By: Atiek Rachmawati, S.S (Local Literature Program Alumnus FSSR UNS (Now FIB) 1999/ Javanese Teacher at SMA N 2 Grabag, Magelang)
The Covid-19 pandemic that has not improving compelled the education institution to held the 2021/2022 academic year learning through distanced learning (Pembelajaran Jarak Jauh – PJJ), which forced teachers and students to have teaching and learning process through digital media. The change is quite drastic, considering that nobody could predict that such a prolonged pandemic will affect the educational field. However, despite readiness, digitalization of education is unavoidable and needs to be implemented promptly to achieve 4.0, which equips students to face digital era challenges directly.
Educational digitalization is a logical consequence of the development but nevertheless caused pros and cons when educational basis was brought into the discussion. Education as a means to shape one’s characters according to the acceptable way of life means that educators and teachers should maintain a relevant educational climate to shape their student’s characters. (search?q=esensi+Pendidikan).
After implementing one and a half years of distanced learning, schools started to find a platform that matches their condition with full support from the government through the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology (Kemendikbudristek) and other stakeholders. Each educational institution has three options to be implemented in the pandemic condition: stay in the national curriculum, apply emergency curriculum, or simplify curriculum independently (essential curriculum). (edukasi.kompas.com/read/2020/08/08)
The government provided a subsidy for internet access for teachers, students, university teachers, and university students. The subsidy covers the general access quota that can be used to access all websites and applications and the learning quota that could only access learning resources provided by Kemendikbudristek, which shows that the government has prepared and discussed the roadmap for the system and platform.
In Indonesia, diverse digital learning platforms are available for the school to select one that meets their school characters which are as diverse between one and another. The author has an opportunity to use at least three educational platforms during the pandemic. Due to the efficiency, geographical condition, and resources factors that all influence the learning process, to this day, the author is still finding a platform that could sufficiently meet the author’s school needs.
The first platform adopted at the beginning of the pandemic was google classroom. According to glints.com, google classroom is a free web-based platform that aims to ease the learning process between educators and students. Google for Education mentioned that Google Classroom allows teachers to manage and grade their students’ work while maintaining student-teacher connections. This service is integrated with Google Suite for Education services such as Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar. The platform provides a means for teachers and students to submit and receive assignments through the platform. However, teachers need time to learn and apply the service in the teaching and learning process even though the school has provided a short workshop. The shock from the pandemic and the demand from the curriculum forced teachers and students to learn the new teaching method from zero.
In the new 2020/2021 academic year, my school decided to adopt the Schoology platform, a Learning Management System (LMS), or a web-based system to plan, implement, and assess the learning process (Sicat, 2015). As a free LMS, Schoology allows online collaboration between students, teachers, and even parents (Farmington, 2014). This platform was developed in New York in 2009 and is equipped with diverse media supports such as video, audio, and figures that support learning activities. Its front page depicts a school with a classroom, courses and teachers, and students in a class. Teachers are facilitated to deliver materials through various learning media, and students could access them online or download the provided materials. The platform also provides a means for teachers to collect student’s assignment and grade it online. However, students started to complain that they have difficulty in accessing the platform and sending their assignments through WhatsApp.
Opening the 2021/2022 academic year, my school, again, is trying to find a platform for our distanced learning process. With support from the IT team and the young teachers, the school designed a web-based platform, not an application, because clients do not need to install it on their devices. This platform is expected to create an effective and efficient learning process. Moodle or Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment is a platform built specifically as a learning management system. As a web-based platform, all teaching and learning process was implemented by accessing the website through a web browser. Moodle is a free-to-use open-source platform that is used by 190 million users globally (niagahoster.co.id). Moodle is an easy-to-use platform and has a drag-and-drop feature that facilitates teachers in creating their materials. Use tutorial for this platform is widely available online from its user community. The platform is flexible and could accommodate both small and large classes, secure, and can be designed following its user’s interest. The web-based nature of the platform allows users to access it whenever and wherever, and the platform is programmed to be a mobile-friendly site. Considering the strengths, my school decided to adopt moodle as a distanced learning platform and call it SIE-SANDRA (Sistem Informasi Edukasi – Education Information System SMA Negeri 2 Grabag).
A post from sevima.com reported the five best LMS for the online learning process: sevima edlink, moodle, google classroom, Edmodo, and Schoology. The author has tried four out of the best five LMS platforms listed in the report and could confirm that each platform has its strength and weaknesses according to its characteristics. The author could also conclude that many factors need to be considered in choosing a platform to be used in a school learning system with diverse options for users.
Selecting a learning platform for a school needs serious consideration and consider the school’s needs. Considers the benefits of each platform regarding its accessibility, the ease-to use, and the availability for all students and teachers. The internet connection is also a consideration in selecting an online learning platform considering the diverse geographical condition. The stability of the signal often disturbs the learning process and equipment’s performance. At last, the selected platform should be able to bring an effective and efficient educational system, a more flexible learning system, and facilitating the learning process. Hopefully, the educational system could run normally, and the Covid-19 pandemic ends soon. (*)