Online Learning during COVID19: A Wake-Up Call for Malaysian Universities
It’s not really accurate to say how students can do online banking, online shopping, but can’t do the same for online learning. Why? Banking and shopping are optional things, which they can choose not to do when there is no access.
But when you say online learning is the only way, you’re technically making it compulsory, hence students (especially those without proper connectivity at home) will be left out. They will be frustrated by the fact that they couldn’t load certain materials/content properly or participate actively. Even now I have received text messages from students in remote areas that say “Is it true we are going to go online fully? How am I going to particiapte, sir?”. We have to accept the fact that connectivity is still a problem in Malaysia.
When these affected students (mostly from B40) are on campus or nearby the university, proper interventions can be taken (like providing Free WiFi) but when they are back at home in areas where network coverage is poor or doesn’t exist at all, the challenge grows.
Yes, we can still continue with it, but chances are the learning experience for some will not be as good as it seems. Not to mention resistance from lecturers who are so used to teaching face-to-face and need more time to prepare themselves (not sure how long they need though haha).
Readiness aside, the willingness to take the situation seriously and provide enough infrastructures to support such move is even more crucial. Telcos, for one, can be more proactive to assist.
Online learning is indeed what students have experienced but to some of them, they are only able to fully reap the benefits of online learning when they are given assistance like staying in residential colleges with Free WiFi or when they purposely relocate themselves (renting near campus instead of staying back home) to areas where coverage is better.
“Some”, maybe a small number, but these “some” can add up and regard such learning experience a nightmare that they would rather try to avoid.
It is also a wake-up call for all of us to work together in closing the gap.