New leadership for full-time student body

 The annual general meeting of the student body in progress.

The annual general meeting of the student body in progress.

There was a changing of guard as 23-year-old Muhammad Farid Arsyad Foad took over from the very able, competent and industrious Pan Bo Zhong, 25, as the president of the on-campus learning (OCL) Student Council during the annual general meeting (AGM) today.

 Farid takes over the helm of the OCL Student Council from Bo Zhong.

Farid takes over the helm of the OCL Student Council from Bo Zhong.

Farid, like Bo Zhong, is pursuing his full-time Bachelor of Business (Hons) in Management programme at WOU, having enrolled during the May 2017 intake.  The OCL student body is tasked to look after the interests of some 250 full-time students currently enrolled at the University in the six full-time degree programmes offered. The new team has indeed big shoes to fill in view of the tremendous job done by Bo Zhong and his committee.

 Bo Zhong did a superb job during the period of his leadership.

Bo Zhong did a superb job during the period of his leadership.

The new line-up of the OCL Student Council for the 2018/2019 period is as follows:

President:                       Muhammad Farid Arsyad Foad

Vice Presidents:              Michelle Tan Cheng Hooi Hooi
                                       Chew Chin Chai (Calvin)

Secretary:                       Pranaven Pratapan
Assistant Secretary:        Teoh Wooi Joo

Treasurer:                       Lee Pei Fong
Assistant Treasurer:        Loo Wen Nee (Cheryl) 

Public Relations:             Kelly Oo Kai Li and Sujanthan Selvarajah

Committee Members:

Nerroshini Manoraj
Asswni Mariappan
Surendren Chandra Sagaran
Leow Xu-En
Tan Jing Yang

 Farid, flanked by his two Vice Presidents, with his team.

Farid, flanked by his two Vice Presidents, with his team.

In his speech before presenting certificates to the outgoing office-bearers, School of Business and Administration Acting Dean Prakash V Arumugam advised the students to “take ownership of the student-related activities” as they are part of the WOU community and should not feel detached from the University.

 Prakash offers some words of encouragement and advice.

Prakash offers some words of encouragement and advice.

He also reminded the students to keep the council election as democratic as possible in line with the philosophy of the nation that subscribes to a free and fair electoral process and good governance.

He applauded the outgoing Student Council members for doing “an excellent job” in organising several activities for the benefit of the students and to help the less fortunate in society, besides enhancing the image of the University. He therefore cautioned and encouraged the new office-bearers to surpass the performance of their predecessors and be “one-level higher” in undertaking their respective roles.

 Bo Zhong and the outgoing committee members with their Certificates of Appreciation.

Bo Zhong and the outgoing committee members with their Certificates of Appreciation.

Financial aids for WOU students from Penang State Government

WOU’s full-time students can submit applications for 3 forms of financial assistance awarded by the Penang State Government, starting June 1st.

One of them is also awarded for part-time, open distance learning (ODL). Six representatives from the offering agencies participated in an Education Financial Assistance exhibition organised by the University at the main campus today, where they disseminated information and answered students’ queries.

 The full-time students checking out the educational assistance offered.

The full-time students checking out the educational assistance offered.

Firstly, the Penang State Government Education Loan is offered to those pursing a full-time or ODL certificate, diploma, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s or PhD programme.

Students can apply online at http://www.penang.gov.my or http://epp.penang.gov.my, from June 1st to August 30th every year. Applicants must be born in Penang or have at least 5 years’ schooling in Penang, and studying in an MQA-approved programme. The annual quantum for full-time study is RM4,000 for Diploma and RM5,000/RM6,000 for a Bachelor’s degree programme  in Arts/Science.

As for ODL, the annual loan is RM3,000 for Diploma, RM4,000/RM5,000 for a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts/Science, RM6,500 for Master’s and RM8,000 for a PhD.

 Inquiring about the Penang State Education Loan.

Inquiring about the Penang State Education Loan.

Secondly is the Penang Future Foundation (PFF) scholarship programme under the Penang Career Assistance and Talent Centre (Penang CAT). This scholarship is awarded to Malaysians aged 25 or younger to pursue a full-time undergraduate MQA-accredited programme in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Accountancy and Finance studies at local public and private universities.

