Author: Vijayabalan A/L Krishnan
Editor: Kanessha Rama Krishnan
Most teachers and students are pleased with the transition to online education, which has been made possible by the closure and lockdown of universities across the world due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Professors at prestigious universities have started to obtain online lecture certifications to provide online instruction to their students. Lecturers and the students are learning how to use online learning tools at the same time. Previously, they only used face-to-face instruction as a method of information distribution. However, the transition to online learning has raised concerns about educational efficiency. As a result of this sudden transition from face-to-face to online learning, students and lecturers face a few challenges.
Online learning is generally learning using computers and computer-based media that can be accessed through a network (internet). Online learning requires a computer but disregards the fact that some students cannot afford to buy a computer to continue learning online. Students will feel hopeless because there are no computer facilities that can be used to study from home apart from the computer facilities provided at campus. The government needs to play a role by donating for students to buy computers and giving computers to students who cannot afford them. This can make it easier for students to do their homework to the lecturers. Free Yes 4G sim cards and mobile phones to the students in the B40 category by YTL Communications Sdn Bhd, free laptops for university students in Muar by MP Syed Saddiq was the initiative that made for helping students who cant afford them.
When too many students are confronted with a computer screen for too long, it indirectly affects students' mental health, such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, loss of motivation, and lack of real human communication. It also affects the physical, emotional and social of students by sitting for hours in front of a laptop without moving around, not being able to meet other students and build real, deep connections, if unable to balance the use of computers during learning and doing assignments or assessments. Some studies have found that it has to do with screen exposure which when we are exposed to the screen for four or five hours, it will indirectly cause us to have difficulty sleeping and then experience emotional disturbances. To take steps to prevent this from happening, lecturers can do activities such as taking time to do light exercises to relax for a while that helps to avoid students’ stress or depression.
In addition, the environment and learning disruptions at home can also be stressful and affect the mental health of students. Students must also adapt to the new learning environment. The facilities available at home are not the same as the facilities at the campus. Some students do not have a suitable place to study which causes them to have to study in bed, on the floor in addition to adversely affecting the physical health of students compared to campuses that have study facilities and chairs and desks. In the meantime, the noisy environment in the homes of students who have younger siblings will also be disturbed,. This will make it difficult for students to focus more while the learning class is in progress. Therefore, parents should advise young children not to make noise while students are attending online classes. Parents should also do their best to understand the child’s situation and the difficulties of coping with online learning.
Furthermore, internet disruption during learning can also have an impact on students ’mental health. Students will feel stressed by the bad internet connectivity at home and some students cannot afford to buy high-speed internet packages compared to the internet facilities provided at campus. If the internet line is interrupted, students will be left behind during the ongoing learning process. It also makes it difficult for students to submit assignments to teachers or lecturers at a set time. This causes students to be less motivated to learn and to understand what the lecturer has taught. Students will also feel stressed because they cannot submit assignments on time. Therefore, the government should play a role by providing free internet packages that are worthwhile for students to facilitate students to attend online learning and lecturers should also provide time flexibility to facilitate students to submit assignments.
Studies in campuses that are usually attended by students in classrooms or halls can no longer be carried out until an unspecified period of time. Students and lecturers must also adapt to the conditions of this new norm. This will indirectly cause mental, physical, social health problems that will apply to students and teachers as well. Therefore, those who suffer from depression and anxiety should be helped through healthy lifestyle practices and mental health consultation services if necessary. Despite its many adverse effects, online learning can be a groundbreaking tool in producing quality education across borders if proactive measures are equally taken by parents, government organisations, and institutions of education.