Twenty staff from the four Schools and ETP attended the seventh training workshop titled ‘Quality Assurance in Open Distance Learning (ODL)’ at the main campus. This was part of the in-house Certificate Course on ODL organised by the Human Resources Department.
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) Prof Dr Ho Sinn Chye said that quality assurance is process oriented, and requires having a good QA policy, standard operating procedures (SOPs) and a system that meet set standards, and taking measures to avoid mistakes.
He explained that in the development of any new academic development, the internal QA process involves the School Board, Senate and Management Board. The QA process also calls for input from external parties; these are the Academic Peer Group, External Course Assessor, External Examiner, External Programme Assessor, and the Board of Governors.
Meanwhile QA Manager Dr Andy Liew shared on WOU’s QA policy and the programme approval process. The policy – adopted by the Senate in May 2010 and reviewed every three years – contains the quality objectives and expectations of WOU. Staff can access the QA Policy from the Chancellery page of staff portal.
Dr Andy undertook an activity exercise for each participant to explain how the words he listed on the white board – such as courses, assessment, vision, continuous, leadership, programme, feedback, stakeholders, staff, procedures, accreditation, communication, and image – are linked to QA.
He highlighted that the success of a QA policy rests on shared responsibility, continuous improvement, and frequent communication to keep everyone updated. He informed that there are presently 166 SOPS for ensuring quality in the various departments. “We need a QA Policy for customer confidence and organisational credibility, and to ensure all work processes are carried out efficiently,” he added.
The eight focus areas of WOU’s QA Policy are: programme planning and development; course design, development and production; course delivery; examination and assessment; tutor assessment; staff development; programme accreditation; and research, development and community service.
Meanwhile Grace Lau and Prof Phalachandra Bhandigadi from ETP and guest speaker Dato’ Dr Sharom Ahmat, shared on QA in course development and in learner support, including the learning management system, WawasanLearn.
On the role of instructional designers, Grace said they work “as a surrogate learner asking the subject matter expert the kinds of questions a student would ask” regarding the course material.