Labuan teacher uses digital tech to improve student learning

Claudius Upin (bottom row, second from left) and students using Google Meet to connect.

KOTA KINABALU, 21 Mei – To the students of SMK Rancha-Rancha in Labuan, Claudius Upin is known as a dedicated English teacher and, more recently, as a budding “edu-tainment” TikTok influencer.

Claudius, originally from Kota Kinabalu, is also known as @gtucjr on TikTok. He has been leveraging online platforms and social media in an effort to motivate students to learn.

In 2020, he was searching for a way to keep students engaged while learning remotely due to the pandemic and stumbled across a TikTok workshop for teachers.

“At that time, I was almost on the verge of giving up because it was very hard to keep my students engaged.

Claudius Upin.

“So when I saw a post from a government officer regarding a TikTok workshop that was being held, I jumped at the opportunity,” Claudius told FMT.

On July 10, Claudius, who has been teaching in Labuan for 14 years, made his first educational video and shared it with his students via Google Classroom. He said it took him three hours to create the 20-second video.

“My students were instantly engaged, with some even proudly saying ‘Our teacher has become a TikTok-er!’.”

Eager to improve his ability to teach online classes, Claudius continued attending webinars, eventually becoming certified as a Google Education Trainer in March.

Through the knowledge gained from these webinars, he has incorporated platforms such as Google Earth and Google Arts & Culture to enhance his students’ learning experience.

Although the move to integrate technology and digital media into education was largely catalysed by Covid-19, Claudius believed that it would be beneficial to maintain some of the practices post-pandemic.

“Even with schools reopened, I think the best way to teach children is through blended learning, whereby teachers using digital media provide lesson materials to their students prior to in-person lessons.”

He said blended learning and online lessons had the potential to increase participation and learning among children who were typically more introverted.