Archive for the ‘Effective Teaching and Learning’ Category

Make remote learning a norm

Sunday, May 10th, 2020

New norm: Digital learning will continue to be a crucial part of post-MCO education, experts say. – File photo

COVID-19 has brought the world to a standstill but it has also helped pinpoint weaknesses in the education sector and presented opportunities for new norms and changes to kick in.

But, sufficient government funding is a pre-requisite for any sort of meaningful reform, Universiti Malaya (UM) Faculty of Education dean Prof Dr Rohaida Mohd Saat said, adding that effective management of the Education Ministry’s RM64.1bil budget for Year 2020 is imperative for the education system to move forward.

The government can also consider creative means of financing such as cross-subsidisation, crowdsourcing or CSR models, said Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) acting deputy vice-chancellor (academic and international) Prof Datuk Dr Ahmad Farhan Mohd Sadullah.

A post-MCO budget, said Malaysian Economic Association deputy president and Sunway University Jeffrey Sachs Centre on Sustainable Development senior fellow Prof Dr Yeah Kim Leng, could be better managed if a spending review is conducted.

“Reprioritisation is needed to address the pandemic’s impact on schools. Reviewing the budget offers an opportunity to strengthen the education system’s resilience.

“The first step is to ensure that the necessary funds are available to support the implementation of remote teaching, learning and monitoring in all schools, in case another crisis occurs.

“Rural and ill-equipped schools should be given greater attention to address unequal availability and access to digital resources and remote learning. It is important that both students and teachers are equipped with the necessary tools.”

Noting that a post-MCO budget should prioritise the development and use of digital resources and capabilities to improve educational outcomes, he said it is advisable to increase resources to create sharing platforms for teaching and learning resources among public and private institutions.

Pointing out that the ministry’s total operating and development budget was raised by 6.4% to RM64.1bil in 2020 from RM60.2bil in the previous year, Prof Yeah, who is also an external member of Bank Negara’s monetary policy committee (MPC), said the adverse impact on the education sector could be mitigated by reallocating, reprioritising or postponing spending on the various activities and programme should a budget cut materialise.

“Allocations for services and supplies, assets and grants can be redirected towards activities and programmes that maintain health and safety of students, maximise student learning, support teachers and staff, and sustain operational effectiveness.”

He added that schools, education districts and state education departments should also conduct their own budget reviews to identify changes in needs and spending priorities in the post-MCO environment.

“Pooling and sharing of teaching and learning resources as well as holding joint programmes and activities could be explored to lower cost and maximise utilisation of resources.

“Engaging the community in funding extra-curricular activities that benefit students by exposing them to the larger societal issues and challenges can also be done, ” said Prof Yeah.

Pointing out that the ministry has implemented outcome-based budgeting as evidenced by the summary of achievements of the targeted outcomes accompanying its annual budget, he said further scrutiny of the reported progress and achievements together with the adoption of external yardsticks and third party independent assessment by educational experts would be helpful to identify weaknesses in implementation and improve the budgeting process.

New norms

Besides making improvements on Internet accessibility and ICT facilities, Prof Ahmad Farhan said the current exam-centric, fast-paced education system needs to change. This has become painfully evident during the MCO.

The current system’s definition of success is narrow and based mainly on grades rather than outcome attainment as well as competency and character building.

“The same instructional approaches have remained for years. It was very difficult to change the educators’ mindset and the way they teach, despite learners having already adapted to new ways of learning.

“Educators want to stay in their ‘comfort zone’ as they want learning outcomes to be met. They are often unwilling to experiment with new approaches fearing that the learning process will breakdown, ” he said.

Sharing his sentiment, Prof Rohaida said educators of our ‘traditional system’, especially at school level, do not know how to proceed with classes when a shift to e-learning became necessary.

Teachers’ attitude towards technology – which is linked with their readiness to use new teaching methods – must change.

“Teachers need technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) to enable them to use the right tools and deliver lessons based on the nature of the subject.

“Training is already in place at varsities and at teacher training institutes (IPG). In-service teachers too have been given training to upgrade their competencies in technology-based instructions. But the question is have teachers been integrating technology in their classrooms?”

Sarawak Teachers’ Union (STU) vice-president Adam Prakash Abdullah hopes that an education system free of the “conventional pen and paper test” will become reality after the pandemic.

