Leading EdTech company BlackBoard says conventional classroom teaching method will not disappear despite emergence of remote learning

A student attends an online class from home during movement control order (MCO) in Petaling Jaya on January 26, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
A student attends an online class from home during movement control order (MCO) in Petaling Jaya on January 26, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 — Leading education technology (EdTech) company Blackboard Inc said today conventional classroom learning methods will not entirely disappear despite the emergence of remote learning following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic about a year ago.

Vice-President Asia-Pacific for Blackboard Philip Murray said this is due to the fact that the quality of social interaction one obtained from skillful educators in a face-to-face classroom setting was almost impossible to be replicated online, adding that this was a common question globally that is dealt with on a daily basis.

He however conceded that the teaching methods of educators and how students are enabled in classes could change in terms of consolidating information and sharing them.

 “Traditionally when we go to class we are presented with a book or chapter that we are new to, and we are introduced to concepts and then go off from class to understand what it's all about.

“What we are seeing now though is that in many institutions, why don't we present students with content before class and when they come to a lecture, it then means they are knowledgeable and they are then delivered in class in greater value because the audience now have the knowledge of foundation and are able to have conversations around it.

“So classroom learning disappearing? No. Morphing into something else? Yes,” he said during a virtual media briefing on the challenges and opportunities for online learning in the Higher Education sector in Malaysia here earlier.

On particular triggers driving remote learning in Malaysia, especially in the Higher Education sector, Murray said one of the key triggers was the focus on international students and travel restrictions in place which posed a challenge for some students overseas.

However, with technology being the infrastructure component, Murray said it has become ubiquitous and has since improved dramatically for the past decades with more and more areas having widespread internet accessibility.

Murray also gave an example of how INTI International University & Colleges in Malaysia was one of the few education institutions having needed to adapt quickly right in the middle of exam season following the implementation of containment measures by the government which prohibited any face-to-face classroom interaction.

With over 17,000 students and 400 faculty staff, Murray said the institution successfully migrated six of its campuses fully online through the use of Blackboard’s virtual classroom tool technology.

Murray pointed out that over 150 million users from 80 countries have utilised tools operated by Blackboard that are offered by institutions as part of their remote learning platforms to date.

Despite being headquartered in Washington DC, United States, Murray conceded there were concerns over local support surrounding the edutech platform with institutions preferring local vendors instead but assured that the company has engaged with several trusted partners domestically to deal with any arising issues.

Moving forward, he said remote learning was certainly the future of education in the next five years with a critical role to play in the higher education sector, after having observed a slow aggregated growth in the early 2019 which was upended by 2020 following the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Remote learning is the future of education, it certainly has a critical part to play.

“In some cases, institutions may return to what they were doing prior to the pandemic. Others, of course might have decided fully online is the one that they want to pursue,” he said, adding that a significant number is also observed for those opting for hybrid models as a de facto choice.

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