Online learning has been on the rise for the last two decades, as more and more people undertake all or part of their training via elearning or virtual classes. Today, most universities and schools have some kind of Learning Management System (LMS) in place – such as Moodle – which allows teachers and lecturers to make use of helpful digital tools.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown hit Malaysia in the early part of 2020, elearning played something of a supporting role in the classroom. But all that changed almost overnight as students, teachers, and virtually everyone else were confined to their homes. Suddenly, online learning in Malaysia was no longer an added benefit. It became an essential tool for keeping the nation’s students educated during a period of uncertainty.
“LMS hosting, in particular, needed to be robust enough to accommodate a surge in activity,”Vincent Stocker – Published Moodle Author // Managing Director, Pukunui Sdn Bhd
Naturally, there were some teething troubles at first. Not all users – educators and students – were familiar or comfortable with LMS software. Educators had to quickly adapt their materials for online learning. And enthusiasm for online courses was below that of face-to-face training, as people tend to prefer the experience of being in the presence of others while learning.
There was also another, more technical issue facing Malaysia’s education institutions. The majority of learning systems are set up for a limited number of students to access at any one time. Since most learning took place in the classroom. Suddenly, every student needed access to the online environment, so demand skyrocketed.
“LMS hosting, in particular, needed to be robust enough to accommodate a surge in activity.” Says Vinny Stocker, Managing Director of Pukunui Malaysia. “When lots of businesses went quiet due to lockdown, we received a huge amount of requests to increase LMS capacity. Often by as much as five times the regular rate. So that students could continue their studies with as little disruption as possible.” Thankfully, it didn’t take too long to get online learning systems ready to deliver the education students needed. And many students embraced the spirit of online learning very quickly.
Online learning part of the new normal
Students in Malaysia have since returned to the classroom under the guidance of strict SOPs. Does this mean elearning will slowly revert to a supporting role? “No, not at all,” says Vinny. “A lot of people in Malaysia have changed their view of online learning as a result of their experience during lockdown. This has continued throughout the recovery period. They see they can perform a lot of the tasks they would in a physical classroom, without the distractions and inconveniences.”
“The education experience can also be more intimate. Even though you are aware of the presence of other classmates, there is something engaging about being up close to the teacher. Being addressed directly, albeit on a computer screen. It encourages independent learning, which younger people especially are attuned to.”
“Face-to-face classes will still form a major part of learning. I think the role of online learning will be elevated – people are more familiar with it. Even though universities and schools now have robust elearning systems in place, we still get many requests for upgrades and improvements to their systems as people adapt.”
The business case for online learning in Malaysia
It is not only schools and universities that are embracing the online learning revolution. Businesses, big and small, have shifted much of their training online and are enjoying the advantages.
With online learning, busy professionals no longer have to commute to a training venue. This will save companies time and money. What’s more, training modules are delivered in smaller doses. The days of having to take a whole day or two away from the office to attend a course will become a thing of the past.
SMEs using online learning
“We have seen an increase in uptake among businesses, especially SMEs,” says Vinny. “It’s proving to be more cost-effective as well as convenient, which is a huge benefit when companies are tightening budgets.”
Online learning has certainly enjoyed a boost during the rollercoaster ride of 2020. As technology develops and becomes more reliable, future generations will no longer question the need for online learning. Indeed, the experience will come as naturally to them as learning in the physical classroom has for the rest of us.
Pukunui Malaysia helps organisations develop and manage effective online learning systems and provides a range of technical support. Contact us for more information.