FLORENCE KUEK | NG SOO BOON

The Covid-19 Pandemic and Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia raised unprecedented challenges as face-to-face (F2F) interaction is no more the preferred choice. Tapping into the challenge cum opportunity, namely, taking teaching and learning from physical setting to the online platform, the Malaysian Chinese Writers Association and two other collaborating units worked quickly to innovate an online program on Malaysian Chinese (Mahua) Literature Appreciation, customizing it for the Chinese school teachers all across Malaysia. This 10-week online program was designed in response to the feedback of Chinese teachers expressing their own lack of understanding of Mahua literature in the government textbooks and called for more support for training in literature pedagogy (Malaysia Sin Chew Daily, 6 June 2020). The number of registrants for the program reached 500 pax, confirming the demand for the program as well as the plus point of running it online. It was obvious that the online mode facilitated accessibility and equity in participation for Chinese teachers, even those from far and remote places on the East Coast and East Malaysia. The program, which discussed one text from the Elementary textbook and one text from the High School textbook each week, provided a guided framework on literature appreciation with easy-to-understand teaching aids. Interactions were encouraged both in the platform chat box and on a dedicated social media site. This study reports on the rationale of the study, the research design, and the program structure of Phase One (1) of the program. The final portion of this study highlights the researchers’ reflection on lessons learned from such an innovative online program that bridges across the geographical divides to answer the needs of the time.