Prospective students can either be a 'PFF Penang Scholar' or 'PFF Mutiara Scholar', but must be a Penangite or have studied in Penang.

 The PFF Scholarship programme under Penang CAT.

The PFF Scholarship programme under Penang CAT.

For PFF Penang Scholar, applicants must have a CGPA of at least 3.67 in STPM/Foundation/Matriculation/Diploma/UEC or equivalent, or in their undergraduate studies. The household income must not exceed RM15,000 a month. They will receive a living allowance of RM1,000 per month (paid quarterly) and a tuition fee of up to RM100,000 for the entire duration paid directly to the University.

To be a PFF Mutiara Scholar, applicants must have a CGPA between 3.00 to 3.66 and a household income not exceeding RM5,000 per month. They get a living allowance of RM600 per month (paid quarterly) and a tuition fee of up to RM60,000.

 Much interest from students about this generous scholarship given for academic excellence.

Much interest from students about this generous scholarship given for academic excellence.

Students must maintain a CGPA of 3.33 and 3.00 respectively to continue being a PFF Penang Scholar and PFF Mutiara Scholar.

The PFF 2018 online application is open from 1 June 2018 to 21 June 2018. Online application can be made at http://penangfuturefoundation.my/online-application/

Lastly, the one-off student registration aid is for students offered a place to study for a diploma or Bachelor’s degree at 20 public universities, 36 polytechnics and 5 private universities in Malaysia, including WOU (a RM1,000 one-off scholarship).

 

 A one-off study grant to help students embark on their academic journey.

A one-off study grant to help students embark on their academic journey.

Applications can be made online at http://ibita.penang.gov.my from 1 June to 30 June and from 1 September to 30 September every year. Applicants must have a household income (basic plus allowance) not exceeding RM8,000 and one parent/guardian must be a  registered voter in Penang.

Universities must prepare learners to deal with emerging technologies

The emerging technological trends will have great implications for tertiary education and on the future of jobs, said Commonwealth of Learning (COL) president Prof Asha Kanwar.

She was delivering a public lecture on “Learning in the Era of Digital Transformation” at the main campus today attended by over 150 people from various institutions of higher learning.

 Registration of attendance at the talk.

Registration of attendance at the talk.

She said that the fourth revolution is marked by artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics as well as the growth of open educational resources (OERs), massive open online courses (MOOCs), and micro-credentials. She mentioned the impact of four innovations, namely MOOCs, blockchain, micro-credentials and OERs, on tertiary education.

“MOOCs can disrupt the traditional classroom lecture while blockchain will allow employers to verify the credentials of students and so challenge the authority of the accreditation bodies.  Micro-credentials call into question the relevance of full degrees, and OERs are disrupting business models built on intellectual property rights.”

 Former WOU Vice Chancellors Emeritus Prof Dato' Dr Wong Tat Meng (left, back to camera) and Dato' Dr Ho Sinn Chye (right) chat with the speaker.

Former WOU Vice Chancellors Emeritus Prof Dato' Dr Wong Tat Meng (left, back to camera) and Dato' Dr Ho Sinn Chye (right) chat with the speaker.

She stated that big data and cloud computing are critical for artificial intelligence. She cited a few examples of AI-powered systems in education like the virtual teaching assistant or chatbot that offers personalised assistance to learners by using text and the robots with human-like speech that can teach. The role of teachers will change from a provider of knowledge to an overseer who will monitor the progress of learners, lead non-academic activities and provide pastoral support, she added.

She shared that Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technologies can improve learner experience through real-world environment and simulated experience, but that these technologies are presently with the commercial systems due to the very high cost.

 Prof Kanwar introduces the topic of her lecture.

Prof Kanwar introduces the topic of her lecture.

She said that AI will drastically transform work and the future of jobs with an Oxford University study reporting that 47% of today’s jobs would be automated in the next 20 years.  “Middle level jobs are most likely to disappear while we may see a marginal increase in highly skilled jobs.  All the cognitive type of repetitive jobs will be better done by robots and likely disappear, and so human beings need skills in areas where only they can contribute.”

