Learning Outside the Online Box

Published by Afterschool.my on Mar 31, 2022, 11:12 am

Due to the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic, this has resulted in a slew of limitations on people from all around the world that includes socialisation, travel, gathering in large groups, learning and many more due to the necessity of following standard operating procedure to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus. 

None are more affected by the pandemic than us students, where it has put a lot of restrictions and restrain on our lives leading to the coining of the term “online box", which is used as a metaphor to explain the isolation and restrictions that students face due to the ongoing pandemic which has no end in sight. Due to this, students are forced to adapt to a new mode of online learning which involves attending online classes, presentation in front of a screen and online assignment discussion. 

As students, we faced different types of challenges during the course of our online learning these past two years since the pandemic. This includes unstable internet, environment distractions, limitation of discussion, and the lack of physical connection. This has resulted in many online classes becoming mundane and repetitive. We are not just facing social isolation issues but also facing health issues such as muscle stiffness and eye strain due to spending a lot of hours in front of the computer or a laptop. 


After experiencing and learning in an online mode for the past two years, we came to the realisation  of the importance of studying and communicating face-to-face with our lecturers and friends. As students, we felt that we were missing out on the normal student life just before the pandemic, having physical classes, discussion and gathering with our classmates .Ivy Low, 20, a last year student studying in Diploma in Finance and Investment from TAR UC says that “I find online classes very boring, I don’t like this method of learning. Since the start of my University life, I’ve been studying online ever since. I can only see and hear my online friends and lecturers through a digital screen, but never able to interact with them on a more personal level which may not aid my overall learning experience”.

Online learning is indeed a crucial step for the prevention and control of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it has a long term detrimental effect on us students' ability to develop communication skills. Therefore, we still insist that physical interaction is what makes the students more motivated to effectively conduct their studies and daily socialisation.

As Second Year students studying Bachelor of Public Relations (Honours), we were given an opportunity to organise an awareness and educational campaign as part of our senior year studies under the course, “PR Campaign Planning & Management” this semester.  With the partnering of Malaysian CARE, the ‘X-perience Campaign 2022’ was born with the goal of raising funds to create a music room in a local juvenile prison for young offenders. This campaign seeks to enhance public awareness towards young offenders and inculcate the value of giving second chances to one another. 

As the organising committee for this campaign, we were so excited to finally organise a campaign on ground for the first time in two years after having fully online classes since the start of the pandemic. The excitement has made us make good use of the physical campaign preparation opportunities, to learn and absorb more skills and knowledge after being isolated for so long.

Here are some experiences being shared by the students of ‘X-perience Campaign 2022’ to share their experiences and perspective on the challenges in organising a campaign during this ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

Physical campaign brings more meaningful effects


Picture 1.0: Bachelor of Public Relations (Honours) Year 2 Student, H’ng Wan Xing, Chairperson of ‘X-perience Campaign 2022’

After two years of online learning, we have started to adapt  slowly. Our campaign advisors and committee members have frequent departmental meetings weekly. Before we started to plan the “X-perience campaign 2022”, we were struggling in making a decision whether our campaign would be conducted online or offline, given the current Covid-19 situation in the nation. 

“After much discussion and planning with our collaborative partner, Malaysian CARE, campaign advisors and the committee members, a collective decision was made to conduct the campaign physically on-ground at TAR UC KL Main Campus. This decision was made with the desire to enable the campaign to deliver a more meaningful audience experience through the perspectives and point of view of  young offenders,” said H’ng Wan Xing, Chairperson of X-perience Campaign 2022.  

Therefore we decided to really put ourselves and the youth into the shoes of the young offenders,  'Path of Decision,' a role-play activity was developed with the aim to let  participants experience the journey young offenders go through. 

“We want to enable the audience to experience the difficulties they go through, seeking for hope and chances throughout the journey”, she added. 

Music heals people’s heart

Picture 2.0: Bachelor of Public Relations (Honours) Year 2 Student,Jeffrey Yap Wen Kai, Public Relations and Media Relations department leader of ‘X-perience Campaign 2022’

In the ‘X-perience Campaign 2022 ’, one of the main goals is for the creation of a music room in a juvenile prison in Malaysia. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an American poet once said “Music is the universal language of mankind.” We believe that music connects with people, especially the youths through touching the soul of youth with their favourite music. There are so many different types of music that there is always one that suits you, your all time favourite music for healing your mind.