“Rescheduling the school academic calendar and public exams as an immediate measure is reasonable but this action plan must be reviewed for the coming school session.

“Public exams will have to be thought through and appropriate alternate assessment has to be the new norm in schools and institutions of higher learning. The conventional written test has to go and assessments must be revamped.”

Parental support

The community must be empowered and parents and teachers must rally together to build a strong support system amid this crisis, said Prof Ahmad Farhan.

“Parents play a role in educating children when they are at home. This includes providing a conducive environment for learning and keeping distractions at bay. Parents must get their priorities right and they must be committed, ” he said, adding that teachers and schools need strategies to ensure that learning outcomes are achieved.

“Educators must give personal attention to each student if effective learning is to happen.”

Prof Rohaida said some parents have the perception that learning will take place by simply making the child sit in front of a computer.

“Children need support when using online platforms. But parents and guardians too need pedagogical competencies in assisting their children with online lessons.”

She, however, is optimistic that things will fall into place eventually.

Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said schools must maintain clear and constant communication with parents. A guide for parents who have to multitask between remote work, household responsibilities and helping their children with school work, is needed.

Parents and guardians can also build their own support system via chat and social media groups to exchange ideas and experiences.

“We need a video library with content developed according to the national syllabus and curriculum, and accessible via digital devices.

“Rethink the scheduling of classes in line with remote learning. Physical attendance is only for teachers and students to touch base, ” said Noor Azimah.

This method of learning however largely depends on students’ motivation, she added.

“Motivation must come from students themselves. Unfortunately, it will inadvertently filter those who want to learn and those who are less interested, ” she said.

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin said everyone must come together to improve the learning process.

Acknowledging that it is easier said than done, he said not many parents and teachers are in regular contact.

“Most parents only meet the teacher on Report Card Day or when the child has an issue in school. Many do not even bother with Parent Teachers Association (PTA) meetings.

“Perhaps it is time to take a cue from private schools and enhance the parent-teacher engagement sessions, ” he said, suggesting that classrooms be made smaller to make it easier for teachers to get to know and engage with the students and parents.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan said the union is in the midst of conducting research into pedagogy for social distancing.

“We are aware that students from remote areas are losing out due to lack of infrastructure.

“Ensuring connectivity to the whole country is a major reform which needs careful planning and deep pockets.

“At the moment, the ministry has been trying to reach out to students through educational TV programmes that are in line with the syllabus, ” he said, adding that teachers need to be retrained to conduct distance or online teaching.

“Once the teachers have the skills, they will do whatever is necessary to ensure their students learn.

“Teachers are resourceful and do their best despite the many constraints, ” said Tan.

Teaching through the telly

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

COME April 28, students would have been away from school for over a month – assuming the movement control order (MCO) is not extended.

Assuring parents that a two-week notice would be given before classes recommence, Education Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin, however, said the closure of schools did not mean that students could just sit at home and not learn.

“Home-based learning will continue based on methods deemed suitable by the teachers. Whether you are in school or at home, learning can take place.”

On Wednesday, Mohd Radzi said they would continue to improve TV Okey so that students could get the full benefits of learning from home.

The ministry, he said, prioritises student access to teaching and learning, regardless of whether it is at school or at home.

“We talk a lot about online learning but the reality is that having adequate and proper hardware at home remains an issue.

“Our online learning readiness survey, involving over 670,000 parents, found that the lack of access to gadgets at home was a big problem. Of some 900,000 students sampled, 36.9% do not have the hardware.”

Based on the survey, almost half have smartphones but only 5.7% own tablets, 6% have their own personal computers, and 9% have latops.

“This is why we ask teachers to take into consideration the limitations – for example, parents having to share a laptop with their three kids – when deciding on the best mechanism to teach their students, ” he said, adding that limited Internet access and the lack of gadgets at home coupled with the closure of schools and the MCO, can be pressuring for parents. He said this when announcing that all major national exams for 2020 have either been cancelled or postponed.

Instead of reinventing the wheel and spending millions of ringgit on television programmes, National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan said the ministry should look to social media and mobile apps like YouTube and TikTok.

The focus, he said, should be on promoting videos produced by good teachers with a strong online following.

