Feature: Mobile learning for learners on the move

By Prof Zoraini Wati Abas

Can you imagine using your mobile phone or any other mobile device to study? According to a survey, about 83% of OUM learners could.

In January, the University began providing mobile learning materials for its learners. The first set of materials, available now, is for OUMH 1103 Learning Skills for Open and Distance Learners. One could view, read or listen to the podcasts at http://mlearn.oum.edu.my/.

OUM's mobile learning initiative has three objectives:

  • To enhance the current blended learning mode;
  • To increase the flexibility of learning; and
  • To support learning at any time and at any place through the use of mobile devices such as mobile phones, MP3 and MP4 players.

Mobile learning may be the next wave after e-learning. Taking into account that OUM learners might benefit from it, a mobile learning research and development group was formed last August. It is headed by the writer who has wide experience in conceptualising and developing various e-learning initiatives. The group first met on 19 August 2008 and to date, has 17 members from all faculties.

Before the pilot launch, a survey was conducted to find out whether OUM learners were ready for mobile learning. A total of 2,837 learners in 31 learning centres in both the undergraduate and graduate programmes responded to a questionnaire distributed in October 2008.

The survey produced encouraging findings. It found that 98.9% of the learners had a mobile phone. Almost half of the respondents were ready to learn through a mobile device within six months of the survey. Another 15.7% said they would be ready within the next 7 to 12 months. And about 5.9% said they would be ready within 13 to 24 months. Interestingly, 65.95% of the learners were even willing to buy a mobile device priced between RM250 and RM1500 so that they could engage in m-learning.

The respondents comprised about 60% females and about 40% males. Of the total number, almost 70% were from Peninsular Malaysia while the rest were from Sabah and Sarawak.

Thus far, the mobile learning research and development group has identified 10 courses for which mobile learning content are to be produced by the end of this year. For more details on the project, please visit http://mlearn.oum. edu.my/.

Prof Zoraini Wati Abas is the Head of the Mobile Learning Research and Development Team. She is also the director of OUM's Institute of Quality, Research and Innovation.

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To what extent should tutors be competent in IT?

Highly competent in myLMS components such as the forum. Moderately competent in other IT applications such as MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and so on.
Highly competent in both myLMS components and IT applications such as MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
More competent than the average OUM learner such as being able to create blogs and e-content for the students.
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