Feature: Maximising The Use Of Modules

By Richard Ng

The blended learning pedagogy used by Open University Malaysia (OUM) offers the best of both worlds, a balance between traditional classroom and pure online learning. Blended learning enables tutors to support the learning style which is best for each student. Learners do not just like one way to learn and hence, blended learning can provide them with different ways of learning without making learning experience diffi cult.

The module acts as a guide and point of reference. Tutors can use different approaches in supporting learning such as collaborative learning or online discussion by referring to topics in the modules provided to all learners.

Modules developed by OUM are study materials meant to drive learning. They are made available in hardcopy and softcopy so that tutors and learners could use them anywhere and anytime at their convenience. They are learner-friendly, self-contained and feature a step-by-step guide that provides learners with customised contents.

Compared to many other universities, OUM has spent millions of ringgit in setting up the Centre for Instructional and Design Technology (CIDT), which is responsible for producing good study materials for its learners. The challenge is for tutors to use their creativity in order to fully utilise the materials.

The modules are well-structured and incorporate the syllabus of each course. They are also rich in content and meet a certain level of quality. Thus, tutors need not worry about the depth of coverage in their lessons. All they need to do is read, plan and implement what is in the modules whether through face-to-face sessions or the online discussion forum.

Before the start of each tutorial, tutors can post messages in the forum to inform learners about what will be covered in the coming tutorial so that they are alerted on what to prepare. This is important as learners have very limited time for studying. During face-to-face sessions, tutors can present slides based on the topics in the module in order to highlight important issues.

Tutors can also post up issues based on the modules and get learners involved in collaborative learning. Tutors can facilitate these discussions so that feedback is given to learners. At the end of the discussions, tutors can post short quizzes to test what was learned from such discussions.

With less time spent on what to cover in a particular topic as the modules provide the required information and depth of coverage, tutors can use the remaining time to focus on fi nding ways to make learning fl exible and fun and at the same time, tailor their tutorials to the different learning styles of learners. To make the modules useful, tutors should help learners to learn how to use the modules.

A number of blogs have been developed by tutors to help learners understand the content of some modules. These blogs are used to post video clips of what has been learned and also to provide supplementary notes and exam tips. Some modules are accompanied by mobile learning to alert learners on what will be covered or what topics are being discussed in the online forum. These are some of the innovative initiatives taken by tutors to help their learners.

With the advent of technology, much more can and should be done by tutors to help their learners to read and understand the contents of their modules. Tutors should ride on Web 2.0 to make learning interactive and get learners engaged. Engaged learners will be less likely to drop out of their programmes.

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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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