WOU has entered into a formal collaboration with St Nicholas Home (SNH) Penang to help the blind and visually-impaired (BVI) school students throughout Malaysia to have access to learning resources and to pursue higher academic qualifications.
In line with its corporate social responsibility (CSR), the University inked a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with the Home during a simple ceremony held at the main campus today. The document was signed by WOU Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas and St Nicholas Home Chairman Rt Rev Dato’ Dr Charles Samuel with witnesses, WOU’s Educational Technology & Publishing (ETP) Director Grace Lau and the Home’s Executive Director, Daniel Soon Aik Bin.
WOU’s Board of Governors Chairman Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon was the special guest on hand to witness the proceedings. Others present included Dato’ Dr Sharom Ahmat and fellow members of the Board of Directors as well as instructors from the Home and WOU management staff.
The MoA seeks to formalise the development and deployment of a Moodle-based learning management system (LMS) for the Home by the University. Under the agreement, WOU will provide LMS hosting services and technology support at minimal fees. With the technology support, the Home will be able to use the LMS effectively and efficiently to enhance the students’ learning.
In her speech, Prof Zoraini elaborated, “This will enable the teachers of the Home to share their learning resources with the visually-impaired primary and secondary school students throughout Malaysia. This will also give an opportunity for the visually-impaired learners to enhance their knowledge and skills in attaining higher academic qualifications.”
She stated that the LMS backbone uses an open source platform called Moodle that assists learners to “participate in online threaded discussions with their peers, tutors and course coordinators. The LMS also facilitates administration of courses, documentation, as well as tracking and reporting of learner behaviours.”
Meanwhile Rt Rev Charles recorded his appreciation in collaborating with WOU and acquiring its support to make educational resources available for the blind and visually impaired people of Malaysia that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. “For nearly 100 years, it has been the mission of St Nicholas Home to provide education, training and employment opportunities to the visually impaired people so that they may be empowered to fully participate and contribute to society,” he stressed.
He continued, “Web accessible e-learning allows blind and visually-impaired students efficient and timely access to educational materials that would help them cope with their studies. Web accessible e-learning would be available to everyone no matter their degree of disability as long as they have Internet connection and computer equipped with the necessary accessibility tools.”
“With WOU coming on board as our project technical partner, we are confident that we would be able to achieve the goals we have set to make accessible and equitable education a reality for the blind and visually impaired students so that they can compete on a level playing field with their sighted peers, “ Rt Rev Charles declared.