(2-6 December 2013)
Wawasan Open University (WOU) received two prestigious awards during the 7th Pan-Commonwealth Forum (PCF) on Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in Abuja, Nigeria.
Over 600 ODL experts and practitioners from 55 countries within and outside the Commonwealth participated in this five-day forum. These awards are part of the COL 2011-2013 Excellence in Distance Education Awards (EDEA) presented as recognition of achievement for institutions and individuals in the Commonwealth countries.
The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) Award of Excellence for Institutional Achievement honours significant institutional achievements in the innovative and effective application of learning technologies and ODL methodologies to reach students who might otherwise not have participated in the learning or training experience.
According to COL President Prof Asha Kanwar, “WOU was chosen due to its long-term and ongoing success of making learning opportunities more accessible to students who otherwise might have completely missed out on the experience. The University was evaluated for its growth and success arising from a culture of openness and accountability, high commitment to academic excellence, integration of QA in all aspects of university operations, effective use of appropriate technology, and responsive learner support systems.”
WOU also received the Award of Excellence for Distance Education Materials instituted to recognise the achievements of those who have designed and developed exemplary study materials. WOU is the only winner in Category B for excellence in the creation, use and re-use of open educational resources (OER).
WOU won this highly sought-after award as its ‘ICT in Education’ course within the Master of Education programme of the School of Education, Languages and Communications was created entirely from existing OER and there was strong attention given to principles of instructional design in the development of the course. Throughout the course there was a clear and consistent focus on learner support and the media used was well integrated, while the use of instructional design principles is evident in the careful articulation of learning outcomes and approaches to study and the integration of the media.
Assistant Vice Chancellor (Academic Support) Prof Mohandas Menon represented WOU at the award ceremony. “These awards acknowledge the achievement of WOU in effectively using ODL methodologies for reaching out to our students as well as recognise the innovative and unique OER integration model being adopted by the University,” he said.
The 7th PCF in Abuja also paid tribute to former WOU Vice Chancellor Emeritus Prof Dato’ Dr Wong Tat Meng by making him an Honorary Fellow of the COL, a designation that recognises outstanding individual contributions to ODL in areas such as leadership, service, published works, international or national presence, and mentorship. It is normally limited to citizens of Commonwealth countries and such designations are for life.
The COL awards of excellence enhance the recognition of WOU’s innovative and effective technologies in the global arena and reaffirm the quality of the University’s ODL programmes.