Malaysian education at present
At its best, Malaysia is an educational melting pot. As a result of its history, its school system has become a panoply of diverse cultures, religions, and ethnicities. Education here is offered in different mediums of instruction (Malay, English, Mandarin, Tamil) depending on the school. There are also specialized schools or “vernacular schools.” These are schools wherein the primary medium of teaching is either Mandarin or Tamil to help students learn their mother tongue and preserve their cultural identity. Public school education is free to all Malay students as it is mandatory, and there are private schools as well. In recent years, international schools have become more popular for expatriates or foreign students who come to live and or study in Malaysia. These schools use English as their main medium and offer American, British, Australian, and Canadian curricula. There are also vocational schools, religious schools, and boarding schools for students who are looking for more advanced and specialized learning. Given these, there is no doubt that Malaysia is rising to the standards of global education. And this comes as no surprise, as Malaysia ranks 6th among 43 Asia-Pacific countries in terms of economy.
Yet the Ministry of Education Malaysia (Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia or KPM) believes that there is still a lot of work to be done. In its Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, the Ministry of Education Malaysia underscored the role of education in any country’s stride towards economic progress. It also places its belief in the younger generation to predict the success of the nation. And so ultimately, it aims to “adequately prepare young Malaysians for the challenges of the 21st century.”
One of the areas given emphasis by the Ministry was Malaysia’s student academic performance in the global field. International student assessments like the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) have become known for measuring the cognitive skills of students, especially in Science and Mathematics, against similar-aged students from other parts of the world. And so the Ministry has promised to strengthen its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education as part of its curricula. This clearly elucidates the Ministry’s desire to produce superb students who can achieve and succeed not only locally but globally as well.
Learning is now digital
As educational content grows more challenging in order to rise to international standards, Malaysian students take to the Internet to keep up. With continuous ICT improvements, Malaysia is touted as being “at the forefront of e-learning.” Malaysian youth belonging to what is called as Gen-Y and Gen-Z (Generation Y and Z) are developing technological skills at a very young age and are growing up to be tech-savvy. A study made in 2013 by Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang showed that children as young as 10 already deal with various media technology in their everyday lives. That is why despite the increase in demand for tuition, many students still opt to use online means to improve their cognitive skills and better their academic performance.
In countries like China and Singapore—countries that constantly rank high in international student assessments like PISA and TIMSS—private online tutorial is nothing new. That is why online tutorial platforms like VIPKid and Magic Ears in China, and Tutopiya and Champion Tutor in Singapore, have increased in recent years. Malaysia seems to be catching up to this trend, with websites like My Quality Tutor and Teacher On emerging to meet the demands of Malaysian students.
What exactly is an online tutorial?
An online tutorial is a one-to-one private tutoring in an online or digital environment. Online tutorials are classes-on-demand that are conducted by teachers or tutors for students in need of coaching or assistance in academic subjects or any field of learning. It is pretty similar to private one-to-one tuition in the sense that the ratio is one teacher or tutor per student. However, the teacher/tutor and student are separated by time and space although they communicate real-time through the help of a stable or high-speed Internet connection.
Pros and Cons of Online Tutorial
Just like all things, online tutorial has positive and negative sides to it. To help Malaysian parents and students make informed decisions, here is a list of its possible benefits and drawbacks.
In online tutoring, all you need is a stable WiFi connection and desktop or laptop computer with a working speaker and microphone to be able to listen and respond verbally. And so it comes as no surprise that for busy parents out there, most useful benefit of online tuition is its convenience. You simply need to book a tutor online and that’s it. No need to spend time in traffic just to drop-off your child to a tuition centre or meet his tutor. No need to spend money on gas just to fetch him or drop him off. For parents who aim to be more productive, this means money and effort saved. Which means more time and resources to focus on things like work, business, personal hobbies, relaxation, or simply, more family time.
