E-learning catches on during MCO period
Published on: Thursday, April 09, 2020
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Dr Ooi said students ask more questions during online learning.
KAJANG: E-learning is fun and not boring, said Dr Leong Kah Hon of Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar) Department Of Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Green Technology (FEGT).

Online teaching with Dr Leong is usually lively and interactive. He usually starts his online class with an interactive session, “Hello students, can you hear me? Give me thumbs up if you can” He would ask his students on an upbeat note. 

His students would reply by giving a thumbs-up emoticon or leave informal messages like “yesssss” or sometimes they give funny comments.

“Students tend to be more relaxed at home and many times you can see the funny comments given by them and it is good because they are paying attention.  Students who are normally quiet in class will ask questions online and this is good.  In general, students actively ask questions and many even have a live chat with me during my lecture. I am glad to see that learning from home has become fun for them,” said Dr Leong

“My lectures are conducted usually on Microsoft Teams and it is an excellent platform for interactive lectures and live online discussions with his students. Microsoft Teams also allows both the lecturer and students to record the teaching, which will be very useful for students to review the lectures at their own pace and for revision at a later time.”

Dr Leong uses Microsoft Teams for his lectures and he integrates it with Office applications such as Word and PowerPoint. 

It is much easier to upload all his teaching materials and he can also create multiple classes to make everything more organised. But what he likes the most is the “blur background” function that allows him to blur his background while he is conducting a live video lecture. 

This will avoid students paying more attention on his background than his lectures and it also protects his privacy at home. This minimises distractions during his lectures.

Both lecturer and students need to adapt for a total learning experience 

“When I first started my online teaching, I had no clue at all if my students would understand me and I was worried because I could not see their facial expressions during my lectures. I usually gauge their responses during lectures by looking at their faces and I would pace my lectures accordingly. 

However, with online teaching I wasn’t sure initially if I could engage them in my class,” said Dr Ooi Boon Yaik from the UTAR Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Information and Communication Technology. 

“However, my perception changed once the online classes started. I was very happy to see my students asking questions and communicating with me online, more than my usual lectures in class. Perhaps it is the relaxing environment at home that made them less inhibited and ask more questions. 

“Students, I feel, are very comfortable in front of their computers at home than sitting in the classroom. Therefore, they are bolder in asking questions using text chat. This is a good thing.”

Dr Ooi found that video lectures are a good way to allow students to study at their own pace. In physical programming classes, there will be space and time constraints as there are just too many steps and points that a student needs to remember. However, with recorded videos, students can repeat, fast forward or even slowdown the tutorials to suit them without interrupting others. 

 “We have to think out of the box and create a learning experience where the students can think, interact and participate online while learning the contents,” added Dr Ooi. The unprecedented MCO has left lecturers with no choice but to bring the classes and paperwork online. Due to the short notice, it is very challenging for students who are learning online for the first time. 

They need to make adjustments to their schedule and allocate time to do online studies. Dr Ooi learnt that an educator should trust his students, stop spoon-feeding them, and give them time to explore and discover their passion. 

After all, students need to develop their own internal motivation to achieve life-long learning. He is looking forward to incorporating the online teaching experience into his conventional classroom in the near future.



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