Teachers are a critical part of any child’s education journey. With the COVID-19 situation, teachers have had to swiftly switch to online education. In this new normal, teachers not just have to deliver lessons online, but more importantly, they must ensure that lessons are conveyed in ways that keep students engaged and excited about learning.
In line with MDEC’s commitment to develop digitally skilled Malaysians and in conjunction with Teachers Day, we went in search of teachers who set a benchmark when it comes to educational technology (edtech in short). Criteria for selection included a proven track record in innovating the delivery of STEM education, being a STEM or digital tech advocate amongst fellow teachers beyond their immediate circle, self-starters, life-long learners, actively engaging with industry to improve their teaching and learning methods, and are active participants in national and global edtech forums. We call these teachers Cikgu Juara Digital (Champion Digital Teachers), and they are indeed champions in their own right.
For a start, 25 Cikgu Juara Digital have been identified and will be given rigorous training on advanced problem solving and critical thinking skills, Artificial Intelligence, IoT, Social Media engagement, content creation, etc. These teachers will go on to inspire and teach teachers in their respective communities, and over time, we hope to have a thriving movement of Cikgu Juara Digital around the country. Here are 5 of these Cikgu Juara Digital, who have significant following on their blogs, YouTubeChannels and social media platforms.
Cikgu Abdul Rahman, fondly known as Cikgu Aman has been a teacher for 10 years and is passionate about cultivating the love for STEM amongst the students of this semi-rural school. With the support from sponsors and his own savings, Cikgu Aman managed to secure a classroom and turned it into a maker space, where students get to work on digital projects like coding, robotics and 3D printing. Over and above his day job as Teacher at SMK Jenjarom, Cikgu Aman is also the founder of a Telegram group comprising 52,000 teachers to provide peer-to-peer support on digital education. He also has a blog which is called cikguaman.com, and more recently his own YouTube Channel. To-date, Cikgu Aman has attended more that more than 150 training sessions by Microsoft and his blog boasts a long list of awards and achievements.
Cikgu Hailmi is a Science teacher who is another avid edtech blogger and YouTuber. His digital content creation journey started when his students shared with him their struggle to find Malaysian educational content online. That was back in 2012. Since then, the blog has gained an impressive 35 million views, and has been recognised as the Best Educational Blog by the Malaysia Social Media Awards in 2014 and 2016. His YouTube channel has more than 13,000 subscribers and his most popular video entitled “Kasut Kelopak Jantung”, a short film based on a novel written by Ghazali Lateh, has gained an impressive 618,000 views. He is now committed to equipping all his students with content creation skills which he says are vital for the future. When asked when he finds the time for his blog and YouTube videos, Cikgu Hailmi shared “I do it on my free time, and maybe because I’ve done it for almost 10 years, so I don’t need to spend more time on it. Just write, and post”.
Cikgu Razif who famously known as Cikgu Siber is no alien to the world of digital learning and teaching. He is the founder of the cikgusiber.com blog, which is very well known by STEM teachers across the nation. The platform which has 15,000 followers, shares best practices and resources in edtech for teachers. In his role as MCKK’s IT Coordinator, Computer Science and Design and Technology Teacher, he has won numerous awards such as Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) in 2019, International Invention & Innovation Tech Exhibition (ITEX) Gold Award in 2017, and a string of other awards. When asked how he juggles his time between his role as teacher with his activities to support other teachers and participate in competitions, he responded that he works closely with a team of fellow teachers who are equally passionate to drive the digital education agenda.
Cikgu Julie has had always had a deep desire to bring digital transformation to her school which is in a fishing village. Hence her decision to pursue a degree in Education Technology in university. Cikgu Julie was recognised as the State ICT Teacher Icon in Perlis last year, owing to her active contribution to her school and teaching community. She is also one of the founding members and administrators of the Digital Classroom community of teachers. This virtual community of teachers was formed late last year to mobilise teachers nationwide to embrace digital education and currently has more than 52,000 teachers as members.
Cikgu Goh, who is a Mathematics graduate of the Institut Perguruan Malaysia (Malaysian Teachers’ Training Institute) in Jitra, Kedah and also a Master’s degree holder is an avid user of EdTech to expose his students to the world outside the classroom. He uses Virtual Reality to expose them to attractions globally and Skype Classroom to meet children from other countries. At the same time, he is a firm believer in preparing his young students for the future of work by introducing 4th IR technologies such as robots to the classroom, teaching them how to surf the net safely and creating digital content. When asked how he funds these tools, he shared that he tries to secure sponsors or sometimes forks out his own money. Beyond that, he is also an active guest writer in various edtech blogs. To spice up the learning process, Cikgu Goh uses app smashing, a method of using multiple apps at the same time to complete a task or project. In his case, he combines Minecraft Education Edition and Kahoot! Cikgu Goh is also one of three #Teach Sustainable Development Goals (#TeachSDGs) Ambassadors in Malaysia. There are only 60 such Ambassadors worldwide in this movement of global-minded teachers. Given his deep awareness of global issues, he often encourages his students to come up with solutions using digital technologies to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Many of us may have a stereotypical view of Malaysian teachers as being left behind and struggling to keep up with latest educational trends. Hence it is comforting to know there are teachers who are trailblazing and leading the way for other teachers to adopt and embrace digital education. Their stories are highly inspiring and I would urge everyone to follow and share their stories with teachers in our respective communities. Hopefully in time to come, we can inspire more teachers to overcome their fear of technology and embrace this new normal of education.
MDEC is working closely with the Ministry of Education and teachers nationwide to support their digital upskilling, be it to deliver online education as well as to cultivate digital innovation and creativity skills amongst the nation’s future talent pipeline. More information about our efforts can be found in www.mydigitalmaker.com .
MDEC has also compiled a list of e-learning resources for school children on www.mdec.my as part our DigitalVsCovid19 campaign.
About the #mydigitalmaker movement
#mydigitalmaker movement is a joint public-private-academic initiative launched in 2016 to cultivate digital innovation and creativity amongst Malaysian school children. To-date, close to 1.3 million Malaysian children have learnt some form of “digital making”, such as coding, robotics and 3-D printing via this movement and its member organisations.