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E-Learning continues to improve in Indonesia

It has been over a year since schools across the globe had to close their institutions and move online to mitigate threats brought by COVID-19. Schools wasted no time in taking action to protect their students, implementing home and online learning programmes to smoothen the digital shift. But many are still learning to navigate the intricacies of online learning and unwrap the method’s full potential.

In Indonesia, the lives of some 68 million young people – from pre-schoolers to higher education students – have been affected by COVID-19 over the last year, according to the Jakarta office of UNICEF. Fortunately, Indonesia is uniquely positioned to exploit online learning and, as early as May 2020, more than 60 higher education institutions in Indonesia conducted online learning by harnessing distance-education platforms. More than 171 million or 69% of Indonesians are connected to the web with an internet penetration rate that stood at 63.5% in 2019 according to the latest survey by the Association of Indonesian Internet Service Providers (APJII), which is higher than the average of Asian countries.

Before the pandemic, most remote education was asynchronous, meaning that students watched pre-recorded lessons and completed their assignments individually in their own time. With synchronous learning, students get online at the same time with their teachers for class, which allows for more opportunities for group work and a regular schedule to help students adjust to the unusual circumstances.

Since moving to digital, driven by the collaborative efforts of teachers from early year to high school, various learning programmes have evolved further to emphasise synchronous learning and increased opportunities for online student interactions with both teachers and peers. When the switch was made from asynchronous to synchronous, campuses found that more children were able to be successful with their learning. These improved digital channels allowed the students to ask questions and confer with the teachers in real-time. It also took the pressure off the parents to be educators and placed that role back with the teachers.

After trying both approaches at the start of the E-Learning programme, schools recognised that the synchronous mode of online classes was far more effective in meeting student needs, both academic and social. When the school year kicked off, all classes and co-curricular activities were held online, live, with students learning together and supporting each other as they did while learning in the classroom. The synchronous mode of online classes has created an enormous impact on the experience for students and families. It creates a familiar feeling of going to school on a regular day. They were also surprised at how quickly, capably, and creatively their faculty adapted their practice for synchronous online instruction.

At the same time, schools understand that extended durations of screen-time is not ideal for younger learners. These students are at a stage of development that requires more tangible, interactive experiences to build confidence and allow them to practice their interpersonal skills.  Faculty members of various schools have tried to keep the amount of synchronous-time kids have to be online for lessons to an appropriate, developmental length of time. Teachers were highly creative and innovative and explored ways to have children in digital breakout rooms using multiple devices.

Schools acknowledged that keeping the students socially engaged was the most challenging part of the home and online learning programme, especially to prevent them from feeling disconnected from the school community. To address this, they have made it a priority to maintain as many of the school’s traditional events and activities as possible, like grade-level and school-wide assemblies, celebrations like United Nations Day and Indonesia Week, concerts, and dance performances, as well as competitions and challenges. There are times when staying engaged can be difficult, and they talk a lot about resilience in the new normal brought by COVID-19.

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