She called for changes in the way education is delivered to prepare learners to these eventualities. “Learners will have to skill and re-skill themselves, moving back and forth from academia and employment. Micro-qualifications and micro-credentials will be as important as degrees because they don’t need to do the degree again; they just need a micro-credential for the new skills which they have learnt. The faculty also will have to become lifelong learners to keep pace with these changes.”

 The speaker highlights the impact of artificial intelligence on work and the future of jobs.

The speaker highlights the impact of artificial intelligence on work and the future of jobs.

She mentioned three essential literacies to equip learners for the future: human literacy, data literacy and technological literacy. Human literacy is to prepare students to perform jobs that only humans can do, make ethical choices and for social engagement through effective communication, while data literacy is to help learners find meaning in the flood of information. “Technological literacy is essential to understand machines and how we, as educators, can use them.”

She said in the era of digital transformation, “learning how to learn” will be the biggest skill to provide learners as nations must continually skill and re-skill the workforce. She called for universities to emphasise on employability by focusing on hard and soft skills and to develop a curriculum that addresses market needs and future requirements.

 Part of the crowd at the lecture.

Part of the crowd at the lecture.

She concluded by reminding of the 3 Es, Empathy, Equity and Ethics. “What human beings can bring to the table is Empathy. How can we teach this to our learners?” She mentioned equity in the distribution of emerging technologies, and for ethics, she inquired, “Will these technologies be like the Monster Frankenstein or will they bring peace and harmony in the world.”

During Q&A, she reiterated that the teacher is “not dead” with AI but that the teacher’s role will change. On employability, she urged universities to keep pace with the competencies needed by industry and train learners to become problem solvers, creative thinkers and people who can work with others, and have passion and perseverance.

 Prof Kanwar responding to questions during the Q&A moderated by Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas (left).

Prof Kanwar responding to questions during the Q&A moderated by Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas (left).

She agreed that education has become so commercialised that it has lost the values of empathy and sympathy, stressing that “values are absolutely fundamental to education” and students must be taught the importance of character.

 Senior WOU management, including School of Business & Administration Acting Dean Prakash V Arumugam (2nd from right), emcee for the lecture, in conversation with Prof Kanwar.

Senior WOU management, including School of Business & Administration Acting Dean Prakash V Arumugam (2nd from right), emcee for the lecture, in conversation with Prof Kanwar.

Keeping CeMBA/CeMPA relevant with changing times

The updating of the Commonwealth Executive Master of Business Administration or Master of Public Administration (CeMBA/CeMPA) programme to meet contemporary needs, the revision and adding of courses, and introducing more specialisation streams were among the decisions taken at the recent Commonwealth of Learning (COL)-led meetings held at WOU.

 Prof Kanwar chairs the Academic Board meeting.

Prof Kanwar chairs the Academic Board meeting.

WOU was privileged to host the 29th Academic Board (AB) and 13th Executive Governing Board (ECG) meetings for the CeMBA/CeMPA programme respectively on May 7th and 8th, attended by the deans/heads of departments and the Vice Chancellors from the 10 partner institutions offering the programme. The meetings were chaired by COL President Prof Asha Kanwar, who was accompanied by Prof Romeela Mohee, COL Education Specialist for Higher Education.

The 10 partner institutions offering CeMBA/CeMPA are WOU, Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU, Pakistan), Bangladesh Open University (BOU), Botswana Open University; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST, Ghana), Open University of Mauritius (OUM), National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL), University College of the Caribbean (UCC, Jamaica) and University of Guyana (UG).

 Acting WOU Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas (centre) with the AB members and the COL delegates.

Acting WOU Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas (centre) with the AB members and the COL delegates.

Prof Kanwar said that today’s world of business has changed immensely due to elements like ethics, sustainability and technology. “Are we able to give some ideas to students who will be dealing with the future of business on how to handle the kinds of changes which are happening so quickly?”

She reflected that the MPA stream had hardly any takers since the beginning in 2002, but noted that UCC and UG have lately revived interest in this public administration steam. She informed that some 34,000 people have enrolled in the CeMBA/MPA programme of the partner institutions over the years, with almost 18,000 or some 50% having graduated to date.

 Prof Kanwar highlights the gender incentives to draw more women into the programme.

Prof Kanwar highlights the gender incentives to draw more women into the programme.

