The COVID-19 pandemic has started to widen its net over Malaysia. There was a general feeling of fear over travelling to work or school as the number of infected and death increases. My MIT classes were supposed to be face-to-face but given the current situation, we have resorted to having online classes, in this case using Zoom and Microsoft Teams as the connecting platform.
I can understand how challenging it was for both instructors/lecturers and students to maintain their presence online and to interact during classes. Lecturers have an unenviable task to first ,get acquainted and acclimatised with the available platforms way before getting their students on board. Students on the other hand have varying levels of proficiency on IT and internet savviness that may sway their attention during the initial stage.
Getting into the online mode of learning is an incredible opportunity for us students in this course for two reasons. One, it provides a first-hand account of the challenges faced during conversion to or initial stage of online learning. Secondly, this provides a fantastic learning environment (instructional technology) where we can apply what we learn instantaneously.
We watch and listened over Zoom the learning theories presentations from the first few among us students. The first theory discussed was the Connectivism – a fantastic learning during the time of crisis when learning are centred around and within the internet. Connectivism wasn’t new to me and a few others in the class. We had this covered in previous semester through another subject but seeing this in action through the current class was the differentiating factor. In the current class, Dr Dewitt or Dr D as we fondly called her, had set a number of formative assessments – online interaction, journal writing using blogs (which was the push that materialised this blog), presentations on learning theories and wiki writing and research project.
Siemens (2005) introduced 8 principles of connectivism which I thought sychronised well with Dr D’s class. The discussion and debates that took place during class especially after each presentations supports the first principle on the diversity of opinions. The fact that we build wikis on the learning platforms connected through links on Microsoft Teams and other source including Whatsapp support the second principle on the connectivity of nodes. The use of Microsoft Teams and how it grew from simple chats to structured repository demonstrates how learning can resides in non-human appliances, the third principle.
Capacity to know is more important than what is already known, the fourth principle, is demonstrated by facilitation of inquiries of the learners on the platforms used, its importance emphasised by Dr D. Nurturing connection for continuous learning, the fifth principle, is seen through the continuous updates on the platforms used be it Spectrum or Teams. Individually, the use of blogs such as this is a great way to preserve knowledge for the future. The discussion on learning theories has opened up our understanding across different fields (arts vs sciences), schools vs higher learning and the different concepts and theories – this is the sixth principle. Keeping the knowledge up-to-date is the seventh principle manifested through additional learning outside of class – in this case we were treated with a virtual outdoor environment through the Modzilla Hub. The last principle is decision making as a learning process is an individual one but emphasised throughout this course.