A total of 379 respondents answered the survey questionnaire. To avoid confusion between the roles of “teacher (only) and parent (only)” and “being both teacher and parent”, we refer the group of having both roles as T&P.
3.1. Demographic Background
summarizes the numbers of respondents, who were either teachers, parents, or both, with their respective age group, gender, highest education obtained, the area they lived (urban, suburban, or rural) and their self-rated ICT skills. The average scores of their self-rated ICT skills were both 7.2 for parents and teachers’ groups respectively, and 6.9 for T&P.
summarizes the number of child/children the parents had attending kindergarten, primary school, secondary school, and higher education respectively. Among 239 respondents who were parents, more than 50% have child/children attending primary school. Among the 239 parents, 72 respondents earned a household income above RM 10,000 per month, 53 respondents earned between RM 7500 and RM 10,000, 40 respondents between RM 5000 and RM 7500, 39 respondents between RM 3000 and RM 5000, and 14 respondents earned below RM 3000. Twenty-one respondents preferred not to answer on their household income.
Most of the teachers in this study taught for less than 10 years (102 out of 254 respondents). It was then followed by 91 respondents (11 to 20 years), 43 respondents (21 to 30 years), 17 respondents (31 to 40 years), and 1 respondent (41 years and above). In terms of subjects taught, around 40% of the respondents (105 out of 254) taught languages (Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, and English). 99 respondents taught natural science subjects, such as general science, biology, physics, and chemistry. A total of 74 respondents taught mathematics and/or additional mathematics. Other subjects included art and design (49 respondents), Islamic/religious/moral studies (24 respondents), computer/information and communications technology (ICT) (14 respondents), history (14 respondents), social science (business, accounting, management, etc.,)(14 respondents), geography (8 respondents), engineering (7 respondents), pedagogy and training (3 respondents), communication and media (3 respondents), counseling (3 respondents), and lastly cultural studies and special education (1 respondent each). 186 of 254 teachers taught in public schools, and the rest in private schools. The number of respondents teaching in urban, suburban, and rural areas were 163, 71, and 20 respectively.
3.2. Experiences about Virtual Classrooms
Concerning ICT tools used to conduct virtual classrooms, we can group these ICT tools into three categories. First was the synchronous platform to conduct classes and meet-up between teachers and students. For this category, Google Classroom was the most (297 respondents, 78.36%), followed by Zoom (253 respondents), Microsoft Teams (117 respondents), Google Meet (29 respondents), WeBex (20 respondents), and VooV (3 respondents). Second category was for communications, which included assisting students outside of ordinary virtual classrooms, providing materials, making announcements, etc. WhatsApp was the most used (313 out of 379 respondents, 82.6%) in this category, and it was the most used ICT tool (more than Google Classroom) as parents used it to communicate with the teachers. Information was distributed and teaching materials were sent through WhatsApp from teachers to parents. In this category, other communication platforms were Facebook (112 respondents), Telegram (17 respondents), WeChat (6 respondents), Discord (4 respondents), and LINE (3 respondents).
Last category was the ICT tools to assist in teaching. The teachers used these ICT tools to produce and share teaching materials, carry out interactions with the students, assess students’ performances, etc. YouTube (221 respondents) was used the most among teachers. They either shared educational videos made by others, or made their own videos and shared them via YouTube to the students. Other ICT tools fell under this category included Blackboard (12 respondents), Padlet (9 respondents), Jamboard (6 respondents), Kahoot (4 respondents), Quizizz, Canva, Whiteboard.fi, Wordwall, Mentimeter, TwoSeven, Moodle, and Miro (each with 2 respondents). Two mathematics teachers reported using GeoGebra.
In terms of resources that the students did not have access to when attending virtual classrooms, most parents agreed that stable Internet at home was one of them (334 out of 379 respondents). It was then followed by devices required to attend virtual classrooms (258 respondents), assistance from the parents (204 respondents), and spaces for attending virtual classrooms (167 respondents). These resources were mentioned by some respondents when answering the open-ended questions in the questionnaire, and we further describe them in this section.