She also mentioned that COL has developed gender guidelines or incentives after consultations with partners in order to draw more women into the programme, adding that this will be re-looked to make it more inclusive without diluting the programme quality.

On the topic of programme specialisation, she stated that three streams have been proposed in HR, Finance and Marketing. “There is a general consensus that specialisation is the way to go to offer more options and to upgrade the programme.”

 Prof Zoraini presents a brief overview of WOU.

Prof Zoraini presents a brief overview of WOU.

Prof Kanwar also shared about the decision to review 2 courses, Research Methods and Quantitative Techniques, and once these courses are ready they will be reviewed by the Academic Board and authorised to offer by the EGB. “We want any new courses which we develop to be based on OER to save time and to harvest the best quality content which is available free on the Internet.”

Prof Mohee highlighted that a 6-credit course on Sustainable Development has been developed by OUM (Mauritius) and is now available as an OER course to all CeMBA/MPA partner institutions to add as an elective from this academic year.

 Prof Mohee (centre) talks about the new course on Sustainable Development.

Prof Mohee (centre) talks about the new course on Sustainable Development.

Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas and School of Business & Administration Acting Dean Prakash V Arumugam represented WOU at the AB and EGB meetings.

 Prof Kanwar (centre) and Prof Mohee (2nd from left) with members of the Executive Governing Board.

Prof Kanwar (centre) and Prof Mohee (2nd from left) with members of the Executive Governing Board.

Be Engaged, students advised

Students should grab the opportunities offered at WOU to learn not only through the classes and lecturers but also from peers, through interactions on campus and the various extra-curricular activities available to them.

WOU Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas was speaking during the morning orientation session for the new on-campus learning (OCL) full-time students from the May 2018 intake, held at the main campus today.

 Prof Zoraini addressing the new students from the May intake.

Prof Zoraini addressing the new students from the May intake.

She said WOU’s small classes will allow the students to forge a close-knit relationship and this will contribute to their success as students.  “Not only is the University fees affordable, students are getting good quality education at WOU.  Our team of academicians come from a broad background and with diverse experiences.  Students should be able to benefit through their teachings and interactions. Take the opportunity to learn from them and ask questions, not just on academic content but on life.”

She also spoke about WOU’s student engagement concept. “We give you opportunities to learn, be it formal through lectures and classroom assignments, or informal when you participate in extra-curricular activities. You will be able to pick up knowledge and living skills.”

 Motivating the new students to be actively engaged with the University.

Motivating the new students to be actively engaged with the University.

Prof Zoraini continued, “Student engagement is when you are actively engaged. You come to class, you do your homework on time and submit assignments on time. Be engaged with the lecturers, the activities and in whatever you do, including going to the library, making friends. Be engaged with the University and the learning process.”

She encouraged the students to be the best student they can be, and reiterated, “Learn from the subject matter and from the experiences of your lecturers. They are here to help you.” She also advised them to try out kayaking and to participate in the events of the OCL student body to sharpen their soft skills. 

 Muhammad Danial leads in reciting the students' pledge.

Muhammad Danial leads in reciting the students' pledge.

Freshman Muhammad Danial Irwan Zuhaimi, 22, who is newly enrolled in the Bachelor of Business (Hons) in Management programme, then led in the oath-taking ceremony.

Penang Regional Centre (PGRC) director Ching Huey Ling and OCL programme coordinator Dr Chuah Poh Lean took to the podium to respectively introduce the PGRC team and the academic advisors.

 Ching (right) introduces her team from the Penang Regional Centre.

Ching (right) introduces her team from the Penang Regional Centre.

Prof Zoraini also presented certificates to 19 OCL students receiving the Dean’s List award for their academic excellence in the September 2017 semester.

 Eight of the Dean's List recipients with their certificates.

Eight of the Dean's List recipients with their certificates.

Among those present were Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Outreach) Prof David Ngo Chek Ling, Registrar Dr Andy Liew Teik Kooi, School of Humanities & Social Sciences Dean Assoc Prof Dr S Nagarajan and School of Business & Administration Acting Dean Prakash V Arumugam.

