James (on video) conducting Additional Mathematics lessons via Google Classroom with his students.

KUCHING: Schools across the country are forced to temporarily close due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however, this has also allowed teachers and students to adopt online learning. 

Thanks to technology, students are able to catch up with their lessons through e-learning. 

Here, a teacher, wanting to be known as Cikgu James, from SMK St Joseph wasted no time in making sure his students do not miss important lessons during the movement control order (MCO). 

The Additional Mathematics teacher has been engaging with his students by using platforms such as Google Classroom, Google Hangout and Telegram to send study materials and conduct online classes. 

“Before the MCO, lessons carried on as usual. But with the MCO, teachers lost their usual way of conducting learning in classrooms. 

“Therefore, e-learning seems to become the only channel for teachers to make sure learning is not stopped among the students,” he said. 

He said before the crisis, the Education Ministry had been putting a lot of emphasis on e-learning, and now at least the teachers are trying their best to deliver. 

“Both ends are trying to increase the contact hours and minimise the so called ‘down time’ or ‘wasted time’ at home,” he said. 

James said many of the school teachers were very committed and positive in venturing into this new frontier and trying to ensure the students still learn even during the MCO. 

“I won’t be surprise our teachers are also learning more with this e-learning. During this challenging time of our country, I must admit I do learn more,” he said, adding that they are working very hard from home preparing lessons, homework and slides. 

He added that he managed to get the whole classroom of over 20 students to join lessons on Google Classroom. 

“I feel happy that at least my students are learning, not only through instruction to self-read but also through online class where interaction is important,” he pointed out. 

When asked how students in rural areas were coping as they might have limited access to the Internet, James said he was unsure about the situation but believed the teachers and students in rural areas faced even more challenging issues. 

“Having said that, we also need to realise that we, in the urban schools, are still not used to e-learning. The technical issues at both ends from teachers and students need to be addressed. 

“Personally, staring at a small handphone screen for two hours for one online teaching by a teacher is torturing to the eyes too,” he said. 

He added that the underprivileged too must not be forgotten as some could not afford gadgets such as a smartphone, tablet or computer, including the need to purchase data for connection. 

“I think we as teachers need to be alert and sensitive towards this group of students who find it very challenging to take part in e-learning without worries. We need to prepare alternatives for them like giving them reading materials and so on,” he said. 

He said that e-learning, however, should not solely rely on the teachers, as it also depend on students’ willingness to learn as well. 

“As for those who will be sitting for their Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 (PT3) and Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination this year, including final year university students, they need to continue learning and not waste any time. Students must not stop learning and assume this MCO as an extended holiday otherwise we will all be in trouble,” he stressed. 

James, who is also the first senior assistant of the school, said he hoped the students could benefit from this e-learning experience. 

“I am very thankful to all the teachers. While the frontliners are working very hard to protect us from harm, teachers are working hard from home to keep our students learning. I salute the frontliners and at the same time appreciate the work of all the teachers.

“I am sure that together we will be able to pull through this challenging time. Remember, stay at home for the safety of everyone,” he said. 

Meanwhile, a Form Four student, Isaac Law, said he was still not getting used to studying online. 

“It is quite difficult to focus at home because there is a lot of distraction, while I feel it is better to attend school and study in the classroom. 

“For Additional Maths lesson in school, the teacher will assign us into a group of four and we solve the questions together which is much easier and faster to understand and remember the formula,” he said. 

He hoped this Covid-19 crisis would end soon so that he could head back to school quickly and not miss anymore lessons.