Aldiena Bunga Fadhila, S.E., M.Sc., or often called Mrs. Bunga, is a lecturer at FEB UGM from the Accounting Department. This young lecturer, who taught the Tax Accounting course, took her master's degree at the University of York, England. As a lecturer at FEB UGM, Mrs. Bunga has contributed to the world of education through some publications. In classroom learning, Mrs. Bunga always develops an applicative approach to be applied effectively and continuously, especially during online learning methods as it is now. On this occasion, Mrs. Bunga talked and shared her perspective on the online lecture activities that have been going on so far.

After undergoing teaching and learning activities online for about two semesters, how is the online lecture according to Mrs. Bunga? What did Mrs. Bunga feel?

At first, when the pandemic was just starting, the adaptation was quite difficult, because it was the first time the whole lecture thing must be held online. So, that’s why some lecturers are also rushing to adjust it. That was the first point, but then around the fourth month and until now in this second semester, I think I’m starting to get the feel and find my rhythm, and I think the students are starting to find their rhythm too. Because it is a necessity in this pandemic, I feel that this is the best way to convey study materials to students, and in my opinion, online lecture actually forces students to follow real student-centered learning indirectly.

On social media, is it often seen that students complaining about online lectures are ineffective (ex: they don’t understand the study materials, etc.). According to Mrs. Bunga, is this valid?

In my opinion, it is valid, yes, because online learning does need an adaptation. The second thing is, if the students just go directly into this online method, it is certainly not for everyone. Moreover, in a pandemic situation like this, students are not able to study together with friends, they are really on their own. Even if they want to discuss something together, it becomes harder since you can’t interact directly. So I think it’s valid, what the students felt is valid. But, the thing to remember here is that this condition is indeed abnormal, don't drown for too long. Students must be adaptive and realize that they have to start learning independently, in other words, they have to transform their way of thinking, learning, looking at problems, etc. Students must adapt.

Next, talking about challenges, according to Mrs. Bunga, what are the challenges of online learning so far?

For students, the challenge is pretty clear since time has become limited now. Interaction is limited as well. So, the biggest challenge is the limited interaction, which leads to the limitation of communication. However, this problem can be bridged. For example, if students have questions to ask after class, they can email their lecturers to ask the questions. But then, it is also a challenge because sometimes the lecturer would have other online meetings after teaching online classes. That is indeed a challenge that we must face. Then, another challenge faced by the students is about self-determination, related to effort, because the effort to go through online classes is greater than offline. And also about integrity, which has become a problem because the exams are now carried out individually, lecturers don't have a clue whether the students are working together or opening online sources. It is only the students themselves who can protect their integrity.

As for lecturers, our challenges are really hard. For us young lecturers, it is maybe still easy to adapt to technology, but for older lecturers, it might be more challenging. I really appreciate senior lecturers because many of them were completely blind to technology and are now able to use and talk about it. For lecturers, the challenge is learning this technology that we have never done before. Other than that, we are also dealing with communication limitations. And because of that, we really are thinking hard about how to provide all the study materials that compensate offline lectures and to make it as similar as possible. It is indeed challenging, for example in the Accounting department, we need to teach calculation and that is quite hard. Some lecturers think about buying a tablet and stylus. Now the challenge is we have to have updated gear too.

How about the interaction between lecturers and students, do you think that this period of online learning has become less effective?

My quite funny observation is that in the early days of the pandemic, I taught this one online class at that time. I taught online classes later at that time because I used Webex which was a bit heavy, so I told them to turn off the video, if any of them wanted to ask a question, they could just ask it via chatbox. I was surprised because it turned out there were so many questions, it was very different from an offline class. I was quite relieved. Maybe when students were in offline class, they were too embarrassed and worried that their questions would be invalid or sounded “stupid”. But then, in an online class when they were finally allowed to ask via chatbox, many students shot their questions right away. For my class, there was a meeting where I gave a learning video and then we started a discussion in Google Classroom. There were also many interactions and questions. Hence, I have maintained a somewhat asynchronous system to attract students who are usually a bit shy to ask questions in large forums.

So, what does an effective online lecture like according to Mrs. Bunga? What have you applied to your online class?

Well, this experiment still going on. So, before starting to plan out online classes for the last semester, I attended a seminar conducted by Harvard Business School (HBS). One of the effective ways according to HBS is to encourage students to do more of the talking part than the lecturer when having virtual meetings. Then, I tried to implement it and it is indeed more effective in that way (in terms of conveying material that students can comprehend rather than me giving the materials with a lot of talking and less time to ask questions. So, what I did, I usually give a learning video beforehand, then during the online session there will be full presentations by students, and then we do a question and answer to discuss the topic. I think it’s effective. For some relatively difficult material, I will teach it directly in class so students won’t misunderstand it. Another thing that I also implement is to give a 15 minutes break after every one hour of the class because we had to keep people’s attention remain.