Lure of the majestic campus and affordable fee

The May 2018 intake for on-campus learning (OCL) drew students to the full-time business degree programmes offered at WOU. Here 3 students share what led to them to the University during the orientation held at the main campus today.

 The majestic main campus offers a good learning environment for the full-time students.

The majestic main campus offers a good learning environment for the full-time students.

*Tang Khai Wen, 20, from Sungai Ara, enrolled in Bachelor of Business (Hons) in Logistics and Supply Chain Management (BBLC). He holds a Diploma in Business from INTI International College, Penang.

“My neighbour, Ong Yang Shan Xu, recommended me to study here. He is a CeMBA graduate from WOU. He told me that WOU is very good and has very nice facilities, library and view that combine to give a relaxed atmosphere for studying.

“I did my own survey before I registered. I also talked to my parents, who were at first afraid of the quality of the certificate. After Ong shared how his employer at Dell recognised WOU’s MBA degree when recruiting him, my parents were fine with a WOU degree.”

int.oclmay2018pix1.jpg

Tan’s father is a self-employed technician and his mother a full-time homemaker. He has a younger brother still in school.

“I like this programme as I am interested in business. I want to become self-employed like my dad. I plan to get some work experience first before I start my own business, preferably as a used car dealer, selling vehicles online and also from a physical facility. I hope to learn about logistics at WOU as a lot of companies now need people with logistics skills.”

 

*Logitha Lakshmi Thiagarajan, 22, from Sri York, enrolled in the Bachelor of Business (Hons) in Sales and Marketing (BBSM) programme.  She holds a Diploma in Marketing from Politeknik Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, Kedah.

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“While I was studying at Convent Light Street, I often pass by as my house is nearby. I was impressed as the campus looks nice, with a wonderful sea view. When I was looking to do a degree, I searched online to check on the programmes offered at WOU. When I found out about BBSM, I came here to consult and get more information, especially on the courses, and being satisfied, I decided to enrol.

“My decision was first of all based on the programme since I had done my diploma in marketing and could get credit transfer. Next, the fees are quite affordable. I discussed with my parents, and they left the choice up to me. I want to be a lecturer one day. So my plan is to later take up a Master’s in the same field.”

Her father is a businessman dealing in scraps and metals and her mother is a homemaker. She has one younger brother studying for his diploma in mechatronics.  

 

*Muhammad Danial Irwan Zuhaimi, 22, from Tanjung Bungah, is embarking on his Bachelor of Business (Hons) in Management (BBMG) programme. He obtained his Diploma in Business Administration from KDU Penang University College.

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“I was a walk-in. I had seen the banners and became interested. After seeing the banners, I actually made some research on the Internet. Then I decided to come here. I was attracted to the cost and the very friendly staff here. The price is not that bad for such a good looking university. I signed on immediately. I also walked around and looked at the place. I like it here.

“I am taking BBMG for a better career.  I am interested in working in management, particularly high-level management. I know I have to work hard for it. Therefore at WOU, I hope to learn how to manage things properly, do things in an orderly fashion.”

His father is a banker in Alor Setar, working at management level, and his mother a full-time homemaker.  He is the second of three siblings, with his elder brother employed in audit management at a private college while his younger sister is studying Form Five.

Knowledge sharing with UNESCO on APEL

WOU hosted a 21-member delegation, comprising senior officials of various quality agencies, higher education authorities and community colleges/institutes from 12 countries in the Pacific islands, at the main campus today.

 The delegation make a visit to WOU to learn about APEL.

The delegation make a visit to WOU to learn about APEL.

Accompanying the delegation on their study tour to WOU were Gail Townsend, Education Programme Specialist of UNESCO Cluster Office for the Pacific States, Apia, Samoa, and Jihye Hwang, Programme Specialist of UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, Bangkok. The focus of the visit was to learn about the implementation of Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) in Malaysia.

Earlier from April 19th to 24th, they had received briefings at the Malaysia Qualifications Agency (MQA), Cyberjaya on TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training), quality assurance, Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF), Code of Practice for Programme Accreditation (COPPA), and the Code of Practice for TVET Programme Accreditation, and had visited a few educational institutions that conduct TVET.

 Prof Zoraini Wati Abas presents an overview of the University.

Prof Zoraini Wati Abas presents an overview of the University.

