The current pandemic has taught us how to improvise on many things as most of our daily activities were ground to a halt. Among the things that we have learned was to rely on the internet to get our tasks and goals done.
Encouraging active participation and lively debates
Recognising the importance of the world wide web during the pandemic, local college Technology College Sarawak (TCS) utilised the cyberspace to organise their new student orientation programme.
Speaking to TCS’ director of international relations, Aziza Aznizan on their efforts to organise an orientation session during the pandemic, she said that it is important that new students undergo orientation as it is “the first step one takes into the next chapter in their life.”
Despite orientation being the last thing on everyone’s mind now, Aziza believes in the opposite. “Orientation is essential to prepare an individual for a huge milestone. It eases teenagers into the process.” According to Aziza, going through college to pursue a diploma or a degree is like a transition between adolescence and adulthood.
An orientation can help prepare students on what is to come in their new environment. Furthermore, Aziza said that an orientation session helps open up a regular, reserved and shy Malaysian.
According to her, Malaysian students are naturally shy and incredibly reserved. This was due to the typical teachings instilled during their time in school, that a student is supposed to be quiet, submissive and very disciplined.
“But the same teacher also expect us to be world debating champions! Therefore, an orientation programme works as an ice breaker and help new students to acclimatise themselves and be comfortable in the new environment where we encourage active participation and critical thinking,” Aziza added.
Orientations can also pave the way for students to build new friendships, in order for them to avoid feeling lonely or homesick once college starts.
The orientation programme in TCS has always been designed to re-invent the students’ thought process. However, with barriers such as the movement control order (MCO) and the dangers of the Covid-19 pandemic still lurking, TCS went online to organise their orientation.
The programmes conducted were designed by Aziza, alongside the academic department of TCS. “The must-haves are activities such as the ice-breakers and ones that put the students out of their comfort zone and challenge their diffidence. And the most important ones are activities that allow them to exercise their critical thinking.”
The virtual orientation was conducted via Whatsapp, Google Classroom and Facebook. The activities included were among the current trending challenges popular on TikTok, Facebook and Instagram. The activities include the “flip switch”, “don’t rush”, and “broom” challenges.
Other than that, to encourage active participation and lively debates, the new students were engaged in video calls with people from Spain, USA, Oman, Panama and others. “We prepared a topic of discussion and they would discuss it openly.”
This session, according to Aziza, also provide the opportunity for students to virtually connect with different people. “And it also encourages the students to not only communicate in English, but also put them out of their comfort zone.”
There were also other activities such as watching Ted talks and answering the “How well do you know me?” quiz.
The only major challenge of the first-ever virtual orientation was weak internet connection, which limited tsome of the students’ engagement in certain activities.
However, to overcome the difficulties, Aziza said that the TCS team provided different engaging activities for them. “For example, we had a tongue twister challenge where they had to read out a tongue-twisters and voice record it.”
At the end of the day, Aziza was thankful that the virtual orientation went well. “There is a high possibility that we will continue to conduct online-based activities in the future. Technology brings people together and makes it fun to explore new ways to engage with one another.”