WOU at forefront of OER movement in Asia

(June 24-27, 2014)

WOU, in spearheading the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement, hosted the 2nd Regional Symposium on OER at its main campus in Penang.

Participants attend the opening of the symposium.

Participants attend the opening of the symposium.

The four-day event themed “Beyond Advocacy, Research and Policy” witnessed a gathering of over 100 international educators, OER advocates, researchers and Open Distance Learning (ODL) practitioners representing 40 institutions and organisations from some 20 countries.

The Symposium was organised by WOU, OER Asia and DISTED College with the support of the Commonwealth of Learning, UNESCO, The Open University of Hong Kong, Universitas Terbuka (Indonesia), the dehub network and Penang Global Tourism.

Prof Ho delivers his welcoming remarks.

Prof Ho delivers his welcoming remarks.

In his opening remarks, Vice Chancellor Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye stated. “Over the past few years WOU has been trying to promote the development and use of OER in Asia in close cooperation with the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU). Our aim is to build a community of practitioners to share experiences, support collaboration and promote scholarship in the field in Asia.”

Mr Imran shares about the efforts undertaken by MDeC.

Mr Imran shares about the efforts undertaken by MDeC.

Mr. Imran Kunalan Abdullah, the Director of Talent Division, Multimedia Development Corporation (MDec), in officiating the opening, spoke on MDeC efforts via the Digital Malaysia initiative to promote On-Demand, Customised Online Education (ODCOE) in Malaysia. Under the National Digital Economy initiative named Digital Malaysia, MDeC is tasked by the government to help build an ecosystem to accelerate ICT usage “which will lead to a vibrant digital economy”.

He continued, “The expansion of Digital Education is anticipated to grow at a phenomenal rate based on a study by an international market research firm, which has projected a 40% growth in the demand for self-paced e-Learning in Malaysia from 2010 to 2015. Research conducted by MDeC with the collaboration of International Data Corporation (IDC) meanwhile showed that Malaysia’s Digital Economy is expected to contribute RM294 billion of Gross National Income in 2020.”

Imran said they aim to enable students and professionals to take up professional certification examinations from various institutions, in line with the Ministry of Education’s New Educational Blueprint which emphasises on greater access to information via the Internet, including the use of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

“Digital Malaysia’s Customised Education & Learning Exchange (CELEX) programme for example, is focused on promoting affordable reading and increasing national readership as well as promoting self-learning and knowledge discovery via the increased utilisation of ICT.” He elaborated that CELEX has over 150,000 users tapped into the platform since August 2013, and has seen the purchase of 313 e-Learning courses.

Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan, Convener of the Symposium, shows his appreciation to Mr Imran.

Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan, Convener of the Symposium, shows his appreciation to Mr Imran.

Another Digital Malaysia programme is the My Mobile University initiative which complements MOOCs, stated Imran. “MyMobileUni provides more than 20 channels, and over 300 content comprising university programmes, professional courses and career development resources. Its Book Channel offers access to content from the National Library of Malaysia and six other local libraries via U-Pustaka.”

Tan Sri Dr Koh officiates the closing.

Tan Sri Dr Koh officiates the closing.

The OER Symposium looked at five sub-themes - Collaboration, Impact, Content, Innovation and Quality - with a keynote address, followed by panel discussions and paper presentations.

The Symposium was officially closed by Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, WOU Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Wawasan Education Foundation, who told the delegation, “We could, jointly and more effectively, develop curriculum resources, including open text books, podcasts, etc, free of intellectual property rights encumbrances, to be freely shared and, if need to, translated into the various national languages and mother tongues.”

He mentioned that WOU has created a web portal, OERAsia, to keep readers informed of OER developments and had also recently launched an OER digital repository.