At WOU, following an overview on WOU by Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas, they had a half-day session on APEL with Registrar cum Director of Quality Assurance, Dr Andy Liew Teik Kooi.  He informed that WOU had been part of the team that developed the two APEL instruments for admission [APEL (A)] and credit transfer [APEL (C)]. In fact, WOU was the chair of the panel that develops the APEL(C) instruments.

His talk focused on five key areas, namely the emergence of APEL; types and objectives of APEL; APEL policies; APEL assessment tools; and the implementation of APEL where he shared on WOU’s experiences and challenges. He also elaborated how WOU has worked closely with MQA since WOU is one of the national APEL assessment centres appointed by MQA.

 Dr Andy Liew talks in detail about the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) in Malaysia.

Dr Andy Liew talks in detail about the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) in Malaysia.

He stated that APEL (A) for admission and APEL (C) for credit transfer have already been successfully implemented in Malaysia, while APEL (Q) that focuses on awarding academic qualifications without subjecting students to the entire duration of studies has yet to commence.

Dr Liew said that APEL (A) certification is centrally controlled by MQA while the processing of credit transfers under APEL (C) is managed at the institutional levels.

 Lilian Kek (seated, foreground) highlights the Malaysian Qualifications Agency's role with regards to APEL.

Lilian Kek (seated, foreground) highlights the Malaysian Qualifications Agency's role with regards to APEL.

During Q&A, MQA Senior Director of Accreditation, Lilian Kek Siew Yick, who was present, responded that institutions can embed traditional and cultural learning elements as part of their APEL assessment tools.

UNESCO’s Townsend, in thanking WOU, said, “The take away is that we must be focused on what’s best for the learner. In the Pacific, we want to move forward and engage our learners.”

Separately in an interview, she said, “APEL is of importance to the Pacific at the moment. But don’t make the system become so bureaucratic that it overtakes the need of the learner.”

 Prof Zoraini presents a memento to Gail Townsend (left) from UNESCO.

Prof Zoraini presents a memento to Gail Townsend (left) from UNESCO.

She declared that she will be discussing with the team in Bangkok in a few days’ time to work out what UNESCO can do next, going forward, for the participants. “We will do a complete evaluation to find out how confident the participants feel to take things forward themselves, and then where would they like further support. So it will be those areas of further support that we will try to arrange to put into place and then we will monitor. It’s about what UNESCO can contribute based on what countries need and our strengths.”

 The delegation pose with a few senior management staff of the University.

The delegation pose with a few senior management staff of the University.

The delegation also visited Universiti Sains Malaysia on April 26th before returning home.

Learning English through Educational Technology

[23-27 April 2018]

WOU, in its effort to share knowledge of student learning with like-minded institutions, recently organised training for four doctoral programme students from Silpakorn University, a national university in Thailand.

The Thai PhD students underwent a workshop at the WOU main campus in Penang from 23 to 27 April, 2018. The objective of the workshop was to offer opportunities and familiarise the students with communicating in the English Language within the context of Educational Technology.

 (From Left): Sathaporn, sutida, suchittra and nattawan.

(From Left): Sathaporn, sutida, suchittra and nattawan.

The four participants were Mr Sathaporn Janu, Ms Sutida Preechanonth and Ms Suchittra Chanloy, who all work at Muban Chombueng Rajabhat University (MCRU), and Ms Nattawan Chalermsuk attached to Burapha University. They are in the second year of their 5-year PhD programme at Silpakorn.

The workshop was organised by WOU’s Centre for Professional Development and Continuing Education (PACE) at the request of Silpakorn University. It was coordinated by Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic & Educational Technology), Prof Zoraini Wati Abas, who is also the Acting Vice Chancellor.

Prof Zoraini kicked off the first day of training with her presentation on Student Engagement followed by Educational Technology & Publishing (ETP) Director Grace Lau who elaborated on the WOU Care Initiative that can improve student engagement.

 Prof Zoraini welcomes the PhD students from Thailand.

Prof Zoraini welcomes the PhD students from Thailand.

In her briefing, Prof Zoraini said that WOU is implementing measures to increase enrolment through student engagement. She mentioned her study which indicated that students fare better in studies and get better results with student engagement. “With good student engagement, there is student satisfaction, and in turn, student success is higher. Student engagement will reduce the percentage of student dropout.”

