PdP: Students’ must have good internet accessibility

PdP: Students’ must have good internet accessibility

KUALA LUMPUR: The move by public and private tertiary institutions to switch to online teaching-and-learning (PdP) following the Movement Control Order (MCO) which was initially welcomed by all, has now hit the brakes.

There are now claims that the approach is unrealistic as the move was made without considering the internet accessibility of the students which would affect the quality of learning.

Last Wednesday, public university student Al Uzair Ahmad Zahari launched a petition on change.org which he titled ‘Extension of study for all Higher Education Institution (HEI/IPT) in Malaysia’.

He said the tertiary institutions have not ensured that all students could switch to the online PdP mode due to limitations such as access to communications and sources.

Lecturer in Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Education Faculty associate professor Dr Wan Marzuki Wan Jaafar told Bernama, there were students who did not have good internet access, making it difficult for them to benefit from the online PdP method.

“With the current COVID-19 situation, we do not want the students leaving their homes in search of learning material. So, they must have good access to the internet that they can share the learning material with their classmates such as on WhatsApp and the short messaging service (SMS).

“The intention of the universities is to fill the time of the suspended classes with online learning but the universities must consider factors like internet access and the financial burden of buying internet packages,” he said.

He said with the extension of the MCO from March 31 to April 14, the universities should consider postponing or extending the semester as proposed by some students, so that the students could equally benefit from the PdP and the quality of learning is not sacrificed.

Marzuki added, that most universities followed the semester system for student intake, which is in February and September.

As such, he said, the online PdP could now be extended until July or August which is usually the end-of-semester break for students.

Meanwhile, lecturer at the Unirazak’s Graduate School of Business, emeritus professor Dr Barjoyai Bardai said, some universities in developed countries like America have rescheduled their learning sessions to allow students to reflect and absorb knowledge better.

“For instance, those who are pursuing their doctorate degrees are encouraged to finish their studies in eight or nine years.

“In Malaysia, our culture insists that students graduate quickly, within two years of registering for the PhD, I feel that postponing the studies for a short while, or for one semester is not a problem and will help the students,” he said.

He said the online PdP is a learning method currently used in universities worldwide and would limit student movement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Previously, it was seen as impractical and unsuitable as many of the universities which offered it were not recognised, but things have changed now, with even countries like Saudi Arabia which did not recognise PdP now using it,” he said.

Barjoyai said the skills of the teaching force in the country must be improved and students given the capability to adjust to the online teaching method.

On March 20, the Ministry of Higher Education allowed all tertiary institutions to implement online teaching-and-learning on condition that all the students had access to the lecturers and infrastructure.

President of the Student Representation Council (MPP) in Universiti Teknologi Mara, Muhammad Nursyahmi Shaare said, the universities must also consider the view of students and the MPP.

He was confident that the decision was the best for present times, and hoped students will give the faculties time to find the best approach for the online teaching method.