Feature: Insight Into The Module Production Process

Interview with Datin Hanin by Lilian Kek Siew Yick

DATIN HALIMATOLHANIN BINTI MOHD KHALID is the Director of the Centre for Instructional Design and Technology (CIDT). She explains to Lilian Kek how CIDT develops modules from scratch until they become finished products.

Lilian: Could you briefly tell us about the function of CIDT?

Datin Hanin: The main function of CIDT is to develop and produce quality learning materials for OUM learners. CIDT also develops online and multimedia learning materials such as learning objects, i-tutorials, video lectures, audio modules and learning segments in i-Radio.

In addition, it supports the University by providing services which include art and design, video shooting and editing, montage, photography and delivery of learning materials through its logistics unit.

Lilian: Can you give us an overview of the major processes in your department?

Datin Hanin: The major processes at CIDT involve the development of print modules. It starts with the recruitment and training of subject matter experts to become our module writers and moderators. When the writers receive their appointment letter to write modules, they also receive the titles and tables of contents of the modules as well as the timeline for them to complete the writing.

After they have written and submitted the contents, these are scanned through an anti-plagiarism software. This is crucial because we want to avoid having plagiarised contents in our modules. Next, the writing and language are reviewed. If found unsuitable, the contents will be returned to the writer for improvement.

Next, the contents will be reviewed by moderators (who are also subject matter experts). All contents need to be correct, current, have enough depth and suit the level of the learners.

The moderated contents are further improved upon by our instructional designers (ID), who will enhance the text flow and add illustrations and diagrams so that the module is not too text heavy. This is to make the module simple enough for learners. The IDs also put themselves in the shoes of the learners by trying to understand the language used and seeing whether the contents are clear.

They will also ensure that the learning outcomes, activities and self assessments are aligned. For illustrations and diagrams, graphic designers will create new artwork or improve those supplied by the writers. The contents are then passed to the Editorial Unit for editing.

The next step involves getting desktop publishers to do the layout. After that, a team of CIDT reviewers will review the content. Proofreading is also done. The draft copies are then sent to the respective faculties/school/centre for further review. Field testing of new modules needs to be conducted to improve the quality of modules further.

After amendments have been done, a mock-up copy is submitted again, this time to be signed off by the Dean/Head/Director. The softcopy is then sent to METEOR Doc Sdn Bhd (MDoc) for printing. Finally, the Logistics Unit will pack and deliver the printed modules to the learning centres.

Lilian: How many staff are there at CIDT?

Datin Hanin: There are 60 full-time staff.

Lilian: What is your role as the Director of CIDT?

Datin Hanin: I think, most importantly, it is to get the staff to not only understand but internalise the meaning of quality learning materials and how their role is crucial in producing quality learning materials. Teamwork and motivation are the keywords.

Getting each staff to be involved and take pride in their work are the main objectives. We need to create a happy and conducive environment. We also need to keep our blood pressure low!

Lilian: How are modules useful for ODL learners?

Datin Hanin: The modules are simple and easy to understand. They provide guidance and meaningful activities to assist the learners in learning. The simplified diagrams, tables and graphics are helpful too. The modules are also standard in size and pagination. Learners can know the number of pages in a topic, which could make it easier for them to plan their learning.

Lilian: What are some of the challenges CIDT faces in developing quality learning materials?

Datin Hanin: We are short of quality and committed writers for some modules. We also have writers pulling out at the last minute, which affects our production timelines.

Lilian: How does CIDT overcome these problems?

Datin Hanin: We continuously plan and strategise at every stage of the process.

Lilian: What are your aspirations for the department?

Datin Hanin: That the learning materials and services provided will become world class.

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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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