She added that student engagement is linked to undergraduate academic achievement, student contribution, student motivation and institutional success. She shared that WOU is focusing on WOU Care, Learning Assistant, Learning Environment, Tutor Management, Learning Support and Learning Design to improve Student Engagement for student success.

 Grace lau reads some of the student queries received through moodle mobile app.

Grace lau reads some of the student queries received through moodle mobile app.

Meanwhile Grace Lau spoke on ‘The WOU Care Initiative’ which was started in January 2018, and will end on May 19th, to foster a closer relationship between students and the University. “WOU Care is an online communication initiative that sends messages like motivation, tips and reminders to students via Moodle Mobile App 2-3 times a week during their semester at WOU,” she highlighted.

The other WOU facilitators of the workshop were Registrar cum QA Director Dr Andy Liew Teik Kooi; School of Education, Languages and Communications (SELC) Lecturer Dr Por Fei Ping; Head of Student Engagement Dr Gurdip Kaur; and Instructional Designer Ch’ng Lay Kee.

 The students with their certificates as they pose with prof zoraini and grace lau.

The students with their certificates as they pose with prof zoraini and grace lau.

Dr Liew elaborated on Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) while Dr Por and Dr Gurdip presented reports of their PhD thesis in the field of learning.  Ch’ng shared her research findings and spoke on “Mobile devices: Toys or learning tools for 21st century teenagers?”

At the end of the training, Prof Zoraini presented certificates of attendance to the four PhD students. The students will be attending 10 days of training in Japan starting May 5th as part of their PhD journey.

Staff bonding at Beach Party

The weather was kind as the inaugural Beach Party kicked off at the main campus seafront today with some 110 staff turning up for the promise of fun, good food and the opportunity to connect with colleagues.

 Registration and dividing into the different groups.

Registration and dividing into the different groups.

After registration, the staff were divided into four groups of 15 members each. The first activity was the zumba dance routine led by WOU’s very own in-house talent, Robin Cheah Kai Yang, the Penang Regional Centre marketing and admissions officer. The zumba exercise managed to get the staff to loosen up and let their hair down somewhat.

 Robin Cheah (foreground, right) leads staff in a few simple zumba dance moves.

Robin Cheah (foreground, right) leads staff in a few simple zumba dance moves.

Then was time for the beach telematch that required filling a bottle with water. The race saw the group members taking turns to run to a bucket of water with a sponge, dip it into the bucket, and then run back to squeeze out water into the bottle. Colleagues cheered their group members and worked together to accomplish the task at hand.

 Working as a team to fill the bottle with water.

Working as a team to fill the bottle with water.

After all the running around, the staff were able to cool off and replenish their exhausted bodies with cold drinks, coconut jelly, pasta, egg sandwiches, chicken skewers, fruits and other foods.

The Beach Party was put together by an organising committee comprising members from the respective academic/academic support and operations units and led by the HR Department.

 Thumbs-up to the team that came in first.

Thumbs-up to the team that came in first.

In line with 2018 being declared as the ‘Year of Staff Engagement’ by Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas in March, this Beach Party is supposed to be the first of three planned for the year to promote interaction and foster better working relationships at WOU.

Among those present at the Beach Party were Prof Zoraini, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Outreach) Prof David Ngo Chek Ling, along with the Deans, Prof Santhiram Raman, Assoc Prof Dr S Nagarajan and Assoc Prof Dr Wendy Bong Chin Wei.

 (From left) Prof Zoraini and Prof Santhiram help themselves to some food.

(From left) Prof Zoraini and Prof Santhiram help themselves to some food.

WOU shares administrative best practices with OUSL

WOU conducted a three-day training workshop on regional centre operations for 15 assistant directors from the regional centres and study centres of The Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) from 9-11 April 2018.

 Prof Phalachandra addressing the participants.

Prof Phalachandra addressing the participants.

The training programme was coordinated by Prof Phalachandra Bhandigadi from the School of Education, Languages and Communications.

The objective of the workshop was to expose participants to WOU’s best practices in student recruitment, admissions, assessment and support systems as well as in the other operations like HR recruitment, property management, library services, budget planning, development and delivery of programmes, and learning facilities.

