Online learning platform allows students to donate to charity when redeeming rewards

Superstar Teacher has been supporting the Children’s Cancer Foundation since 2012.

| Sponsored | December 08, 2021, 12:00 PM

Every weekday afternoon, Qusai Mullamitha (pictured above with his elder brother) — finished with school for the day and having settled back in at home — pulls out his laptop and logs onto a website where he goes through online lessons walking him through subjects including English, maths, and science.

Such has been the 12-year-old’s routine for the past few years since his parents decided to ditch conventional tuition classes for Superstar Teacher, an online learning platform.

In a pandemic-scarred world where the value of in-person activities and interactions has become all the more apparent, the Mullamitha family is bucking the trend.

Yet according to Qusai’s mother, Fakhera, the family hasn’t looked back since.

Going virtual

Back in 2019, Qusai, then a student in Primary Four, came home with less than stellar results from his first term exams.

“We are not the type to dwell on bad results,” Fakhera told me.

“We just tell them: ‘Okay, try harder, work harder next time round’.”

Yet, as many parents can relate, it can be hard not to worry — Qusai after all was already taking extra classes at a tuition centre.

“So we did seek guidance from friends and family, and in this case, a friend of mine introduced us to Superstar Teacher.”

A precocious boy, who prefaces many of his sentences with the word “actually”, it didn’t take Qusai long to adapt to the online programme.

“Actually, everything was very good. All the teachers explained very clearly and I could understand a lot,” he said.

“There was actually no problem.”

Now a Primary Six student who has just completed the PSLE, Qusai aspires to one day be a scientist and declined to comment on what his favourite subject at school was.

He said: “Actually I don’t (have a favourite subject) because I enjoy all my lessons.”

A perk of learning through online lessons is that Qusai can replay the explanation of a particularly hard concept as many times as he wants.

And if that doesn’t clear up the confusion, students can also ask questions of their teachers and clarify their doubts through a one-to-one chat function on the platform.

“You have to type out your question or take a picture of it, and then you’ll get it immediately because there’s a person to help you on the other side,” explained Qusai.

A touching moment for the family

Another feature that has aided Qusai’s transition from physical tuition centre to virtual learning platform is Superstar Teacher’s rewards system that gamifies one’s progress through the curriculum.

The system involves awarding star points to students whenever they complete lessons and assessments on the platform.

These points can then be redeemed for a smorgasbord of toys, gadgets, and prizes ranging from bubble tea gift cards to a Nintendo Switch.

When it came time for Qusai to redeem something, one prize stood out to him — an option to turn his hard-earned points into a cash donation to the Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF) — which Superstar Teacher has partnered with since 2012.

The tie-up has seen Superstar Teacher support more than 190 CCF beneficiaries by making their courses available to students who have cancer and are unable to attend school.

“My father actually has cancer... So I actually saw a lot of what he had to go through,” said Qusai.

“I thought of the young children who had to go through what my father is going through. So then I thought to myself that actually I don’t need (these other prizes first), let me donate to the charity.”

“He immediately came to ask us if it was okay to redeem his prize for the Children’s Cancer Foundation,” recalled Fakhera, the proud mother beaming.

“The fact that this is one of the rewards that the kids can get — I would say (Superstar Teacher is) playing their part in trying to encourage kids to donate,” she added.

Qusai’s brother — a secondary school student — has also followed his brother in redeeming a donation to the non-profit.

From July to November this year, S$710 in donations have been redeemed by 62 students at Superstar Teacher — 10 per cent of all prize redemptions.

In addition, Superstar Teacher matches each donation dollar for dollar.

Getting more involved in the children’s studies

Despite any misgivings one might have about a virtual learning platform — given that it involves viewing online lessons rather than having a physical teacher — Fakhera says that the format has been beneficial to her and her husband.

Of course, there’s the convenience of being able to access the lessons whenever and from wherever — a contrast to how the family would often return home late after fetching the children from the tuition centre.

The flexibility also means that Qusai is not forced to slog away at coursework if for some reason he isn’t feeling up for it.

“We can do it for as long or as short as we want,” said Fakhera.

“If you're not feeling too good that day, it's not like we missed a lesson or something, you know, we can do maybe just half an hour.”

There’s also the fact that she too can sit through the online lessons with the children, giving her a better grasp of the syllabus and allowing her to be more involved in her son’s learning journey.

“One thing that really helped was knowing how the questions are marked,” she said.

“So sometimes when Qusai goes for his exams and comes back we feel that he should be awarded marks for a particular question (and we wonder) why he wasn’t.

Watching the videos with him helps us to understand how teachers in the school's award marks.”

Learning beyond the academics

Yet, there are also intangibles granted by the online format of teaching that will likely stand Qusai in better stead than pure academic achievement.

For one, Fakhera said the self-directed style of learning has so far seen Qusai and his older brother — who also uses Superstar Teacher — take more ownership over their own studies.

While previously, they relied on mum and dad to ask them to get ready for tuition, these days the children take the initiative to start up the classes.

“They know how to manage their time properly, that there is this particular time to sit down and turn on my Superstar Teacher,” she explained.

“This way, I think they learn to be more independent; they don’t need adult supervision all the time.”

Top image courtesy of Qusai Mullamitha and Superstar Teacher

Writing this Superstar Teacher-sponsored article gave the writer nostalgic memories of when he was in school.