If there is a concept parents have had to learn to work around during the pandemic, it is home-based learning (HBL). While it hasn’t been easy handling both–work and HBL–there are admittedly advantages and disadvantages of online learning.
To look into the importance of HBL in our children’s education, theAsianparent reached out to Joe Ngoi, the Founder of Learner Net, an online learning platform in Singapore.
Creating A Safe And Effective Online Social Learning Platform
Image source: Joe Ngoi
Through this e-learning site, Joe and his team at Learner Net started out helping students “overcome and survive” the new normal which he says is “not going away anytime soon.”
They set up LN Cares, for instance, which grants children from disadvantaged families access to free or subsidised tuition online. He also share that they regularly addressed mental health issues that may affect students during these difficult times.
“Beyond surviving, we wanted to help learners thrive in the long term, to do something that was not possible before. With the widespread adoption of remote learning, we sought to connect learners from all over the world to learn together, collaboratively,” Joe tells theAsianparent.
He continues to share, “We believe this network effect could be the tipping point for social learning on a global scale. To this end, we have started investing in building data science, artificial intelligence and social learning features in our platform since Q1 2020.”
Since the business was set up in 2020 when COVID restrictions were implemented, starting up Learner Net was not without challenges. Despite having a team to kickstart the platform meant to facilitate social learning, Joe couldn’t meet his team in person for months.
“Of course, not being able to meet physically occasionally caused team morale to dip slightly, especially in more stressful times, but because of the dedication to build bonds among staff and manage staff’s mental health on the part of the higher management, such issues were quickly resolved,” says Joe.
He adds, “Because of this experience, we are also better able to guide Learner Net teachers to work completely remotely with us and the learners.”
Importance Of Looking Into The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Online Learning
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With HBL being re-implemented recently, Joe says this is proof that online learning is a necessity and “compelling option in the new normal.”
Having established that online learning is indeed a necessity now more than ever, Joe also asked a fellow Learner Net teacher to weigh in.
Isaac Quek, an English teacher, told him, “How engaging a classroom is, whether physical or Zoom, depends very much on the techniques which a teacher employs. Whether the teacher is able to give meaningful feedback also affects the effectiveness of the lesson.”
With the dedicated and effective teachers on board his team, Learner Net is able to provide resources and features to facilitate social learning.
“For instance, there is a forum for the public to discuss difficult exam questions or mental health topics for students and teachers, a social wall for sharing learning material or posting queries and class announcements, in-class private messaging among students and teachers, and real-time quizzes with the immediate reveal of results,” shares Joe.
With this, they aim to “democratise” the online learning space so that quality classes will be accessible to all who wish to learn as much as possible.
“Given that COVID cases are still increasing and lockdowns are still happening around the world, we are glad that students are able to continue learning among peers,” says the entrepreneur.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Online Learning
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When asked about the advantages and disadvantages of online learning are, Joe shared with theAsianparent the following pros and cons:
Disadvantages of online learning
- The great reduction in the number of weekly live lessons
- Large class size of up to 40 students to one teacher
- Little personalised attention is given to weaker students
- Pre-recorded teaching materials like YouTube videos are sometimes not explained or fleshed out leaving students still confused
Advantages of online learning
- Both students and teachers get to save time and reduce the risk of COVID transmission since they no longer have to commute
- More room for creativity on both ends
- Teachers can enable students to practise critical thinking in much more engaging ways than just the whiteboard
- Students get to present their findings or work in a more innovative manner
- Communication is great between teachers and students as well as among students themselves
- Students who may be shy can instead share their views via the chatbox, helping them be included in the discussion
- Students receive clear and targeted feedback based on their individual strengths and weaknesses, errors, trains of thought
Taking Care Of Your Child’s Mental Health During HBL
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Joe says it is important to strike a balance between discipline and granting your children freedom.
For instance, you should set realistic and progressively attainable goals for them. This is a much more sensible way to encourage your child to improve rather than imposing sky-high targets for them.
Joe elaborates, “Naturally, attainable goals and subsequent rewards, whether tangible or not, result in better mental health.”
“It is also important to respect each child’s strengths and preferences as they journey along their desired paths, rather than forcing them into a mould,” he makes sure to add.
“For teachers, building rapport is key. This can only be achieved with consistency,” Joe shares with theAsianparent.
This is important as students spend a great deal of time with their teachers. With rapport and trust, teachers get to better detect signs of stress exhaustion and burn-out.
It would also help to detect any other behavioural changes that may point to the state of a student’s mental health.
Learner Net also has an ongoing Mental Health content series to inspire and encourage learners, teachers and parents in this aspect.
5 Tips On How Parents Can Help Their Children Study At Home
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Aside from discussing the advantages and disadvantages of online learning, Joe also shared some tips for parents on ways they can support their children during HBL:
1. Draw up a schedule that your child can follow throughout the day.
2. Create a conducive environment for learning and revision.
3. Don’t forget to take adequate breaks!
4. Ensure your child’s posture is proper and healthy while studying.
5. Make time for leisure and bonding activities as a family such as exercising together, playing board games and catching up.
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