 Senior Assistant Registrar Gomathi Chandrasekaran elaborates on student admissions.

Senior Assistant Registrar Gomathi Chandrasekaran elaborates on student admissions.

OUSL is the only open university in Sri Lanka and has 9 regional centres and 18 study centres spread across 9 provinces. It boasts a student enrolment of 5,000 every year. OUSL offers 63 programmes with ongoing recruitment all year round for its different groups of programmes.

At the closing session, Prof Phalachandra mentioned that there are future plans for WOU to collaborate on training and research with OUSL. He also recalled that WOU had conducted a 10-day training workshop for the academic staff of OUSL in November 2014.

 Registrar Dr Andy Liew Teik Kooi (standing, left) highlights on WOU's constitution and policies.

Registrar Dr Andy Liew Teik Kooi (standing, left) highlights on WOU's constitution and policies.

In his sharing on behalf of the participants, Dr Kithsiri Hector Jayawardana, Acting Director of OUSL’s Regional Educational Services, lauded the “very useful” training.  He added, “WOU has new and fast techniques and methodologies. We must also convert to new tools and technologies to improve our system.” He said OUSL is targeting to increase its total enrolment from the current 45,000 to 50,000 registered students by 2020.

He also remarked that OUSL will require WOU support for the training of other groups of regional centres’ staff in the future. “We still follow a lot of manual techniques and have only now introduced some online methods.” 

 Prof Zoraini Wati Abas presents certificate of attendance to a participant.

Prof Zoraini Wati Abas presents certificate of attendance to a participant.

Acting WOU Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas highlighted that both universities can learn from each other through “sharing of knowledge and skills”. She also proposed that OUSL can participate as a member of the editorial board for a planned Asian Journal on Open Distance Learning (ODL) to be published in collaboration with other open universities, ideally twice a year, and also join the OER Symposium at WOU next year.

She later presented certificates to the participants for completion of the 3-day training at WOU.

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OUSL, established in 1980, has its main campus located in Colombo with about 25,000 students while the various centres have 1,000 to 6,000 students.

 

Views from two participants of OUSL:

Dr K H Jayawardana, Acting Director of Regional Educational Services, OUSL

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“We register and provide education and services to the local students in our area. Our task should be expanded so that we need not bring everything to the central campus in Colombo.

Through this workshop, we have learned various techniques and easy methods to cater to the needs of students and offer them better service. The online system seems to be the most effective way to conduct registration and even for teaching. 

We had introduced online registration, about 2 years back, and also for re-registration. But the system belongs to the vendor and we have to approach the vendor even for small changes. Last year there were lots of problems but this has now been reduced. We are now requesting and asking management to have a better IT system so that we can handle even higher registration numbers.

We definitely have to use more online and IT facilities to reduce the workload, especially since the regional staff are kept busy throughout the year. We will inform the management to perhaps adopt the WOU system and have a particular period for intakes and student registration.

We have learnt a lot from this workshop and we hope to inform our authorities to modify the current system to enable us to provide optimum service and support to our students.”

 

Ms Hiranthi Galahitiyawa, Assistant Director, Badulla Regional Centre, OUSL.

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“We find that WOU uses computerised systems more than us; this is useful and makes work easier, such as e-HR and the PDF course materials. WOU also has a very good system for final assessments. With e-HR and e-Finance, the approval process is much faster without unnecessary delay.

We have introduced MyOUSL for enrolment and have a learning portal, but this is not that frequently used by our students due to limited IT facilities in some sectors in Sri Lanka.

We now undertake HR and finance work manually, while printed course materials and printed books are delivered from the central campus to all the centres.  We have e-books only for some courses.

Following the training, what we can start to apply at OUSL is e-HR. We then need not go to the central campus and do all the documentation. It will be quite easy. I will also recommend to our management to use e-Finance because we now have to fill the forms and send to the central campus by mail, and so it takes time to process.  

Our academic calendar is full as we run the programmes throughout the year.  I don’t think there are any plans to change this because with the facilities available, we may not be able to do all the registration at one time period. Overall the workshop was important for us as the topics discussed were all related to our duties.”