Issue 2 - 5 April 2021
Monday, 05 April 2021
Charles Darwin University
Charles Darwin University VET Lecturer Hieu Nguyen and VET Product Specialist Lisa Jeffery discuss their online program
Charles Darwin University VET Lecturer Hieu Nguyen and VET Product Specialist Lisa Jeffery discuss their online program

Online learning to remote East Indonesia

By Helen Pereira

The success of a pilot online English learning program for two remote campuses of the Universitas Pattimura (UNPATTI) in East Indonesia has started the year on a high for a dedicated Charles Darwin university team.

UNPATTI approached CDU for an online program for its teachers of English as an additional language, given that the COVID-19 pandemic meant visits in person to Darwin were not possible. 

The interactive course was delivered by CDU VET Lecturer Hieu Nguyen to two of UNPATTI’s remote campuses in the Maluku Archipelago – on the islands of Aru and South-West Maluku.

Normally, this would pose no problem to CDU, with its long history of online education, but having a cohort of 15 lecturers in the teaching of English and their students, technical issues with delivery and monsoonal storms created some challenges.

VET Product Specialist Lisa Jeffery, herself an experienced teacher, said that because of differing requirements of the students and lecturers it was necessary to bring the team together with their teacher, Hieu Nguyen and facilitators online, before the course started.

“We created a group in WhatsApp because everyone used that platform,” Ms Jeffery said.

The students then had to become accustomed to Learnline and Zoom where they could see and interact with their teacher and each other.

But when storms in both East Indonesia and Darwin took out the power - at different times - the technical challenge was huge, with Ms Jeffery eventually resorting to keeping lessons online from her laptop and a USB, while Ms Nguyen continued to teach.

At the other end, generators were brought in to keep the students online and during lessons Ms Jeffery, as moderator, maintained contact with students through social media if they lost connection.

“We delivered every one of those ten lessons on time no matter what,” said Ms Jeffery.

UNPATTI Professor Bob Mossé said “passion and perseverance” had enabled the success of the course.

“Distance could not prevent our spirit to learn and engage with another culture as well as understanding the knowledge,” said Professor Mossé.

CDU Global Director Joanne Chrystal said she was pleased with the success of the program for UNPATTI, one of CDU’s strategic partners in Indonesia.

“Despite the challenges the current global pandemic presents, CDU demonstrated its strength as a leader in online learning by delivering the program to the remote islands of Aru and South-West Maluku,” Ms Chrystal said.