A Virtual Talk organised by the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) recently highlighted the roles and challenges of institutions, students and governments in coping with the Covid-19 pandemic, with particular focus on open and distance learning (ODL) as an effective instrument to overcome current problems.

UT Rector and current AAOU President Prof Ojat Darojat, in his opening remarks said the initiative would hopefully help promote and support the development of ODL programmes and the sharing of ideas particularly among open and distance education institutions in Asia.

President/Vice-Chancellor Prof Dato’ Dr Mansor Fadzil, who was among the panellists who participated in the roundtable discussion, elaborated on OUM’s digital transformation and preparedness in delivering all its programmes through fully online mode during the pandemic without compromising on quality.

He added that the pandemic has helped people to understand how ODL is delivered which indirectly helped promote e-learning. ODL institutions must play a part in offering programmes that include key competencies needed by the industry.

Other panellists included Prof Ir Tian Belawati, a Professor at Universitas Terbuka Indonesia (UT) and Dr Li Kam Cheong, who is the Director of Research Office at Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK).

Meanwhile, Prof Tian shared an interesting situation in Indonesia whereby UT has opened up their Learning Management System (LMS) to be used by other universities and also giving free access of their digital materials to the public. Thus, the pandemic has seen UT forging new collaborations but gaining new competitors too. However, UT focuses on giving students better access to learning materials and providing their services to a wider market.

Dr Li, on the other hand, stated that the key to success in implementing and expanding ODL is by collecting input from students, respecting their views and allowing flexibility in teaching and learning. Quality education is not only about learning, but also ensuring the students’ well-being. Accordingly, OUHK has carried out a new set of transformative initiatives to address and adapt to the current challenges.

The talk, with the theme “Reshaping Resilient Open Education Leadership in Asia During Covid-19”, was moderated by Prof Dr Maximus Gorky Sembiring, UT’s Head of Centre for Research. The event was aired live on YouTube via Universitas Terbuka TV channel on 17 November.

Towards the end of the talk, Prof Gorky reminded the speakers to be prepared for more exciting events coming their way next year.

OUM is an active and long-time member of the AAOU. In addition to regular discourses with other AAOU members, OUM has hosted the AAOU Annual Conference twice –  the first in 2007 and again in 2015.


Click here to learn more about AAOU.