Feature: What Learners Want

By Richard Ng

Since 2001, OUM has enrolled over 85,000 students to date, of whom over 95 percent are working adults. In line with its vision to be the leading provider of flexible learning, OUM is continuously making efforts to produce quality graduates. Among others, it developed a state-of-the-art Learning Management System (LMS), which is rated as one of the best online learning support tools available for learners. OUM also set up the Centre of Instructional Design and Technology to produce quality learning materials.

The definition of "quality graduate" differs among the different stakeholders - OUM, employers and the learners themselves. According to a random survey, most OUM learners believed tutors played a very significant role in helping them to transform into quality graduates. The quality of lesson delivery was just as important, if not more, than the modules and LMS.

So, what do our learners expect from our tutors? They expect them to always be one step ahead of the learners in terms of knowledge in the subject matter. And this knowledge needs to be imparted to the learners in a simple way, taking into consideration their diverse learning styles.

Learners also want tutors who could capture their attention and attract their participation in tutorials. In addition, tutors need to be considerate towards learners, as many of them are working adults who need to adjust to the reality of going back to school after a hiatus of many years.

Learners also want tutors to respond to their questions and comments in the online forum. They need special attention in difficult subjects such as Maths, Science, Accounting and Engineering. They would like tutors to help them by regularly assessing their progress as well as providing feedback and reinforcement. They do not want to feel intimidated by their tutors. More specifically, they do not want to feel afraid to ask questions or voice opinion whether in tutorials or in online discussions. Therefore, they want their tutors to be more patient, understanding and supportive.

OUM has come up with various tools and infrastructure in order to assist tutors in educating their learners. It also provides guidelines and training for tutors, through the Centre for Tutor Management and Development. So, it is now up to tutors to carry out their roles and responsibilities to the utmost of their ability. Only then could tutors help OUM reach its goal of producing graduates of quality.

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In my opinion, the most important factor in producing quality OUM graduates is:

Tutors who are capable and motivated
Quality learning materials
A syllabus which integrates both theoretical and practical aspects of a subject
All of the above
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