Students have had to adapt to new ways of learning in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Focus spoke with one to better understand the student perspective on education today.
Keat Soriththeavy, an undergraduate student majoring in International Relations at Pannasastra University of Cambodia, is one of countless students taking online classes on a daily basis. Adapting to self-guided study and education modernization is a new approach, which she says provides her an opportunity to gain new experiences in learning for personal growth on digital platforms, while implementing preventive measures for Covid-19.
What are your opinions on digital classes?
I reckon digital classes are a great and flexible alternative, as we are not allowed to gather in a big group during the pandemic; education institutions must conduct classes online to keep students learning.
Sitting at home studying for three hours through a digital platform is a new experience for me and other students. Sometimes I become bored and drowsy, as it is mostly self-study and difficult for discussions or face-to-face communication with friends.
It has also pushed me to be a self-reliant student, though, which is the bright side of this revolution.
How have you prepared for online classes?
A good internet connection is absolutely necessary for an online class and should be strong enough to receive clear voice and image. I also need to prepare a book, a pen, and water, and fully charge my computer.
Moreover, physical and mental preparation is a must in order to get information to the fullest extent in this circumstance; the teacher will be only a guide and the student is the main player.
What are the challenges of long-distance learning?
The main challenge is instability of the internet connection interrupting my learning and blocking me from accessing online classes. Some teachers lack digital literacy, such as how to share their screen and some other technical issues, resulting in less teaching and learning. I think it is not as efficient as a normal classroom.
Another challenge is that some students normally do not mute, causing disturbing noises and affecting the class environment. In addition, I was absent in many classes due to lack of self-discipline.
Finally, communication flow between teacher and student is sometimes confusing and time-consuming; the amount of time is insufficient for questions from students.
Have you received positive or negative experiences from digital learning?
I have been digitally learning over two months, and the positive experience I gained is more self-guided research assignments, compared to the old styles of studying. Plus, it has broadened my knowledge in each lesson more than I thought, as I need to do all the work myself, not depending on my team or educator like before.
My negative experience would be spending a longer time understanding new concepts, rather than learning it from the teacher. Furthermore, with zero face-to-face communication and teamwork, it is difficult to develop a good relationship between educators and learners. Also, lack of preparation and doing other stuff during the class by some students; I found it distracting and annoying.
Do you feel satisfied with the “education revolution”?
I, for the most part, like the new ways of learning, as I do not have to commute at night time back and forth and I can study from home, coupled with the opportunity to adapt to a new way of learning . However, due to frequently unstable internet connection, I miss out on some content and I am annoyed by noises from some classmates’ backgrounds.
Do you know when schools will reopen? Do you have any suggestions to improve the modernized teaching/learning methods?
I am not certain when schools will be reopened, and I think everyone is awaiting the announcement from the Ministry of Education.
In order to improve digital learning platforms, schools should have a support team and provide training on digital literacy to minimize technical errors in classes. For example, educators should be able to utilize features of digital platforms such as screen sharing and muting. This is essential as some teachers, especially the older generation, have not adapted to the technology, especially in education.
Additionally, strengthening rules and regulations for better punctuality and curriculum should be considered, and it would be greatly appreciated if there would be more quizzes.