Slow Internet hampering online teaching: expert

National 2 minutes, 8 seconds


SLOW Internet speed is impeding the progress of sustainable teaching practices in the country, preventing the possiblity for electronic submissions and online databases for downloadable lecture materials, an expert said.

Dr David Hassell, associate professor of Petroleum and Chemical Engineering at Institut Teknologi Brunei (ITB), said the main issue is having an Internet connection that is “both fast and reliable, so that students can submit work on time”.

Speaking on the sidelines of Institut Teknologi Brunei’s Professional Communication for Business, Engineering and Technology Conference yesterday, he said the submission of coursework and transferring of lecture slides electronically could significantly reduce paper use.

“The concept of sustainability in the context of education are methods and practices that can be continually carried out over a realistic time frame.

“Looking at the way we teach and educate, we need to look at it and say, can I continue to teach and live this way, and can my children and future generations continue to do so?” he said.

Dr Hassell added that he distributed lecture slides and notes by allowing his students to download them from his laptop onto external drives, but students in the country still preferred to print all their notes and bind them.

One sustainable measure that has met success is the creation of an online platform for group discussions to be held outside the classroom, where everyone in the group can see posted messages and interact with one another.

“The penetration of Facebook among Bruneians is massive. Having a platform where all students can discuss issues they have difficulties with (allows) those who may be too shy to speak up during class (to) have a chance to speak.

“The students can simultaneously see discussions as well; when in a classroom setting discussions are usually limited to four or five people,” he added.

Dr Hassell also cautioned against concerns that many educators have on incorporating technology, for fear of losing their jobs.

“There is the argument that with newer technology allowing for video and audio recordings of lectures to replace the traditional lectures, there would be no need for many lecturers (since the reach is greater).”

The traditional classroom setting will continue to remain popular as students still place a high value on receiving lectures in person, and have become increasingly demanding as tuition fees increase globally.

“At the end of the day, we as educators are facilitators for the transfer of knowledge, and there a lot of different ways in which this can be done, and we should always be open to.”

The Brunei Times