Former CFS students share their OTL experiences

Former CFS students share their OTL experiences

The online forum poster

The Centre for Foundation Studies (CFS) of Kampar Campus organised an online forum titled “Online Learning Mode: A Student's Path Forward in Uncertain Times” on 25 August 2021 via Zoom. The online forum received a total of 105 participants in attendance.

The talk was delivered by Marketing student Lai Kah Wei and Commerce Accounting student Heng Joey. Both of them are former CFS students. The online forum was moderated by CFS lecturer Chung Zi Ling and Lim Kun Yin.

The online forum aimed to provide an insight into the personal journey of the two Foundation alumni who have successfully completed their entire Foundation programme via online learning mode. The speakers also provided a guide for students to manage their time and stay focused throughout the online learning process. They also provided some steps towards managing online assignments and assessments while gaining an enriching online university experience.

The speakers, from left: Lai and Heng

The moderator of the online forum, from left: Lim and Chung

From left: Heng and Lai’s study area during OTL

Heng started her sharing session by introducing herself and how she completed her Foundation journey using the online learning mode. “After I received my SPM result, I registered at CFS UTAR. Upon walking into UTAR for the first time, I saw UTAR staff wearing face masks, practising social distancing and also using hand sanitiser before and after interacting with us. When I was informed that the learning sessions will be conducted online, I became nervous because I’m not familiar with the online mode, however, I took this challenge and encouraged myself to adapt to this online teaching and learning (OTL) approach,” she said.

Agreeing to Heng’s statement, Lai added, “I had a similar experience with Heng. I was nervous because I had no experience learning online during my school days, but I braced myself and stepped out of my comfort zone to adapt myself to this new way of learning. In my opinion, as a Z generation, we need to take this as a positive challenge for us to learn something new. Although we have been practising OTL for quite some time, I hope one day we will be able to go to UTAR and have a physical class with our friends and lecturers, and resume our normal life again.”

When asked about how they coped with the online study pressure and making friends, Heng said that she enjoyed writing journals and she organised her tasks using a study planner. “If I feel pressured while studying at home, I will express my thoughts and ideas and track my habits by writing a journal. I sketched a simple layout with a minimal design using colour pencils and stickers to make it look more interesting. Sometimes, I just watch videos from YouTube to get some ideas and be creative with my journal and study planner,” added Heng. Despite being an introverted person, she challenges herself to initiate conversations with her classmates to make the classes more fun and interactive.

As for Lai, she initially felt stressed for not being able to conduct group discussions with her teammates. To overcome this, she suggested her groupmates to hang out virtually and have interactive discussions from there; in this way, she was also able to socialise with her friends. This enabled her to learn and become familiar with a lot of virtual platforms and technological tools. She was able to have fun hanging out virtually with her groupmates despite being in the pandemic. Moreover, Lai also said that she loved making scented candles using essential oils as the sweet smell emitted by the candles helps her to relax and de-stress.

The session continued with Heng and Lai sharing some tips to stay focused during their online learning lessons. Lai said, “I used to attend the online classes while laying down on my bed but as time went by, I switched my habits by creating my own study area. I will mute my personal mobile phone and get rid of any distractions that may disrupt me during the class. Furthermore, I decorated the study table, putting my favourite stationaries and notes nearby, so that I will feel motivated to study and attend the OTL. Apart from that, to maintain my self-discipline and momentum throughout my studies, I created a study vlog and weekly tracker and learnt self-editing skills. I posted my study vlog on social media to continuously motivate myself. I also utilised the online tools on Google Chrome called Momentum to keep track of my achievement for that day, and Google Calendar as a reminder to complete a certain task in one day.”

Heng, on the other hand, said that in order to maintain focus during online lessons, one has to take good care of themselves. She practised healthy sleeping habits and did light exercises like Yoga to make sure she is invigorated and energised during the 2-3 hours of the OTL session. At the same time, she also actively participated in the classroom activity and frequently asked questions to the lecturers so that she will not easily get distracted and will understand the subject better. “I have installed a Pomodoro app on my phone. This app is useful as it helps you to allocate 25 minutes to complete your assignments and 5 minutes for break time. I also set social media restrictions using this app when I am doing my task to avoid procrastination and distraction”, she added.

Lai’s weekly study planner

Heng’s weekly study planner

The insightful online forum received excellent feedback from the participants as it enlightened them on the real prospects of experiences, struggles and victories of tertiary students in dealing with online teaching and learning (OTL).

It ended with an interactive Q&A session. This online forum is associated with SDG 4 - Quality Education as it provides insightful knowledge related to online learning mode and technological tools used by the speakers to adapt to the new norms of learning.

Group photo at the end of the session

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