Back in early 2020, our world took a turn to isolation as a pandemic was announced. Little did we know, it lasted for 2 years. Every sector was affected as everything turned online, and everyone was stuck at home, working remotely. With that, education was forced online too. Teachers couldn’t physically meet with their students and interact with them and likewise, students could only meet with their teachers online. It seemed like everyone was disconnected, and yet connected digitally at the same time. Although online classes became a quick alternative for education to resume, teachers and students had very little time to adapt, from learning how to use virtual meetings, to investing in proper equipment for better quality of teaching.
We believe that online classes has potential to replace physical classes in the future, provided with the right circumstances and maturity from students. For now, there are limitations and barriers to online classes as compared to physical classes, especially interactions, activities and distractions. Learning in the 21st century is based on triggering students’ logical and critical thinking skills. With that, the best way to learn is by solving problems, through scenarios and activities that stimulate higher order thinking from the students, thus discussions are prompted by students to solve problems together.
Interacting virtually with a whole class is never the same feeling as it is in real life. This is because realism often brings the best interactions in classes, where expressions and emotions can be seen clearly in those interactions. Students might be withdrawn from speaking their opinions during online meetings which prompts meaningful discussions in the classroom itself. Oftentimes, these meaningful discussions are found to be in physical classrooms, where students are more likely to share their thoughts within a safe environment.
In many cases, online learning is not healthy if done over an extended period of time, especially for students who are struggling to catch up. The reality is that students in Malaysia are not taught to prioritise even at college. Thus, those that took the initiative to plan well for their studies are more likely to succeed in online learning, while others will slack off whenever they get the chance to, which indicates that online studies require students to put on their adult pants, be mature and wise in making decisions that will be beneficial for the long run.
Furthermore, online learning means everyone will be able to attend class anywhere, especially from the comfort of their own homes. While that may not seem bad, it most definitely is as students will be easily distracted with their surroundings, especially their beds, phones and the fridge. They might think that “My teacher can’t see me, surely there won’t be any consequences”, the consequences will be the halting of their learning and study for the career of their choice.
It is never a student’s choice to choose their study modes, but rather it should be discussed with approved their teachers if they are mature enough to be responsible for their own learning. The better question to ask yourself today is this: “Why should I join online classes when my instructor is availing himself physically in the classroom now?”. Although some reasons such as long travelling durations or having to cross states to find accommodation, or even just waking up late and deciding to join online classes because “I won’t miss anything because I’m still present virtually.” then proceeds to go away from keyboard (AFK). The attitude that you set for yourself to be complacent will affect how likely you are going to succeed in your studies which then leads to you being unable to start a career of your desire, because you chose to take advantage of a school’s system to study online.
Similarly to most experiences in life, being physically present in class with peers and teachers gives a sense of realism for students. Not only will they develop interpersonal relationships with their peers and teachers, but they too will learn effectively when discussions flow naturally throughout lessons to solve problems, and getting the satisfaction of completing tough assignments with guidance from the teachers and collaboration with like-minded peers who share similar interests and passions in their careers.
Support is also easily accessible for students who realise that they need to catch up on topics where they lack understanding while they study with their peers, which in return will be a motivational factor for them to study more, helping them to succeed together as a class so that they may advance together in their careers.
Here at Forward School, we are going back to fully physical classes where we believe programming can solve real world problems and should be learned through practice and application, developing critical and logical thinking. Students get their hands dirty in learning programming through code-along sessions with their instructors, and digging deep into the discussions with classmates for solving problems.