UNIVERSITI Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) is the first institution of higher learning in Malaysia to have a Frog Classroom.
Its deputy vice-chancellor (Academic and International Affairs) Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Marzuki Mustafa launched the new classroom at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities.
The Frog Classroom was set up at the university in a collaboration between YTL Foundation, FrogAsia and a UKM team led by Prof Dr Radha M K Nambiar, professor of literacy and the chair of the Centre for Literacy and Sociocultural Transformation.
Prof Radha’s research interests and publications centre on understanding how learners learn and what can be done to enhance their learning by exploring the role of strategies, socialisation practices, learning styles, teachers and the digitisation of knowledge. She led a study on the impact of Frog Classrooms published in 2017 – A Study on the Impact of Redesigned Malaysian Classrooms on Teacher Pedagogy and Student Learning Behaviour and Outcomes for the 21st Century.
“The Frog Classroom in UKM is the only one of its kind developed by and with the assistance of students, who were told to create a space for learning that they would want to use.
“This new space differs from the traditional classroom in terms of physical arrangement.
“While traditional classrooms promote transmission of knowledge from the teacher to the student, this space serves to foster co-construction of knowledge, where the teacher and learners work interactively to solve problems and more.
“As a 21st Century learning and teaching space, harnessing technology is key to optimising this room,” Prof Radha explained.
The Frog Classroom Programme is an initiative by YTL Foundation in collaboration with FrogAsia, provider of the Frog Virtual Learning Environment.
The programme aims to transform classrooms in government schools throughout Malaysia into 21st Century learning spaces that promote technology-enabled, student-focused learning.
Frog Classrooms are equipped with 4G Internet, mobile devices that provide access to the Frog VLE, as well as the programme’s hallmark curved tables, designed to create more opportunities for peer-led learning and interaction.
YTL Foundation supports schools in the setting up of Frog Classrooms through project management and the provision of furniture and fittings to complete the classroom.
“We are truly excited to set up the Frog Classroom at UKM who has been our partner in validating the effectiveness of the classroom in schools.
“The installation of the classroom in UKM is an endorsement of a programme that we have invested heavily into in the past five years to improve education in this country. “We hope that having this education space in a university for the first time will facilitate research by both undergraduate and postgraduate students on new pedagogical techniques that can be applied in Malaysia, as well as its effects on learning styles, strategies and learners,” said YTL Foundation programme director Datin Kathleen Chew.
The 2016 study led by Prof Radha found that when using the Frog Classroom, teachers became more creative and innovative, using a greater variety of materials, activities and methods during lessons. The role of teachers had also evolved into facilitators, guiding students in the learning process rather than serving as the source of knowledge and information. Using the Frog Classrooms as Frog Hubs, teachers were able to hold discussions with their peers from other schools and share best practices to help each other improve their teaching skills.
For the students, the Frog Classrooms helped in honing their 21st Century learning skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, decision-making, collaboration and cooperation, as well as soft skills like communication. The students were found to display better peer interaction and better ability to learn from each other in the Frog Classrooms, which were more learner-centred – with more individualised, self-directed and independent learning.
Any school can apply to have a Frog Classroom, with selection based on a list of criteria. Interested schools as well as corporations keen to support the programme can visit www.frogclassroom.com for more information.