During online teaching, did Mrs. Bunga ever experience digital burnout?

Yes, I ever felt it, because the classes were all online, the meetings were also online. I have experienced to feel digital burnout nearing the end of the semester due to the tiredness of online classes., health problems began to appear due to taking too long to look at the screen. It’s not mean that I don't like teaching online, but the online teaching situation is unhealthy for my body.

What is Mrs. Bunga's memorable experience while teaching in online class?

I found that students were more active and were not ashamed to ask questions in online class, especially when there was no condition to need to must going ask questions on the forums or turn on their videos, they were not ashamed and turned out to be more daring to ask questions, that's what impressed me in the most.

Is there any unpleasant experiences related to interactions with students while teaching in online class?

Yes, especially because now everything is going online. Even before online class, I often interacted with students, some of whom were not communicating correctly. for example, when the students sent an email, he immediately rushed to the point, there was no name, the class was in, so I don't know who sent this email. Now things like that are increasingly happening when classes are online, there are lots of funny and unique ways of communication of the students, but I even consider that to be my amusement when I teach.

Apart from interactions, is there anything else that is not fun when teaching in online class?

The thing that is not fun when teaching an online class is when we as teachers try to maintain integrity, we release exams online, but many find out students who do not maintain integrity. I have tried to think and design a method for students to do on their exams or assignment without having to ask each other, that's the most heartbroken thing, it's like we've tried to maintain integrity, but sometimes it's not reciprocated from the student side.

Have you ever thought of Mrs. Bunga wanting to teach the offline class again?

Some lecturers want to go offline classes again, I also have a feeling like that, but considering the current pandemic condition and the evidence from students who also turn out to be better in terms of activity in class during online learning, I don't really want to go offline as soon as possible

In terms of lecturers, did the pandemic conditions decrease the enthusiasm for teaching?

I don't think so, for myself, I am still passionate about teaching, especially when students ask questions, it makes me enthusiastic about teaching, I think other lecturers are too. In fact, online classes can open opportunities for lecturers who do a lot of work in the outside campus and cannot attend classes. Because of online classes, they can teach in class because these online classes can be accessed anywhere, can be discussed through Google Classroom, ELok, and other platforms. Talking about the spirit of our lecturer, in the lecturer forum, our senior lecturers are actually very enthusiastic about learning new technology to teach in this online class

Mrs. Bunga's tips to keep up the spirit when teaching in online class

The way to maintain my enthusiasm when teaching online is doing sports activities, when I have spare time I spend walking outside the house and that's what makes me enthusiastic after that. This also applies to students. Even though sometimes you feel lazy, unmotivated, but trust me when you do it, you will feeling happy.

Mrs. Bunga's advice regarding learning during the Covid-19 Pandemic

For me, what is clear is that because this is a pandemic, we have to embrace it, learn to be independent. We must be more innovative because this is online learning and it becomes easier to get bored, we must be more innovative in the implementation of lectures. Not only in terms of classical delivery to video learning, but you can also make online cases or debates in the online classes, so many things that will give "spices" in online lectures to eliminate boredom and also make students understand the material given with more easily and pleasantly.

Are there any messages from Mrs. Bunga would like to convey to students?

What I highlight the most is the problem of student integrity. I highlighted that on social media there are a lot of assignment creation services, I already knew and was aware of, but I see when online classes going, it is getting more and more prevalent, and what's worse is being endorsed. That is my biggest criticism with students. Learning online is not just learning in general, it doesn't matter if you have excellent grades, but we also talk about character building and habituation for the future. Even now, they have mortgaged their integrity for a good grade, and then, how their integrity in the future. Believe me, life is not getting any easier, life is getting harder. When you face difficulties, beat them all the time, so when you face something easy, you just have to relax, because you are used to facing something difficult.

Mrs. Bunga's hope for students and online lectures in the future

Students must remain enthusiastic about attending lectures, enthusiastic in the learning, so what the lecturers have prepared for students can be well received, and the knowledge conveyed to students can be well understood. Another hope, nothing else but healthy, hopefully, everyone will stay healthy, both physically and mentally, if you feel alone, talk to somebody, or come to a psychologist or SWPDC so that your mental health is maintained and avoid from being stressed.

Reportage: Sony Budiarso/Kirana Lalita Pristy