CikgooTube – a platform for teachers to house videos of their lessons – is a step in the right direction but more support is needed, he said. Teachers must be trained to do research and to present the content in an engaging way.Education, he said, is constantly evolving.

“Can we keep up with the changes to ensure that our television programmes are relevant?

“Before spending our resources on content for television, the ministry must have a designated department to study the impact and effectiveness of the videos and programmes, recommend ways for teachers to come up with interesting clips, and look into rewards for those who produce good content. Measure viewer engagement time and identify teachers who are willing and able to do this as not everyone wants to be an ‘actor’.”

He said the ministry’s previous attempts to produce educational content have not been successful as the programmes were boring.

Unless this is addressed, it will be difficult to attract and engage young viewers, he said.

Instead of being exam-driven, the focus should be to disseminate information. Citing Sesame Street and Upin dan Ipin as good examples, he said an educational programme will only be popular if it is entertaining.

“We have to take an artistic approach. To produce interesting and effective educational content, lots of research, experimentation with different filming techniques and charismatic presenters are needed if we want it to be memorable for students.

“For example, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey had astrophysicist, author and science communicator Neil DeGrasse Tyson narrating.Perhaps we can get our local talents to help.”

Parents, he said, cannot be expected to sit and watch the programmes especially if they have several children studying in different levels.

“How can we expect parents to help explain subjects like Add Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology?


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Education Ministry launches CikgooTUBE for teaching and learning

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019
MOE director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin (third from left) speaking at the launch of the CikgooTUBE team. Also present was MOE’s Bahagian Sumber dan Teknologi Pendidikan Resource and Education Technology Division director, Shafruddin Ali Hussin (second from left) and Romizal Amir Rosdi (left). NSTP / ROHANIS SHUKRI.

KUALA LUMPUR: Triggered by the need to solve the problem of students’ disinterest to learn in the conventional classroom, the Ministry of Education (MOE) recently launched CikgooTUBE, a team comprising 500 teachers who create their own YouTube content to facilitate teaching and learning in school.

MOE’s Bahagian Sumber dan Teknologi Pendidikan (BSTP) Resource and Education Technology Division director Shafruddin Ali Hussin said that in line with the trends, teachers in CikgooTUBE are required to upload updated and upgraded teaching and learning videos unlike those currently in MOE’s EduWebTV channel.

“At the moment, the videos in the EduWebTV channel are ‘outdated’ in the sense that they are old and incompatible with the new curriculum.

“Teachers who join CikgooTUBE are expected to share knowledge and know-how on a wide range of subjects as well as upload videos on a fixed basis so that the pool of content can grow exponentially,” Shafruddin added.

He said this during the Segmen Kafe Cikgu, an informal talk session between himself, MOE director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin and a CikgooTUBE trainer Romizal Amir Rosdi at the launch.

Amin said that the ministry is encouraging teachers to create their own YouTube content to ensure students do not miss out on education.

“It is timely that teachers are creating their own YouTube content for teaching and learning in the classroom now. I feel that they are changing the landscape of education in Malaysia by doing so.

“The root of the matter is that teachers need to ensure their students go through the learning process no matter what. As it is widely understood that students are more interested in watching YouTube videos, this is one way of ensuring that students learn the subjects,” he added.

Romizal who teaches technical drawing and mathematics at SMK Sultan Abdullah, Chenderong Balai, Perak and also one of 35 pioneer teachers in YouTube video content creation in Malaysia said he did the videos so that students who do not understand his lesson in the classroom can review it again later.

“Those who are absent can also view the lesson and not be left out,” said Romizal who is known as Cikgu Romie on his YouTube channel and uses a green screen to record his lessons in the classroom.

It may take a bit of time to set up all my equipment, but once that is done, it is very simple to record the lesson and upload it.

“By watching the uploaded videos, teachers can also do a self-reflection on their lessons,” he added.

Cikgu Romie currently has two YouTube channels with over 2,000 videos under each.

Shafruddin said: “We aim to have around 10,000 teachers under CikgooTUBE in the future. They will be categorised according to subjects, levels and so on.

“The only issue we have at the moment is on copyright. We hope to sort that out soon and get the teachers’ permission to use their videos in our EduWebTV channel.”

