Working Papers   134

Cambodian Secondary School Teachers’ Readiness for Online Teaching During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Published: 30-May-2022
Keyword: Technological readiness, TPACK, secondary school teachers, Covid-19, Cambodia
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The Covid-19 pandemic locked students all around the world out of school and caused unprecedented educational disruptions for more than two years. Like other countries, Cambodia switched from the traditional physical classrooms to online and distance learning during school closures. Cambodian schools were able to reopen their doors briefly at the end of 2020 after the first nationwide school closure in March earlier that year. However, largescale community outbreaks in February 2021 forced schools to close again. There have been successful lessons in developed countries where online learning and teaching were used in a form of blended learning, a combination of online and in-person lesson delivery, to help low-performing students in disadvantaged areas. Nevertheless, teachers in developing countries, like Cambodia, were caught unprepared when schools were suddenly shut down and education had to be moved away from traditional in-person classrooms. It is likely that the mere supply of online learning is not sufficient to induce take-up, student engagement and effective learning. Understanding online learning and teaching practises as well as their technological readiness can be indispensable for future policy discussions on how to make education systems more resilient against future shocks and uncertainties.

This study intends to review alternative teaching methods during the Covid-19 pandemic and examine teacher readiness in adopting educational technology (edtech) for online teaching as well as factors associated with readiness in the context of secondary schools in Cambodia. This study employs descriptive statistics to examine teaching practises and teacher readiness, while regression analysis is used to identify factors correlated with teacher readiness for online teaching. To assess teacher readiness, we adopted the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK), a framework developed by Mishra and Koehler (2006). Data analysis draws on the surveys of 687 teachers at 43 secondary schools in 10 Cambodian provinces, primarily collected by CDRI and the MoEYS in November 2021. Interviews were conducted remotely by ten trained enumerators via Zoom, Telegram, and telephone. The response rate was 86.17 percent.

The findings show that nearly all the sampled teachers experienced teaching online during the school closure, although about a third of them had completely returned to physical in-person teaching at the time of the interview. Although a good share of teachers adopted both synchronous and asynchronous teaching approaches for their online teaching, more than half of teachers who taught online used only one approach (either synchronous or asynchronous). Male teachers at resource schools in urban areas are more likely to use both approaches for their online teaching. The most popular platforms used for synchronous teaching are Google Classroom and Zoom, although some teachers also use Facebook Messenger and Telegram for their live sessions. A concern about the quality of classroom teaching is that nearly 30 percent of those who used a synchronous approach did not prepare new teaching materials other than what they normally used in traditional in-person classrooms. For asynchronous teaching, providing worksheets and reading materials are the most common practises, while very few teachers developed videos or PowerPoint slides for their students.

To prepare themselves for online teaching, teachers took part in capacity development activities, mostly in the form of training workshops or seminars, yet about 20 percent of teachers reported that they did not participate in any capacity development activities during the pandemic. A majority of teachers have access to computers, but most of them used smartphones for online teaching. Another noticeable trend is that a large percentage of teachers have access to school computers and other facilities, but not many of them use the available resources. Based on Cambodian Secondary School Teachers’ Readiness for Online Teaching During the Covid-19 Pandemic the TPACK instrument, Cambodian secondary teachers think their pedagogical and content knowledge is relatively high at 3.92 and 3.88 respectively. However, their technological knowledge is low at 2.87. In other words, Cambodian teachers are not very familiar with technology in general but are more confident in their knowledge of pedagogy and subject content. The regression analysis suggests that at the individual level, factors that influence teacher readiness include gender, age, perceived challenge and perceived effectiveness of online teaching. Experience teaching at private schools and level of student-teacher interaction are also found to be positively associated with teacher readiness, while initial pre-service and in-service training are found to have little to no influence on teacher readiness. Teachers with access to computers seem to demonstrate a higher level of readiness for online teaching. As expected, teachers in Phnom Penh are likely to be more ready for online teaching, but to our surprise, teachers at resource schools exhibit a lower level of readiness than their peers at general schools.

Based on the findings, this study offers some implications for policy discussion and suggestions for further studies. First, there is a need to revisit teacher training curricula and examine if more edtech courses should be introduced in the programs. The MoEYS should also consider providing systematic in-service training courses on edtech for practising teachers, in particular for female and older teachers. Second, online learning is unlikely to stay after the pandemic, as a majority of schools and teachers have completely returned to the physical classroom as normal. The MoEYS should make extra efforts to keep the online approach as a part of learning and teaching. Third, there should be a further investigation into the reasons behind the underutilisation of school resources and how these resources can be effectively put to use. The finding that teachers at resource schools are less prepared raises more questions than answers. Since this is a correlational study, more rigorous studies using quasi-experiment should be done to assess the effectiveness of school resources.

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