the next steps into solving the identified issues.
“A unique example demonstrated by one of the Tamil school leaders was how she brought the parents into a Google Meet session where they were given an exam to determine their knowledge on the various digital learning tools. In this regard, they can gauge their knowledge and help these parents get familiarise with these tools, allowing them to guide their own children as well,” Cheryl added.
Speaking on Malaysia’s overall education effort, Azlina applauded MoE’s launch of DELIMa which proved its usefulness immediately when the pandemic landed in the country. On this note, she also pointed out the availability of other platforms such as the Komuniti Guru Digital Learning that allows fellow educators to upskill themselves and share their own learning resources.
“When it comes to accessibility issues, we believe that there are solutions to approach this. An example of this is to conduct a ‘multiple deprivation analysis’ that allows parties involved to determine the specific unique accessibility issues faced in various parts of the country. It is then with such data that we can continue to collaborate with relevant partners to solve these determined issues, be it be devices, connectivity and so forth,” added Azlina.
As we move towards recovery from the pandemic, digital learning will continue to play a vital role in supporting the nation’s education system and lead Malaysia to a digital-savvy nation, in both proficiency and skills To watch a replay of the full Voices of Education livestream on the Google Malaysia YouTube channel, click here.