A monther accompanies her daughter for an online learning as the new school year starts in Palembang on Monday. (Antara Photo/Feny Selly)

Gov't Encourages Use of Technology in Post-Pandemic Schools

BY :JAYANTY NADA SHOFA

JULY 14, 2020

Jakarta. The hybrid learning model that combines offline and online learning elements in the classroom is likely to stay after the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Online learning has become a necessity in the classroom across the archipelago as the government restricts people's movements to curb the spread of the respiratory disease. 

And as the new school year started, most students across the archipelago log on to their online classes. Only schools in Covid-19 green zones resume face-to-face learning with strict health protocols. Four schools in Bekasi have reportedly postponed their plan to reopen and temporarily return to distance learning following new case emergences in the area.

Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim said that he planned to make remote learning extend beyond the pandemic.

"Distance learning will be permanent. That will not be a pure distance learning, but it will be [carried out] in a hybrid model," Nadiem said at a hearing with the House of Representatives in Jakarta earlier this month.

The statement stirred an uproar with oppositions pointing out that they were still many students remote regions without a reliable internet connection, and they could fall behind in class if Nadiem continued with the plan. 

Nadiem later clarified that what would be made permanent was the use of digital learning platforms in the traditional classroom setting.

Face-to-face learning is still the most effective, but the use of Technology in the classroom can foster better dynamics between the teacher and student, Nadiem said in a statement on Monday.

Iwan Syahril, the director-general for teachers and educational personnel at the Education and Culture Ministry, said the hybrid model has one advantage in broadening the students' learning with resources from all over the world. 

"Technology cannot replace a teacher's role in learning. Nonetheless, it can help accelerate student's competence," Iwan said.

Helping Schools Digitize

Ferry Irawan, the chief executive officer of ed-tech app WeKiddo, agreed that digital Technology has made distance learning much more accessible. However, he said online learning still had one shortcoming in comparison to face-to-face learning.

"There are several things that cannot be taught by the online system. For instance, character building, social interactions, and personality development," Ferry said. These three aspects can only be taught by in-person learning, he said. 

Still, digital technology could help schools to reduce the time they need to complete menial tasks like administering tests and assignments for students, allowing teachers to focus on students' personal development.

With WeKiddo, schools can alternate between offline and online test-taking for their convenience. When an exam is completed, the system will automatically calculate the score.

Once the hybrid model is in place, WeKiddo aims to help schools digitize without ditching offline learning. If another virus outbreak dawns, schools can immediately shift to distance learning, Ferry said.

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