Visit of Athabasca Open University to WOU

(18-19 March 2007)

Three key members of the Athabasca Open University (AU), Canade, paid a visit to Wawasan Open University (WOU) to look into developing research and academic collaborations.

The AU group consisted of its President Dr Frits Pannekoek, Associate Vice President in Research Dr Rory McGeal, and School of Business Prof Dr Fathi Elloumi.

(from left): McGreal, Elloumi and Pannekoek in discussion with WOU's leaders.

(from left): McGreal, Elloumi and Pannekoek in discussion with WOU's leaders.

The visit was part of AU’s operation of reviewing its strategic external relationships, which included visits to several notable open universities in the Asia Pacific. It afforded a platform for WOU and AU to discuss possible collaborations in the near future.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof Wong (right) explains the historical background of WOU's main campus.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof Wong (right) explains the historical background of WOU's main campus.

During their two-day stay in Penang, the group was given a site tour of WOU’s main campus (currently under construction) at the Yeap Chor Ee Homestead mansion along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, by WOU Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof Wong Tat Meng.

Having a closer look at the architecture of the Homestead.

Having a closer look at the architecture of the Homestead.

Dr Pannekoek, who has a deep interest in the restoration works of heritage buildings, wasimpressed with the restoration taking place at the Homestead.

Prof Wong (right) shows a balcony under construction which overlooks the sea and is dwarfed by the surrounding high-rise buildings.

Prof Wong (right) shows a balcony under construction which overlooks the sea and is dwarfed by the surrounding high-rise buildings.

On the second day, the AU team met up formally with WOU’s Vice Chancellor and CEO, Dato’ Emeritus Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan, Prof Wong, and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Operations), Dr Seah Soo Aun. It was then followed by a discussion with the university deans and senior academicians.

WOU's academicians and the AU group exchange ideas.

WOU's academicians and the AU group exchange ideas.

Both parties exchanged ideas on the models of delivery in an open distance learning environment and the technology used. They also talked on the possibility of bringing in course materials developed by AU and having collaborations in the delivery of postgraduate programmes and conducting of joint research projects.

AU is Canada’s largest University specialising in online and distance learning. It is a publicly-funded institution based in Alberta, with its main centre situated in Athabasca, 150km north of Edmonton. AU has served more than 260,000 students since it was created by the Alberta government in 1970.