Teachers as the Experts in Designing Learning Activities

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“I am sorry because I feel like I am using you to cover my weakness,” the teacher said.

“No, you shouldn’t see it that way. You are doing something that all teachers should do.

Last year, one of the teachers from my school back home in Malaysia asked me a favour. She invited me to share my thoughts with her students in the history class she is in charge. They were discussing “the importance of awareness in the nation building”.

I was even more than happy.

I miss teaching.

I miss the interaction with students.

We conducted the class via Skype at 4am (Finland time), to meet the Malaysian 10 o’clock in the morning. I made use the session to discuss with the students about the differences between the terms ‘badawi’ and ‘madani’ to understand the basic idea of civilisation.

It was followed by another session to discuss “how democracy is compatible with Islam”. Based on The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, we challenged the students to investigate why so many Muslim countries (including our country, Malaysia) scored lower than many ‘western countries’ especially from the Scandinavia?

The teacher felt she took the ‘easier’ way by assigning me to talk about a topic that she felt she’s not familiar with.

I emphasised that she was, in fact, doing what all teachers should do when we genuinely embrace the framework of 21st-century education. Teachers should not tide themselves to the idea of being the content experts. Students nowadays are no longer rely on teachers to know. Information is everywhere. The internet is available 24/7. Teachers now are more needed to act as the experts in designing the learning activities. And one of them is to identify someone, somebody, something, beyond the classroom, that is believed to be useful for the students, and connect the source with the learning activities.


The teacher was not only discussing with me about the subject. She also shared her opinion regarding the students’ previous knowledge, their strengths and weaknesses, to make me aware of my audience beforehand. Those are the essential parts of a good pedagogical script in designing technology-enhanced learning (TEL).

She also discussed with me about technological aspects; such as the backup plan if Google Hangout doesn’t work, and how the whole plan can be moved smoothly to Skype. Those are the technological script! Among the technological script’s contents, she highlighted the text chatting function so that students can ask questions at any time during my presentation.

The teacher even planned how the students can produce vlog after the session as her method to evaluate the students’ understanding and ability to analyse and making connections. She guided the students to communicate their understanding.

All those plans are invaluable and important for current understanding and needs in learning.

TEL: The Importance of Awareness in the Nation Building from Hasrizal Abdul Jamil on Vimeo.

When teachers successfully escape from the notion of being the ‘content experts’, they will move forward to create more progressive learning activities, benefitting all the resources available around. This is what we need. This is what the students need.

I am 9000km away, but I am very excited about what the teacher did. The school is evidently moving towards a better idea of what an education should be.


Oulu, FI