Bracing for The New Normal in Education | TWINS Education

Teacher Andy overseeing seven others online IGCSE classes during the weekend.

It has been more than a month since we have all stayed home in the joint efforts to fight COVID-19.  During this MCO period, online learning has become the ‘new normal’ for teachers and students.

Today, we are delighted to have TWINS Education, a renowned Cambridge IGCSE & A-Level Tuition Centre in USJ 9 Subang Jaya to give us an insight into what MCO is for tutors and students. Here is what Andy Gan, the Principal and co-founder of TWINS Education revealed:

How does MCO affect your tuition classes?

A week before the MCO was announced, we had gathered all teachers and students’ email addresses and Skype IDs in preparation for alternative class solutions. Thereafter, we started our trial run online tuition classes on 16th March 2020, just one day before Phase 1 of the MCO began. This was because we anticipated a lockdown would happen due to a major spike in the COVID-19 positive cases in Malaysia. We are glad that our preparation works were put in place just in time for MCO and all parents and students have been very supportive throughout this time.

What are the challenges for online tuition?

It was a little uncertain when we first began online lessons. This is the first time all our IGCSE & A-Level tuition classes go online since our 6 years of presence in the education sector. We anticipated there will be a transitioning period for all students and teachers to adapt from face-to-face to online classrooms. There are also other factors beyond our control such as slow internet connection and power failure, if they happen, could cause unnecessary delay and disruption to the classes. As a tuition provider, another challenge that we are facing now is the low student enrolment. This could be due to the perception that teachers do much less during this MCO period, which is untrue.

Teacher Roy uses his drawing pad to teach IGCSE Mathematics.

How do you respond to the challenges faced?

Fortunately, our teachers are dynamic and tech-savvy. We are glad that all our teachers have been adapting well to the sudden changes in just one week. There are also many available tools such as Excel, Paint, Padlet and Timer that we use to make our online classes more interesting and fun for the students. Besides that, Google Classroom has been of great assistance for our teachers to monitor students’ performance. For teachers, we stay connected through WhatsApp and Skype to share the latest updates on student progress and any challenges faced during the classes. We also run weekly teacher discussions to share insights, tools and techniques which we find useful to improve our online teaching.

UPSR and PT3 have been cancelled, and SPM and STPM have been postponed. What is the impact of COVID-19 on Cambridge IGCSE and A-Level examinations? 

Due to health and safety concerns, Cambridge International (CAIE) had earlier made a decision to cancel all May/June 2020 examinations. This includes the Cambridge IGCSE, Cambridge O-Level and Cambridge International AS and A2 examinations. Depending on the situation, the October/November 2020 exam series are likely to be cancelled as well. As for the May/June 2020 exam series, CAIE further stated that students will be assessed using the evidence-based grading. With this in mind, we have started to gather past and existing records of grading evidence for our Year 11 students. This will be helpful for students especially for those who are private candidates.

Teacher Maple marking her students’ science homework

What do you foresee will be the new normal for tutoring when the MCO is lifted?

Maintaining hygiene and cleanliness of the tuition centre and classrooms will be a must as always, whether during or after the end of MCO. Thankfully, we made an investment to sanitize the entire premise of our tuition centre just before the announcement of the MCO, which will help to keep the premise self-sanitised for up to 365 days. We will also be putting in place SOP to check students and teachers’ body temperature before they are allowed to enter the classroom and make sanitizer and sanitizing hand wash available in the premises. Students will be encouraged to wear their face mask. We are also looking into implementing social distancing in the classroom by ensuring students sit a safe distance apart from each other. We maintain a small class size of generally 4 to 8 students for each class so that will make our social distancing in class easier.