Creativity, Compassion and Covid-19: The New Normal of Learning

The Movement Control Order announced by the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has changed the landscape of Malaysia for the past six weeks (as of 27th April). Many businesses have ordered to close, costing RM2.4bil to the economy daily. Schools have extended their closure coming off a week of school holidays. Roadblocks between states and many other measures to reduce human to human transmission of the virus. 

Arus Academy, like many other organisations, has temporarily suspended our physical operations. We have taken our work online.

REACHING STUDENTS AT HOME

In the space of two weeks following the MCO, 3 of our weekly face-to-face student programmes have adapted to online learning. They are our Junior Maker Club (JMC), Young Maker Club(YMC) and Girls in Engineering Mathematics and Science (GEMS)

Our three programme lessons were conducted through Google Hangout Meets. Our contents are adapted for online learning for students to access using Google Classroom. We set up guides and sessions to help students ease in and adapt to online learning more effectively. From the student’s feedback on the lessons, there is only a slight difference in the overall experience comparing to our usual physical classes.

OVERCOMING CHALLENGES

No doubt with online learning comes technical challenges to some. According to the Minister of Education, Senator Mohd Radzi Md Jidin, more than 1/3 of students surveyed nationwide do not have access to electronic devices for online learning.

At Arus Academy, we do our best to provide the necessary hardware for our students. We loaned some of our students the donated laptops we received graciously from donors. We provide the learning kits comprising of Maker UNO kits for secondary students, Micro:bit kits for primary school students and make provisions for students so they can continue learning with us.

“It is great!”

WROTE TAN YI LI*, 13 FROM BUKIT MERTAJAM

COMPASSION IN LEARNING

In these unprecedented times for everyone, the measure of time versus learning progress has been redefined. All our online lessons are recorded and updated in Google Classroom. Students can watch the recordings in their own time if they miss classes. We understand some of our students do not have the convenience to join the classes at the prescribed time as they might not readily have both device and Internet access. For now, at least. 

To ensure swift and streamlined communication, all Arus teachers, students and their parents are in a single WhatsApp group for regular updates in each programme. 

This is our new normal. 

With a lot of uncertainty still ahead of us, teachers need to approach our students and ourselves with compassion. How are we doing after a month of online teaching and having to keep our household in order? How about our students? Are they feeling restless or tired, hopeful or happy? (We sent out a survey to check in with our students on how are they coping, how are they adapting and most importantly, how they are feeling). 

Tracking of grades and work continues, but deadlines will not be pursued as usual. We believe that everyone needs the space to figure out what works best in this unique period of our history. And that includes ourselves.

*Names of students have been changed.

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Maya Fragrande

Maya Fragrande

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