Wawasan Open University (WOU) held a half-day training workshop on open distance learning (ODL) for 11 staff involved in the development and presentation of ODL courses at the main campus on April 4th.
The session on âAn Overview of ODLâ was the first in a series of seven âODL Core Competency Training Programmeâ workshops which will be conducted from April till September. It was organised by WOUâs Human Resources Department and moderated by Tan Sri Emeritus Prof. Gajaraj Dhanarajan.
The activity-based training workshops are conducted using the seven training modules developed by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL). The other sessions to follow are: Designing ODL Materials; ODL Instructional Design; Use and Integration of Media; Leaner Support in ODL; ODL Tutoring; and Quality Assurance in ODL. Upon full completion of this ODL training course, participants will be issued a certificate from WOU.
Prof Dhanarajan said the training aims to meet the expectations of the Ministry of Higher Education and MQA for higher learning institutions to constantly improve the quality of teaching of their academic staff. This training is open to staff from the Schools and the Educational Technology and Publishing Unit in the university.
He highlighted the growing global concern about the shortfall of professionalism and competency in academic institutions of higher learning in Malaysia and elsewhere. âThe MQA will include this aspect when they carry out accreditation of programmes and institutions. Institutions will be assessed on what they are doing in improving, building up, enhancing and inducting academics as teachers,â he noted.
He added, âWOU wants to train its staff to become good at what they are doing and be professional ODL educators with the capacity to look at the needs of the programme, conceptualise it, design and define curriculums around it, transform it into a teaching experience for learners, and assess itâ.
He said this training programme could form part of a performance-appraisal of staff. âYou need to demonstrate that you understand ODL and its requirement if you wish to continue a successful career in this university and be professional ODL educators.â
In his overview presentation, Prof Dhanarajan looked at the ideological and social drivers for ODL, the organisational and functional arrangements (e.g. how does one produce, package, deliver knowledge and service the knowledge-users) as well as pedagogical considerations. He mentioned the various barriers to educational access such as inadequate prior learning, physical distance, low or dispersed enrolment, limited number of teachers available, and cost.