At the launch, 200 teachers gathered to learn more about content creation for YouTube through sessions such as YouTube @ EduwebTV, Teacher Content Creator and the ‘CikgooTUBE Pencetus PdPc Bestari’ (CikgooTUBE a catalyst for innovative teaching and learning) Forum. The event was organised BSTP.

Teachers who are interested to join the CikgooTUBE team can go to this link:….

by Hanna Sheikh Mokhtar.

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E-learning to kick off next year

Monday, September 9th, 2019

Fun day out: Maszlee (with sunglasses) together with officials, teachers and differently abled children at the launching of the Merdeka Special Charity Run held at Xtreme Park in Pasir Gudang. — Bernama

PASIR GUDANG: Teachers in Malaysia will soon be able to teach their students through recorded materials from other outstanding teachers from next year onwards as part of the Education Ministry’s e-learning initiative.

Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the method will be introduced in schools as soon as possible as part of the ministry’s effort to speed up e-learning.

The Simpang Renggam MP pointed out that the method has already been tabled to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad several months back, and it was intended to ensure teachers would not be confined to their classrooms when teaching.

“We have several platforms that are currently being developed, and this is Dr Mahathir’s aspiration.

“The ministry is trying to start this programme next year and would make the announcement when the time is right, and maybe Dr Mahathir will officiate it,” Maszlee said when met after officiating the Merdeka Special Charity Run held at Xtreme Park here yesterday.

In a recent visit to Japan, Dr Mahathir was quoted by Bernama as saying that the government was looking into the possibility of using recorded lessons by selected teachers to be shared with other schools.

The method was aimed at, among others, simplifying and enhancing the quality of teaching back home, he said.

“We are trying to simplify teaching because (not all) teachers are the same, so what we want to do is make use of good teachers, record their lessons, and use the recorded lessons for other schools where teachers will guide the students,” he said.

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Proving success starts with independent learning

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

ONE of the ways to learn is through self-discovery. Discovery learning is in fact a form of enquiry-based learning whereby students are posed with questions, problems or scenarios rather than just an instructor presenting facts.

In a way, the students will have to find things out for themselves by looking into problems, and asking questions.

This form of learning is usually coupled with the presence of a facilitator who guides the student in identifying the problems and poses questions to direct the student to develop knowledge or discover solutions.

This form of learning is usually used in small projects and investigations, as well as in research.

Today the Kumon Method has helped students to study independently in a world that has increasingly become more diversified.

From humble beginnings

The Kumon programme uses a discovery learning method to help children develop critical-thinking skills while progressing independently through a carefully crafted curriculum.

The programme was the brainchild of Japanese high-school educator Toru Kumon, who in 1954, developed Mathematics worksheets on loose papers for his son Takeshi as a way for him to learn.

Toru wished for Takeshi to become fully prepared for the rigorous high school and college entrance exams in his future. With the success of the method Toru was encouraged to develop the Kumon Method and by the following year, a math centre using Kumon worksheets opened in Moriguchi city in Osaka.

By 1974, Kumon expanded overseas, establishing a New York centre, followed with centres in Taiwan in 1975, Brazil in 1977 and Germany in 1979. As enrolments outside Japan increased to 10,000, more centres were established — Hong Kong and Canada in 1980 and Australia in 1984.

Today the Kumon Method has helped students to study independently in a world that has increasingly become more diversified.

It is an ongoing process, with as the method is refined by closely observing students and learning from them.

In order to inculcate that joy, it is essential to start off the student at a point that they feel is comfortable for their abilities.

Learning through one’s own successes

The method essentially helps students to learn independently using worksheets, with guidance from Kumon instructors. When a child enrols with Kumon, the instructor will set a written assessment to gauge where the child’s ability stands.

Kumon instructors then create an individualised study plan that helps to build better study habits, concentration and understanding of fundamental topics.

As students progress, Kumon instructors will incrementally raise the difficulty level enough to keep them challenged and motivated. The instructor will update this plan regularly to match the ability of
each student.

This allows Kumon students to start studying at a point where they can solve problems easily without using age or school grade level as factors. Doing so allows students to experience the joy in learning.

When students find that they can they can solve problems themselves and receive a 100% score, that boosts their confidence and increases their anticipation to learn more, allowing them to advance to subsequent worksheets without difficulty.

But in order to inculcate that joy, it is essential to start off the student at a point that they feel is comfortable for their abilities.

