Feature: Online Maths Resource Centre

By Dr Safiah Yusof

The new OUM Mathematics Resource Centre (MRC) is OUM's latest innovation for its learners. Set up in March this year, the MRC is a special project undertaken by the Senior Vice President's Office. It is part of OUM's continuous efforts as a distance learning provider in supporting lifelong learning.

The MRC was initially designed based on the characteristics and functions of a learning centre. An on-ground tutoring centre on campus normally offers free tutoring and support services for its learners. Learners could get help from their course instructors as well as other tutors throughout the day on a walk-in basis or by appointment. As OUM is an ODL institution with learners scattered throughout the country, providing such support and services online seemed practical. Furthermore, with online learning being a component of the blended pedagogy at OUM, it made sense to use the same platform as myLMS to develop an online resource centre.

The University strongly feels the need to provide additional support and services for students learning math, particularly at the basic and lower levels. This is because past student performance in assignments and exams indicated that learners were struggling with math. It might be due to their lack of basic math skills or lack of preparation for college math.

Currently, OUM does not offer any developmental or remedial math course that will help non-traditional learners prepare for the math courses they must take in their programmes. These learners may need additional help and support beyond and outside the normal contact hours for the math courses. Through MRC, the University hopes to provide the additional help and support services.

The main function of the MRC is to serve as a learning and resource centre for OUM learners who need help in basic math or would like to review early math topics. The MRC is not meant to replace online discussion forums, modules and face-to-face tutorials. Instead, it will complement them and serve as an alternative for learners when they are unable to get help through the regular channels.

The support will be given through quality and engaging learning resources. The MRC will house a variety of resources for learners' use. It will also benefit tutors and facilitators by providing them with useful resources for teaching math. The resources include and are not limited to supplemental notes, supplemental practice exercises, interactive/ multimedia tutorials, interactive practice problems, pencasts and audio/ video tutorials. There are also links to useful math websites with external resources. The development of learning resources will be a continuing process and the database of resources will keep growing.

The MRC is now accessible to learners and the OUM community at http://e-content.oum.edu.my/portal/. It could also be accessed via myLMS by clicking on the MRC tab at the top of the myLMS page or via the OUM home page, by clicking the MRC icon link at the bottom of the page. The forum area is now open to learners and tutors alike.

The University welcomes everyone's participation and contribution to the forum. The MRC also plans to offer free online tutoring to registered OUM learners, whereby they could get live help from available online tutors. An announcement will be posted in the forum area once the service is available.

The University hopes the MRC will serve its purpose and both tutors and learners will find the resources useful and the support helpful.

* Dr Safiah Yusof is Senior Manager (Special Project) in the Senior Vice President's Office.

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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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