Reflection 6: Lessons Learned During the MCO Part 3

One of the most intriguing revelation during the lockdowns is about handphones. It became a butt of a joke – “it wasn’t allowed in school but thanks to the pandemic, school is now in handphones”. It is interesting that it took a crisis to make us realise how we should have looked at things differently.

We learn in many ways, through formal ways and informal ways. There are plenty of real life scenarios and situations happening around us particularly during the pandemic lock downs that are relevant to us instructional designers/technologists. During the MCO, educators were scrambling to find ways to reach out to their students – many, though, heaved sighs of relief thanks to WhatsApp, Zoom and many other applications that offer quick solution to their problems in reaching out to students. According to Hodges, Moore, Lockee, Trust, & Bond (2020), the phenomenon faced during the pandemic is identified as emergency remote teaching (ERT) and is not the same as normal online distance learning.

I have had the privilege of attending an online session delivered by Dr D especially addressed to the faculty members of UM towards preparing for the ERT. It is certainly exciting to see principles, concepts and theories kicking into action during this crisis. One of the key learning points for me picked up during the session was on getting both lecturers and students ready. On this, Dr D shared on Gilly Salmon’s 5-stage Model of online learning readiness.

This is certainly an interesting concept – through my own reading I understand that this model was based on the observation and experience early participants in computer-mediated conferencing but subsequently rolled out to corporate training and across many learning disciplines and for different levels of education and contexts. The five stages are access and motivation, online socialisation, information exchange, knowledge construction and development. A chart below illustrate the model.

How do we make changes happen? Like any change management, leadership is important. We seemed to have resolute mind to overcome the teaching issues caused by the crisis but do we have enough reform within us to adapt to the new normal? I’m reminded by the Engestrom’s Activity Theory, a branch of social constructivism that emphasises sets of players and interventions. Engestrom explains that a learning process requires subject, object, instruments, rules and division of labour in order to achieve a certain learning outcome.

Let me explain about leadership. It only takes, say, one headmaster with foresightedness to spark the revolution of change. The subjects are the teachers and the object is to make them agile in teaching using readily available technologies like what we have seen in the ERT. The foresightedness creates a new norm, or culture (or rule according to Engestrom) sufficient to create a community among the teachers to build a set of workable frameworks to support the subjects. The third generation activity theory emphasis on inter-organisational learning, so two headmasters with foresightedness can do a lot more to build up cooperation towards establishing a stronger development support. No, we don’t need multi million ringgits worth of LMS. Imagine if we have the entire education system behind this move!

Of course it is easier said than done. We have silos working environments and education policies that have been pulled back and forth thanks to political conveniences. If Engestrom can tell us anything other than learning theory, it is about leadership and leadership in education is what we need now to create the new norm.

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