This paper discusses the issues and challenges experienced by 91 first-year undergraduate students at a local university in Malaysia in undertaking an interview project in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, which required the use of mobile and computer technology as part of their group assignment. The assignment initially required each student to conduct an interview with international tourists. Unfortunately, due to the international border closure imposed by the Malaysian government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, international tourism came to a standstill. Due to this circumstance, some adjustments were made to allow students to interview their colleagues or local residents during the Movement Control Order in Malaysia, which is equivalent to a partial lockdown. This study uses students’ videos and portfolio assignments as primary data sources. The findings showed that students encountered four issues and challenges in completing the assignment: difficulty in finding participants for the interview, an interviewee who could speak in English, inconducive environment to conduct the interview and poor internet connection to conduct online interviews and to upload a video for submission to the lecturer. Despite all of these issues and challenges, student’s individual online presentation and self-reflection indicated three major benefits of the assignment: students gained self-confidence in speaking and communicating in English, students learned the importance of listening skill by asking follow-up questions, and students learned the skill of video editing. This paper concludes with suggestions to improve the interview project, as online teaching and learning will be extended until the following semester.
Wendy Hiew, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Malaysia