A total of 210 out of 254 respondents having a role as teacher expressed experiencing work increase due to the implementation of virtual classrooms. When looking into the qualitative data they had provided, most of them mentioned spending more time to prepare digital materials that could attract the students’ attention for their virtual classrooms. This included making and editing videos, preparing digital quizzes and presentation slides. As they were unfamiliar in using ICT tools in teaching before, they had to spend time learning using them. Comparing physical homework and assignments, it took the teachers longer time to both explaining to the students and grading them. At the beginning stage, for small kids, parents had to involve in assisting their children using ICT tools for virtual classrooms. Some parents were reported needing assistance from teachers in using these ICT tools. Lastly, some of them mentioned lacking the clear guidelines on teaching and working hours. Some teachers were fully aware that not all students had the necessary resources such as devices and Internet to attend virtual classrooms, and parents were busy working during daytime. These students and parents therefore had to contact the teachers in the evening. Although the teachers tried to accommodate the best they could, they would appreciate clear guidelines regarding working time.
illustrates 50 terms of high frequency from the four open-ended questions in the questionnaire. The three most frequently used words in the answers to each open-ended question are highlighted in orange and shown in larger font. In general, the respondents recognized the pros and cons of virtual classrooms. The findings indicate that the inclusiveness of online education depends on several factors such as good Internet coverage, governmental support in providing the teachers and students resources needed for virtual classrooms, cooperation between teachers and parents, etc.
“Good”, “internet”, and “time” are the three words with the highest frequency in the question “What do you think of the virtual classroom?”, which appeared 70, 20, and 20 times, respectively in the responses. For respondents who used the word “good”, they believed that virtual classrooms were a good alternative to physical classrooms during the lockdown. However, some also highlighted the need for self-discipline for students to have an effective learning environment. As for the respondents who used the word “internet”, most of them recognized that stable Internet access was a prerequisite to inclusive online education. In the responses, the word “time” was mostly used as an adverb such as “at times”, “sometimes”, “for the time being”, and so on. Interestingly, there were five responses mentioning that the teaching and learning process was deemed timesaving as everyone was allowed to receive education at home without the hassle of commuting to school. These respondents included one teacher, two parents, and two T&Ps. Referring to their demographics, they either lived and worked in urban areas, lived in rural areas but worked in suburbs, or lived in suburbs but worked in urban areas.
For the question “Any positive experiences or interesting stories you would like to share with us about when you conduct virtual classrooms?”, the most frequent words included “good”, “share”, and “presenting”. They appeared 20, 14, and 14 times in the responses, respectively. In general, the word “good” was used in a positive tone throughout the responses. Among the good experiences they have had, some thought that the increased use of ICT tools in virtual classrooms has enhanced the ICT competencies of teachers and students because they were constantly encouraged to explore different tools for teaching and learning. In addition, respondents who had good experience with virtual classrooms reported other advantages such as the freedom for students to have classes in any setting and recorded class videos that allowed them to replay what they have learned or missed in class. Respondents who used the word “share” stated that the information sharing process was considered more effective with the use of screen sharing function, which has enabled the instructors and learners to share instructional materials, videos, or websites with ease. Next, those who used the word “presenting” emphasized that virtual classrooms enabled students to explore the ICT tools they needed to present their assignments in class.
Despite these advantages, virtual classrooms had their downsides too. For the question “Any negative experiences you would like to share with us about when you conduct virtual classrooms?”, the most frequent words included “internet”, “time”, and “connection”. They appeared 45, 26, and 24 times in the responses respectively. Poor Internet connectivity was regarded as the major barrier to remote teaching and learning in Malaysia among the respondents. Some students had to miss their classes when network disruption occurred. Of those who mentioned these statements, 55.6% of the respondents lived in urban areas, 31.9% in suburban areas, while only 12.5% in rural areas. Similar to the responses of opinions about virtual classrooms, the word “time” was also mostly used as an adverb. However, six respondents reported some young learners were having a hard time concentrating for long hours in the class. At the same time, it was challenging for teachers to interact with and monitor the students on the screen. For parents with young kids, distraction was inevitable when working from home because they sometimes had to be available to assist their kid in school activities. Next, the high frequency word “connection” in this section mainly referred to the unstable or weak Internet connection that respondents had experienced in online classes. Among those who highlighted the issue of poor Internet access, 41.7% lived in urban areas, 45.8% in suburban areas, and 12.5% in rural areas. When we investigated the locations of the schools among teachers who reported bad Internet, urban areas accounted for 42.9%, suburban areas accounted for 42.9%, and rural areas accounted for 14.2%.
