By PROF DATUK DR MANSOR FADZIL

ACCORDING to Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford Graduate School of Education, important skills that learners should possess include “the abilities to find and organise information to solve problems, frame and conduct investigations, analyse and synthesise data, apply learning to new situations, self-monitor and improve one’s own learning and performance, communicate well in multiple forms, work in teams and learn independently.”

This definition easily describes what it takes to succeed in an open and distance learning (ODL) environment. Aspiring to get ahead in their careers or simply learn something new, open and distance learners often opt to return to the world of studying later in their lives. Many are working adults who pursue part-time studies despite having to manage hectic lifestyles and juggle various personal and professional commitments.

No one should fear that becoming an open and distance learner will be difficult or challenging. If you want to learn, you can rest assured that OUM is committed to ensuring you will get the best start in your educational journey.

To be the best, these individuals must not only manage their studies well, but also adapt to using technology to learn and hone additional traits that are particularly relevant in an ODL environment, such as independence, multitasking skills, discipline and tenacity.

At Open University Malaysia (OUM), we place great emphasis on ensuring learners begin their studies on the right note. Hence, all new learners must complete a basic course in learning skills for the 21st century to help them develop the necessary abilities. This course comprises 10 topics designed to help learners orientate themselves to the ODL environment so they are well prepared to meet the tasks and challenges ahead.

This course has been specially tailored to enable independent and effective learning in a technology-led environment. Learners get a thorough grounding on what it means to study at OUM, from using myINSPIRE, the university’s learning management system, to registering for courses, managing schedules, gathering information, using learning materials, accessing e-content, completing assignments and preparing for examinations.

Importantly, they are also taught how to apply these skills in other areas of life and given guidance on developing 21st century skills such as critical and creative thinking, collaborative skills and even global citizenship education and environmental awareness.

Incorporating these life skills in a basic course is our conscious effort as an institution of higher learning to inculcate good values in our learners. By emphasising these values from the outset of their learning experience, we are demonstrating our commitment to producing not only graduates who are excellent problem-solvers and decision-makers, but also those who can think up new ideas and products, conduct themselves professionally at the workplace, be technologically savvy, communicate effectively and have a global mindset.

In short, OUM has developed this unique basic course as part of our initiative to help open and distance learners develop essential traits needed to thrive in a competitive world. No one should fear that becoming an open and distance learner will be difficult or challenging. If you want to learn, you can rest assured that OUM is committed to ensuring you will get the best start in your educational journey.

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