Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, online learning has become the standard approach in education institutions around the world. American public policy outfit The Brookings Institution reported that close to 90% of high-income countries have begun providing remote learning opportunities, nearly all of which are online.
Meanwhile, UNESCO shared hundreds of links to free online resources for students, educators and administrators to cope with teaching and learning at home. In the UK, recent surveys have revealed that online learning is growing in popularity as students appreciate the flexibility and financial benefits it offers.
In Malaysia, both public and private universities have adopted some form of remote or online learning with varying degrees of success. One student in Sabah caught people’s attention after climbing a tree to get better Internet access so she could sit for her online exams.
As a response to the new normal, Open University Malaysia (OUM) is leveraging on our 20-year experience in online learning provision to give our best to the learners. As an open and distance learning institution, we have been delivering programmes online where learners can access the University’s learning management system, myINSPIRE, for learning resources.
With the current pandemic, the University is switching to fully online mode for most programmes. The University has launched other initiatives as well, such as online examinations, presentations, viva voce sessions and theses submission.
Live tutorials are replacing face-to-face classes, in which learners need to participate from eight to 10 of such tutorials for all courses each semester. Learners who miss the e-tutorials need not worry as they can view the recordings on myINSPIRE. These are complemented with e-lessons and various other multimedia learning materials. Meanwhile, exams will continue to take place online involving take-home essays and timed multiple-choice formats.
In the near future, learners can expect a personalised semester concept, which will allow enrolment to occur at any time rather than based on the current fixed semester system. The University also hopes to offer on-demand assessment to allow learners to sit for exams whenever they are ready. In tandem, both initiatives may pave the way to an open entry/open exit structure, which has been implemented successfully in several institutions in the UK, Canada and Australia.
What is great about online learning is that it has proven effective across different educational contexts, including professional development courses. For example, tech giant IBM reports that participants learn five times more material in online learning courses using multimedia content than in traditional face-to-face courses. The reason for this is simple: online learning gives them control over how they study, thus helping them move through a course more effectively.
Clearly, the word that best describes online learning is flexibility. If you choose OUM, our commitment to flexibility will let you study comfortably at your own time and without giving up on work or other commitments. Flexibility will definitely provide you with a meaningful study experience.
PROF DATO’ DR MANSOR FADZIL
Open University Malaysia