This builds a solid foundation for study, to which students can independently develop their academic ability.

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Making learning amazing

Monday, June 24th, 2019
For Tenby Schools, a good student is one who has the self-motivated desire to see how far they can go, and it is committed to ensuring that their desire is realised.

For Tenby Schools, a good student is one who has the self-motivated desire to see how far they can go, and it is committed to ensuring that their desire is realised.

WHAT makes a good school? A better question is, “what makes a good student?”

Since its founding over 60 years ago, Tenby Schools has grown into seven campuses around Malaysia, offering both the International and Private National curriculum. More importantly, over the years, Tenby Schools has developed a culture where students are given the space to explore their potential and be the best they can be.

However, today we live in an age of unprecedented challenges and opportunities amidst rapid change. Changing education trends reflect schools’ attempts to provide students with the knowledge, skills and adaptability necessary to be 21st century citizens. But, while new methods and tools are good, for effective learning to happen, one must go deeper than just merely adopting these new methods and tools.

Tenby Schools takes a different perspective. From its years of experience, it understands that at its core, education is founded on the relationship between teachers, students and parents. As such, it is focused on supporting parents’ efforts to mould their child’s character, because Tenby Schools know that excellence in character will result in excellence in all that the child attempts.

As such, everything done at Tenby Schools is driven by the aim of optimising learning outcomes. Its teachers observe the children closely both inside and outside the classroom, while facilitating learning opportunities by challenging them on a personal, individual basis. Its goal is for its students to have amazing learning moments, when they reach a level beyond what they thought possible and can say, “I didn’t realise I could do that until now!”

For Tenby Schools, that’s what makes a good student. It is the self-motivated desire to see how far they can go. It is the confidence that comes from realising that their achievements are a result of perseverance through good struggle. It is the pride in knowing that they have become better versions of themselves. It is the hope in knowing that they can always be better. Our children can attain all this when they experience a school that empowers them to. For Tenby Schools, that is what makes a good school and that is what it is committed to be.

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Chalk-and-talk makes way for slides and videos

Sunday, March 31st, 2019
Zakwan Aqil Faisal making an attempt to answer questions by dragging items on the wall using his finger guided by his teacher, Fatin Izzati Mustapa (right). PICS BY AMIRUDIN SAHIB

GONE are the days when students sit down with textbooks, quietly in rows, while the teacher stands strategically in front of the classroom and imparts knowledge.

At SMK USJ 13, Selangor, students gather in a spot just outside the library called the Digital Den. They animatedly discuss a topic while referring to a digital display on a wall. The teacher acts as a facilitator for the students.

Formerly an open space, the Digital Den has been transformed into an outdoor class by adopting the Arvia Interactive Wall by Israk Solution. The digital tool can turn any flat surface including a concrete wall into an interactive whiteboard for learning and presentation.

History teacher Fatin Izzati Mustapa said students need to be engaged with learning to absorb lessons in a meaningful way, otherwise they can be distracted from teacher’s instruction.

“The Digital Den has brought a difference to the way teachers conduct lessons in class. It enables teachers to produce their own content including notes, slides, videos and practice questions.

“I like to prepare my teaching materials using videos because students tend to get sleepy in history class.

“During my class, I usually separate the students into groups to discuss a topic. This was a challenge in the classroom where we had to rearrange the seating. It was also time consuming. The outdoor class has made it easy and gives more freedom of movement for students to form study groups,” said Fatin Izzati whose students are at the Digital Den two to four times a week.

Form Two student Harleen Dev Kaur said that learning using the interactive wall helps her to overcome short attention span.

Harleen Dev Kaur

“I get distracted easily in class. However, colours, animation and music help a lot in improving my concentration. Some subjects like science and geography require a more visual approach.

For example, with the use of the interactive wall in science class, I can get a clear 3D image of the human heart. And we can zoom in too.

“Technology and gadgets make learning more fun. I am thrilled every time the class takes place at the Digital Den as I will learn something new and exciting.”

Classes at the Digital Den spark Zakwan Aqil Faisal’s creativity.

“I really like classes held in the outdoors. Learning outside the four walls of a classroom gives me freedom to think and learn in a new way,” said Zakwan, 14.

“The Arvia Interactive Wall offers more content on the subjects. In an interactive exercise at geography class, I can identify countries on the world map.”