“Not everyone can understand different languages but everyone can understand musical tunes and notes. For me I think that creating a music room for young offenders in local juvenile prisons really helps the young offenders to boost their self-confidence by learning the skills of playing musical instruments. I think that people that know how to play musical instruments are really attractive and really will impress others.” said student Jeffrey Yap Wen Kai, leader of the Public Relations and Media Relations department of X-perience Campaign 2022. 

“Music, I believe, is a part of my life. As the leader of the Public Relations and Media Relations department, when preparing these press materials for the X-perience campaign 2022, music appears to be with me and helps in relieving stress. Whenever I'm pleased, I listen to music, even when I'm sad, I listen to music.” he added.  We believe that music is essential for everyone.

“Listening to the different melodies of music, music has the effect of healing my soul, I believe that music can also heal the hearts of every young offender”, he added. 

The Perspective Matters

Picture 3.0: Bachelor of Public Relations (Honours) Year 2 Student, Kua Mei Wen, the Leader of the Programme and Exhibition department of X-perience Campaign 2022

Working with different personalities will be very challenging but it can be incredibly rewarding. "I felt very challenged as a leader because I am leading 30 members in this department. It's hard to communicate online and I need to be consistent in external affairs as well, especially when members have differing opinions on matters,” said Mei Wen. 

“As a leader, I also need to be objective and unbiased in evaluating the suggestions from the team members as there are too many opinions from them,” she added.

Throughout the whole discussion, we noticed that being in an ‘online box’ for a period of time helps us understand things in a different light and open up the path for a whole lot more understanding and tolerance. "By listening and digesting all the opinions, I realise that analysing the issue in different perspectives is very important and this concept is consistent with our campaign's end goal, which is to educate the public to look through the young offenders from a different perspective", said Mei Wen. 

Therefore, we created a three station ‘Mini Games’, Break the Perception, Colour Series and Titanic Game for this campaign to educate the public to notice and comprehend from all directions among the young offenders life. As young offenders are negatively portrayed in society for a significant period of time, it can affect our perspective by creating a negative bias for them. Without meaning to, we zoom into all the things that they do not work out successfully and cause the young offenders to miss out some of the wonderful things happening around them. Eventually, this can leave them feeling that everything is wrong, and leave them blinkered to the balance. 

In a nutshell, we hope to build a strong connection and new understanding between the young offenders and the public from this campaign. We believe people can change and they are willing to learn from their mistakes. This is because the personality of a person isn't set in stone. With appropriate guidance and given a second chance, there may be some wizards in this group who we can work with to build a better environment in the community. Who knows some of them may be the leader of the country!

A wise man, Andy Andrews, once said: “challenges are a gift, an opportunity to learn.” At the same time, this also enables us as new student organisers, to engage and further develop our own skills, knowledge and understanding of planning and managing a campaign during Covid-19 pandemic. Even though we have been trapped in this online box for almost two years, but we strongly believe that every occurrences that happens in life has a reason. Covid-19 is a terrible pandemic that has caused many challenges and cast a dark cloud in our lives. Nonetheless, we are reminded that there is a silver lining in every dark cloud and light at the end of every tunnel. Let's be brave to X-scape from the darkness and be our own KING in X-Kingdom at The Rimba from 5th April to 7th April 2022,10 am to 5 pm!

Picture 4.0: Picture of committee having online meeting and planning

Brainstorming Ideas: The committees of the X-perience Campaign 2022 having an online meeting with the Malaysian CARE team for the awareness campaign planning progress.

Picture 5.0: Students wearing jail shirt

The X-perience ambassadors: The students become ambassadors for the X-perience Campaign 2022 by emphasising the importance of giving young offenders a second chance.

Picture 6.0: Students promoting about the event

Spreading the message: Bachelor of Public Relations (Honours) Year 2 Student went on a roving team around the campus to raise awareness about the X-perience campaign and to help everyone recognise the potential of young offenders.

Picture 7.0: Behind the scene of preparing for “X-perience Campaign 2022”


Prepare Ahead: The students from different departments of X-perience Campaign 2022 preparing the decoration of the booth together.

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