Lastly, for the “Are there any other things you would like to inform us?” question, only 92 out of 379 respondents answered the question. The three most frequent words, i.e., “good”, “internet”, and “education” also appeared to have lower frequency. They were used 14 times, 13 times, and 10 times in the responses, respectively. For the word “good”, it has been used in both positive, neutral, and negative tones. These respondents were aware of the advantages and disadvantages of virtual classrooms. Five used the term as an adjective in a positive tone and suggested that good use of resources and equipment was the key to successful online learning and teaching. All of them were T&P. Three left their “good luck” messages, and one believed that it was not a good time for our country to implement virtual classrooms now given the limited resources we had. Following that, some stressed that a stable Internet connection was a determining factor in the readiness of the virtual classroom. However, the internet coverage in Malaysia was apparently still insufficient. Regarding the issue of internet access, three respondents believed that the government could certainly play a vital role in upgrading the necessary infrastructure required for remote learning and teaching. Finally, the respondents also shared their views on the current education system in Malaysia. Some thought that the pandemic has accelerated the digitization of education, while others believed that hybrid modus, i.e., classrooms taking place in virtual and physical form, was about to become the new normal for local education. Moreover, five respondents particularly emphasized the need for the Ministry of Education in Malaysia to develop a holistic education blueprint to promote education transformation to keep pace with the evolution of ICT. They also hoped that the findings of this research could serve as a reference for the policymakers.
3.3. Associations between Demographic Variables and Scores in Domains
We further divided the statistical data into three main categories for a more detailed analysis. The categories were the respondent being teacher only, parent only, and T&P. Relationships between demographic variables and the domains (affective, behavioral, cognitive, competence, and awareness) were further analyzed using t
-test and one-way ANOVA. Based on the output, certain domains were found statistically significant. Similarly, significant differences are also found in the overall readiness toward providing an inclusive education using virtual classrooms. Table 4
shows the mean (M) and standard deviation (SD) for each of the five domains and the overall scores. The grey-shaded columns indicate the groups with the higher mean value. Meanwhile the mean value with * indicates that the p
value is in the significance level with p
From the perspective of gender, significant differences were obtained in the affective and awareness domains for T&P and parent’s category. For other domains, no significant difference was obtained from these two categories. Despite not having any significant difference for male teacher category, their scores for affective and awareness domains were higher than female teachers. This indicates that both male teachers, parents and T&P were more concerned about and aware of the inclusiveness of education in virtual classrooms. Meanwhile for the category of teacher only, significant differences were obtained in behavioral and competence domain. For these two domains, females in all three categories scored higher than males. It can therefore be suggested that females in this study had higher willingness and competencies to make virtual classrooms more inclusive than males.
In terms of the age group, for all the categories with age more than 40 years old, significant differences were found in the affective domain. This reflects that these three categories had a more concerned attitude with regards to providing an inclusive education for students attending virtual classrooms. For the category of parent only, all domains including overall scores were found statistically significantly different, except for one domain, which is the behavioral domain. This suggests that parents above 40 years old tended to have higher readiness in providing an inclusive education to their children.
When looking into academic qualification, an interesting pattern was observed from the analysis of statistical data. It was found out that all three categories with a minimum master qualification showed higher scores in all domains in providing an inclusive education to students attending virtual classrooms, except for teachers having a bachelor’s degree and below in affective and awareness domains. Such a pattern was more obvious in parent and T&P categories where all the domains had higher mean scores, and almost all with significant differences. This strongly indicates that parents and T&P with a minimum master qualification were more concerned and willing to make an effort in making the learning environment more inclusive for students during the pandemic period.
With respect to residential areas, significant differences were found in the domains within different categories, but mostly in the groups of those living in rural areas. Combining higher means (grey-shaded columns) with significant differences, it was clearly shown that both teachers and parents from rural areas were more likely and ready to provide an inclusive virtual classroom to the students as compared to those from urban areas. However, from a different perspective, the school location in addition to the role of being a parent could have an influence on the scores. Referring to Table 4
, both significant differences and higher mean were found in T&P teaching in rural areas but for the category of teachers only, they were found in teachers teaching in urban areas. This might indicate that teachers without kids and taught in urban areas had better time and resources in making their virtual classrooms more inclusive to the students.
In terms of type of school, other than the domains of competency and awareness for T&P, all significant differences and higher mean scores were found in the T&P and teacher’s categories teaching in public schools. Similarly, concerning subjects taught, besides the domains of behavioral and cognitive for T&P, all significant differences and higher mean scores were found in the T&P and teacher’s categories teaching science and mathematics subjects. These findings suggest that teachers from public schools, and teachers of science and mathematics subjects tended to have more experience and hence higher readiness in providing a more inclusive education for students.
With regards to the years of teaching, we divided the categories T&P and teachers only into three groups, i.e., 10 years and below, 11 to 20 years, and above 20 years. Based on the result from ANOVA test (Table 5
), post hoc test was carried out to examine which groups among the categories had significant differences. Results of the post hoc test are indicated in Table 6
. Among all the domains, affective and awareness had the most significant differences in between the three groups. Teachers without kids who have taught more than 20 years were found more affective in providing an inclusive virtual classroom as compared to younger teachers without kids. In terms of having awareness concerning the inclusiveness of virtual classrooms, teachers with kids whose years of teaching were between 11 and 20 scored the highest.