After calibration, a computer screen is projected on the interactive wall. Teachers and students manipulate the elements projected on the wall by using their fingers as a mouse. Items can be dragged, clicked and copied which later can be transformed into text and saved.

Basic computer science (asas sains komputer) teacher Mohammed Syahrir Talib said that with the use of the interactive wall, students have developed a more positive learning attitude.

“Lessons at the Digital Den create a two way communication as students speak up and share their thoughts. This encourages them to think outside the box and be more creative.

“Some subjects are quite difficult for students due to their abstract nature. However, I am confident this new technology in our school can aid the teaching and learning process.

“The technology makes a lot of difference especially in time management when conducting a class. With the interactive wall, students can make the most of their time to learn a topic and answer questions.

The Arvia Interactive Wall enables teachers to produce their own content including notes, slides, videos and practice questions.

”Mohammed Syahrir, who is also coach for the school football team, added that he often uses the interactive wall to show students videos of football games.

“Playing football is all about visualisation thus, by watching videos relating to the sport, they can learn and analyse the tricks of the game.”

Fatin Izzati added that the traditional chalk-and-talk method of teaching is fast becoming obsolete in the 21st century.


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‘Bring your own device’ transforms teaching and learning

Friday, March 8th, 2019

THERE was a time when Sekolah Seri Puteri, Cyberjaya English teacher Dr Adzuhaidah M. Taha had to lug a heavy laptop to her classes along with a long adapter wire to connect it to the projector in the room. It was either that or vie with the other teachers in booking the computer laboratory for her lessons.

Things have become much easier and simpler for teachers and students since 2014 when the school management adopted the “bring your own device” concept. With the implementation of the concept, teachers and students use Apple’s iPad as their primary tool in the teaching and learning process in school.

So now, Adzuhaidah, warmly called Ms Adzu by her students, carries her iPad to all her classes. There is no need for her to bring along any wires as the Apple TV is available in class and she simply has to wirelessly connect her iPad to it.

Students carry out self-access learning using the iPad.

“iPad use at the school has been an eyeopener and an innovative way to teach students. Prior to its use, I used more of PowerPoint software, the chalk-and-talk method and other traditional ways of teaching,” she said.

“Through its use, I have become more creative in my teaching methods using Apple’s Pages, Keynote, iMovie and other software programmes and applications,” she added.

After practising four years of innovative teaching and learning using Apple technology, Sekolah Seri Puteri became the second Sekolah Berasrama Penuh, or fully residential school, and the seventh school in the country to be awarded the Apple Distinguished School status.

At an event late last year, the school received the award from Apple, along with recognition for 29 iChampion teachers and 60 Tech Leaders chosen from every batch of students to assist the others in transitioning to full use of Apple technology.

Nur Fatihah Mohamad Rizal of Form 5 Elit, one of the appointed Tech Leaders, said: “The status puts our school on a different level and I am still amazed at the recognition.

“Apple technology, especially Pages, has a sleek and convenient touch to it that helps a lot with work and assignments. It helps take our presentations to another level. Not only that, students are able to explore more and make discoveries outside the world of textbooks.”

She added that the technologies give students a deeper insight into their study preferences as some find that they do better with audio while others work better with visual apps. “Who can blame us if we prefer the use of these technologies as they make studies and classes so much more accessible?”

Fifth former Madihah Nabila Mohd Azlan from Kota, Negeri Sembilan said: “Education using advanced technology has made learning more interesting and effective.”

She added that Apple technology also makes communication between teachers and students easier especially if the teacher is not in school due to other work commitments. The same goes for students who submit assignments using the iTunes app.

“Teachers can highlight the assignment and comment on it, and students can make corrections without even meeting the teacher. Discussion and research can be done online too,” said Madihah Nabila.

“This proves that wireless education, and teaching and learning using modern technology have a huge impact on student learning and in increasing their ability to solve real-life problems.”

So what does it take to be recognised as an Apple Distinguished School? The road to becoming such a school is a long and arduous journey. Since Sekolah Seri Puteri embarked on the programme four years ago, it had needed to be continuously innovative in its approach to teaching and moulding students to become future global leaders. To this end, the iPad has proven to be a great tool in transforming the teaching and learning process as well as in assisting students in their co-curricular activities.