2. Caters to last-minute needs
Ever been in that situation wherein you forgot about your child’s upcoming exams? This is a common scenario among double-income couples or parents who juggle work and family priorities. With online tutorials, such situations can be avoided. This is because online tutorial platforms offer on-demand classes for your children. This means that you can book a class or a tutor for as early as a month in advance, or, if you are pressed for time, 30 minutes prior to your desired tutoring schedule. This also comes in handy when you know that your child tends to be an independent learner and only needs coaching in difficult topics or lessons. This way, you don’t need to set a fixed schedule with a fixed tutor and only book tutorials when you know that your child needs it.
3. Easier access to learning materials
As the digital environment mimics actual or traditional classroom setup, it also makes use of learning materials. The only difference is that in online tuition, learning materials are mobile and can be accessed faster and easier. With the help of videos, students can review or refresh their knowledge of topics or go back to key points by playing back recorded videos of their tutoring sessions. Also, since the notes are made online whilst online sessions are ongoing, students can easily view and reach out for tutorial session notes to aid in their review.
4. More tutors to choose from
With online tutorial, there is never a shortage of tutors. This is because most online tutor platforms have a “tutor marketplace,” or a site which connects them to hundreds or thousands of tutors per level or subject or field of study. Also, most online tutor websites can connect you to degree holders and experts on science, math, language, etc. For students, this means that you can experience learning from different tutors without having to commit to any of them, or try as many tutors as you need until you find the one that you most connect with or are most comfortable with.
5. Hone communication skills
For students who are looking to improve their verbal communication skills, going online is a great idea. To begin with, online tutorial can help students overcome their shyness. Unlike traditional classrooms or tuition centres where some students can go unnoticed in a day without interacting with their peers or teachers, in online tutorials, there is no other choice but to listen and respond to a live, online tutor. Because of this, shy or introverted students will be forced to communicate verbally until they get comfortable in engaging in conversations.
1. Requires extra discipline
Because the Internet is filled with countless possible distractions, online tutorial can pose a challenge to students who are less inclined to be self-starters. This means that for students who need constant immediate academic assistance, or who feel less motivated, a personal or face-to-face tutor may be more ideal. This is because online tutorial requires more discipline to focus one’s attention on the ongoing session instead of opening different tabs or replying to personal messages.
2. Lack of nonverbal cues
In effectively communicating with people, non-verbal communication matters as much as verbal communication. In online tutorials, there is a possibility that the child will miss non-verbal cues expressed by the teacher like nodding (for affirming good or positive behaviour) or frowning of the forehead (for expressing frustration).
3. Depends on the subject
No matter how beneficial or effective online tutorial is, there are some cases in which employing it will be more difficult than helpful. Think of language lessons wherein a teacher has to enunciate words over and over again to his student. Or wherein he has to show his student how to create specific sounds using the mouth in order to correctly say words, and then have the student repeat the sounds or words back. Usually, in these situations, a person-to-person approach is still the most ideal.
iMath may be what your child needs
Because of its convenience and flexibility, online tutorial is definitely an option that Malaysian students and parents should look into. In top academic-performing countries like Singapore, where mathematics is of utmost priority not only in global performance ranking but in local scholastic advancement as well, iMath is a go-to resource. And in Malaysia wherein students aim to boost their mathematics performance to meet global standards, iMath can serve as your one-stop shop.
Created by young mathematics professionals, you can rest assured that iMath is simply not just a marketplace of tutors. Instead, it is a supportive and responsive community of parents, students, qualified tutors, math experts, and math enthusiasts that love to see the younger generation make confident strides towards math.
Also, with its Community Wall, students can get on-the-spot homework help as well as practical tips and advice from parent to parent. Simply take a photo of the challenging homework question, upload or post it on the iMath board, and your query is sure to be assisted by a helpful math tutor or parent, or a fellow student. This further encourages the idea of a “math community” wherein everyone is free to ask, respond, and discuss anything math-related!
If you feel that your child needs math assistance, or if you simply want to join our online math community, download the iMath app on your device and experience convenient, flexible, and hands-on math help for your child.
This post was written by Louise Adrianne Lopez.