An elementary school student takes his online test from home in Makassar in June. (Antara Photo/Arnas Padda)

Character-Building Still Possible in Virtual Classroom


SEPTEMBER 07, 2020

Jakarta. Teachers can still shape students' character to transform them into future-ready citizens in a virtual classroom, according to India-based software development company Zoho Corporation. 

Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim aims to strengthen character education in addition to literacy and numeracy. The minister believed encouraging exemplary qualities such as creativity and co-operative skills would prepare students to face future challenges.


Nurturing positive character traits, however, can be challenging amid the Covid-19 pandemic as classes shift to the virtual realm.

In remote learning, children are missing out on same-aged peer interactions that are necessary to shape their social behaviors. Schools are also unable to hold physical bonding activities to complement their online classes.

"What was not visible in the past was how students were also learning the basic rules of society, as well as how to cooperate and live visibly with other fellow human beings. At school, there are lots of learning and character-building happening, but this may be difficult in the digital web," Gibu Mathew, Zoho Corp APAC vice president and general manager, told the Jakarta Globe in an online interview on Friday.

Even so, it is still possible to replicate character-building activities in a virtual classroom.

For instance, teachers can assign students to groups to work on online projects. Allowing students to have online roleplay on a regular basis can help them become better team players. 

"Visibility to technology at a young age also helps them to become more creative and broaden their horizons," Gibu added. 

Ensuring data security and privacy also becomes a must as these interactions take place virtually.

"With remote learning, information around children and students is now stored online. The tools used must follow the best practices in privacy and data security, especially if children are involved," he added.  

For security measures, all Zoho platforms, including its teleconference app Zoho Meeting, have activated two-factor authentication by default. A one-time password (OTP) is sent as an SMS before granting entry to the user into the video conference.

No Student Left Behind

Meanwhile, teachers still have to respond to individual learning needs.

A student may excel in a particular subject but are struggling with others. Those not used to online learning are also at risk of falling behind even further. This calls for a more robust collaboration between the education triangle of students, parents, and teachers.

"Whatever tool is available should support this triangle. All of them have to be on the same page in terms of up to what level the child has learned in class. There should be a sufficient mechanism and feedback loop," Gibu said.

Online presentation software Zoho Show enables parents to check if their child has viewed the course material or not. Downloadable presentations also allow students to catch up on by reviewing the class with their parents at home.

"There are mechanisms that allow collaboration metrics to be available to the person who is sharing content. I believe the best approach is something that is open for students, teachers, and parents to track the [learning] progress in the same place," he said.

Founded in 1996, Zoho Corporation has launched more than 45 applications with over 50 million users worldwide.