By: Sonny Zulhuda
As learning institutions are now going massively online due to the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, questions arise how “secure” it is technically, operationally and legally for schools and universities to launch and execute their online and remote teaching and learning (“RTL”) activities. For many institutions who have never considered this seriously before, RTL can be a serious challenge, either conceptually or operationally, or both.
This is part of the new norm we are forced to accept, with social distancing and lockdown at various levels are now the norm rather than the exception.
This new norm brings about serious social implications. When more people are forced to flock in cyberspace for daily works and communications, the face of the Internet has changed tremendously. The Internet soon becomes a very highly productive ground for everything positive – learning, collaborating, research, working, playing, and doing business. But at the same. it becomes a more attractive ground for cybercriminals, bullies, fraudsters and rumour-mongers.
A recent report from Cyber Security Malaysia revealed that the incident of cybersecurity cases has risen by 82.5 percent (The Star, 12th April 2020) with online fraud, data breaches and cyber harassment coming out as top concerns. This is not to discount privacy concerns and the mushrooming of misinformation or fake news.
Having said that, education cannot stop. Schools and universities have to continue operation in such a restriction. Therefore RTL is now a necessity rather than an option.
Thereupon, learning institutions will have to confront reality: Lots of questions looking for answers somewhere. Say, for example, issues of connectivity, instructional design, gamification, and the digitalisation would require universities to lay out their strategic planning so as to ensure remote teaching and learning can go as desired.
Technical issues such as choosing mobile apps, involving social media, video-conferencing, augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), and the use of big data analytics will make things more operationally complicated. Indeed, not everything on the market is suitable for the purpose of the educational and curriculum objectives and the desired learning outcome. Therefore concerted efforts need to be taken to identify which solutions and methods would be helpful given the different educational requirements.
On top of that, issues of technology literacy, data privacy, and system security could be yet another headache to handle and manage. RTL platforms mean a massive utilisation of data and also an adoption of data culture. Are we ready for remote teaching and learning?
This seems to be a long journey: a marathon to endeavor, not a sprint to contest.