“Using the iPads has become secondhand nature to the students after a while,” said Adzuhaidah.

“Such use promotes critical and creative thinking which goes far beyond exams.”

The use of iPads has also given more students the opportunity to play music. For instance, they use the Garageband App to compose music and perform at events in and out of the country.

Students learn to code using the Swift Playground App, a vital skill in today’s digital world. They also use the apps in the iPad to assist in robotics competitions. For projects such as i-Garden, students scan the QR code to get information on plants in the school garden. For project o-Quip, students access past year exam questions and answer them online interactively. These apps naturally help to promote self-access learning in students. Other than that, the Fitivity app enables the basketball team, SCUD, to learn techniques of playing the game, while the iPad is used to record their games and helps them to improve on their performance.

Students from the SCUD basketball team using the Fitivity app to analyse their performance and technique in the game.

To enhance student learning, the iPad offers the use of augmented reality technology when learning science subjects. Making objects and experiments come to life makes it easier to understand concepts. Students record the process and progress of their science project via STREAM in iTunes U. Here, teachers can access their work and monitor their progress. Teachers store their teaching materials in iTunes U. Assignments can be given to the students if the teachers are not in school.

Last year, the students showcased their work that made use of augmented reality and multiple 3D modelling at the Digital Maker Fair. Adzuhaidah said that the “bring your own device” programme has had a positive impact on both teachers and students. Parents are also excited about the programme. As not all parents can afford to equip their children with an iPad, the school has 180 devices available for loan. Some PUTERI alumni members of the school also help poor students to buy iPads.

Zuraini Mohd Zain, whose daughter Zuhayra Ermyna Izehari is in 2 Pintar, said: “To be able to enrol my daughter into an Apple Distinguished School is a dream come true.

“Through various learning techniques using the iPad, I witnessed how this ‘magical’ tool helps students to reflect, be team players and develop problem-solving skills.

By Hanna Sheikh Mokhtar.

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Equipping teachers with useful tools

Monday, August 27th, 2018
Teachers participating in a peer assessment assignment during an NiE workshop held at the Muar district education office.

Teachers participating in a peer assessment assignment during an NiE workshop held at the Muar district education office.

Educators find there is much to be gained from language activities that can be tailored to suit all students.

IT’S no secret that teachers are bogged down with work. So when they are required to attend courses and workshops outside of school, many are wary if these sessions would be worth their while.

“I wanted to leave this workshop a little earlier, but I decided to stay until the end because there was much to be gained from it,” said English teacher Siti Atiqah Amir at a recent Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) workshop in Muar, Johor.

“The activities here were interesting and we learnt a lot. Students will definitely benefit from them – these activities will enhance students’ vocabulary. NiE also builds their confidence to speak up and share their ideas,” said the SK Parit Raja teacher.

This Malaysian diversified conglomerate is sponsoring education pullouts to 40 schools across Johor under Star Media Group’s English for Better Opportunities (EBO) project. Four NiE workshops for teachers and students were also included in this sponsorship to help teachers understand the methodology of using the newspaper as a resource to teach English.

EBO is a multi-level platform aimed at making immersive driven English language programmes interactive, fun and accessible to all levels of society.

Star-NiE freelance consultant trainer Shyamala Sankaran, assured the Muar teachers that NiE activities can be used for students of all proficiency levels.

She noted that each teacher’s context was different.

“The most important thing that teachers should know is how to adopt, adapt and improvise. Tweak the activities to suit your classroom.”

Allimalar Sugumaran from SK Lenga liked how much creativity and ideas were generated from the simple activities. The English teacher who teaches Years Three, Five and Six said that the workshop has definitely been useful.

“Now I have a lot of ideas to put to use in my classroom. I loved the group work. This is the first time I’m hearing about NiE. I have used The Star before but I have not heard of its education pullouts. I think the pullouts would be good guides for teachers.”

Another teacher Chua Wee Han from SJK(C) Pu Nan said that he enjoyed the group presentations.

“I enjoyed it because teachers shared many ideas during this part.

“Pupils gain knowledge and learn English through fun activities. The lessons are not boring at all,” he added.

Teacher Harisharma Mohd Jamil from SMK Bandar Maharani noted that the newspaper is alien to students these days.

“I would be happy if they just flipped through the newspaper. It will encourage reading as well as get students to use the dictionary as they will encounter new words.

“The NiE activities are applicable. Students will benefit from the activities, especially when we are focusing on 21st century teaching. This is a good platform for students to practise using the language confidently. The more they practise, the higher their confidence level.”

Apart from that, Harisharma added that she was able to meet new friends and gain new ideas at the workshop.

“It happens when we go for courses like this. And since we had group work, we exchanged a lot of ideas among ourselves.”

Muar district English language officer (primary school) Chew Ai Theng said that the newspaper is a really good learning resource.

“I think teachers should know that the newspaper is a really great tool. Not only can it make the activities come alive but also bring meaning to learning. Teachers do not need to spend time searching for material. The newspaper is rich with pictures, headlines and articles. So it all boils down to how skilled teachers are in using this resource.”

The NiE pullout, which comes with a copy of the newspaper every Wednesday, features syllabus-based topics for students in elementary, intermediate and advanced levels. With 33 issues per year, it provides creative ideas and ready-made activities to make language learning exciting and different for students.

By Emily Chan
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Do not deprive kids of freedom and fun

Sunday, June 17th, 2018
(File pix) A student being taught how to tie a climbing harness during a camping trip. Pix courtesy of NST Reader

WHEN I read about the ‘failings’ of the Malaysian education system, I strongly wanted to rebut with a ‘No’.

My school years were my best learning experience.

I do know a few things about learning experience because developing learning experience is what I do for a living in the United Kingdom. I have designed courses for clients such as the UK Ministry of Justice, analysed learning gaps for a top UK car company, trained an international non-governmental organisation, as well as developed compliance courses for the UK authorities.

Learning experience is the most important aspect in education.

Whichever pedagogic and andragogic approaches we choose, the key is learning experience. I think it is connected with stimulating the “happy ” chemicals in the brain — endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin.

My best learning as a child was in Malaysia. When I reflect on the learning experience of my children in the UK, I can sincerely say that their learning experience could not match mine. Yes, they have more opportunities in the UK. They went on field trips organised by the schools. They visited Spain, Switzerland and France. They have state-of-the-art equipment, dedicated and knowledgeable teachers, and nice lunches, too. They have meetups and parties with their friends.

But, something is missing. If I were to put a word to this type of

learning experience, it is “benign”.

Where is that supremely important, energy-bursting sense of adventure? I know that things have changed. School environments have changed. People and policies have changed. However, what child or adult doesn’t like a sense of adventure?

Perhaps that is why developmental psychologist Peter Gray stresses the importance of free play: “Children are designed by nature to teach themselves emotional resilience by playing in risky, emotion-inducing ways. We deprive children of free, risky play, ostensibly to protect them from danger. In the long run, we endanger them far more by preventing such play than allowing it. And, we deprive them of fun.”

My primary and secondary schools were a sanctuary where dreams were created, friendships fostered, ideas implemented and arguments lost with friends. In this world, teachers were bystanders. As long as we didn’t burn the school down, they were fine. We spent more than 10 hours there, even on Saturdays.

We owned our school. We raised funds through food sale to visit Penang and Pulau Pangkor. We collected funds to paint our classrooms and we did not even think of getting permission.

We just turned up on a Saturday morning with buckets of paint.

We listened to our head teacher, who taught us the most ludicrous way to swear (we were teenagers, you see) and for years, my colleagues were perplexed when I kept muttering shoes, shoes, shoes!

And, that freedom starts with the recognition of children’s right to education, trickling down to national legislation, shaping policies and guiding organisations (schools, colleges, nurseries, universities and the ministry ) in setting up their governance, functions and technical measures.

Despite the changing learning environments, one aspect of my learning remains to this day: freedom.

From freedom (we were free to paint our classes and organise events and trips) came empowerment (we raised funds and collaborated with other schools), and from empowerment we created (yes, we not the teachers or schools) our own learning experience and that experience became our foundation to be who and what we are today.

We are ordinary people. Are we millionaires? Chiefs of this and that? Prominent people? I suspect many of my friends are like me, ordinary people.

But the impact of fabulous early learning experience created an insatiable desire to learn — after completing my PhD in law, I ventured into project management, policy development, research, and human rights consultancy.

By Dr Suziana Shukor.

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