Interview with Assoc Prof Dr Santhi Raghavan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
by Dr David CL Lim (email@example.com)
Dr David: Tell us a bit about yourself and your position as Director of CTMD.
Dr Santhi: I started off as a tutor in August 2001 at UKM.
3 months later, I was interviewed by the late Tan Sri Dr
Abdullah Sanusi for a permanent position as a lecturer
at the then School of Business & Management, OUM.
I currently teach postgraduate students pursuing PhD
in Business Administration at the Centre for Graduate
In late 2008, I assumed the position of Director of the
Centre for Tutor Management and Development (CTMD).
CTMD was set up for the sole purpose of enhancing the
pedagogy of face-to face tutoring, online tutoring and selfmanaged
learning in an open and distance learning (ODL)
environment. My team and I are responsible for the overall
management of tutors, ensuring that they support OUM’s
blended learning pedagogical approach.
Dr David: OUM has embarked on numerous initiatives
to lift the standards of its tutors. Which areas of tutor management and development do you think require rethinking? Can you elaborate?
Dr Santhi: We continuously guide and coach OUM tutors
to enable them to be more effective in delivering content during tutorials and facilitating online interactions. Our
recent series of colloquiums for tutors titled “Knowledge
Sharing & Knowledge Building through OUM’s Quality
Open Distance Education” held both at the national and
regional level (Southern, Northern, East Coast) were
avenues where we enhanced tutors’ capabilities through
the exchange of ideas and experiences in teaching and
learning. Similar colloquiums will be held in Sabah,
Sarawak and the Central region this year.
There is also a need to provide innovative quality services
and products that exceed tutors’ expectations. From
our continuous effort of rethinking our products and
processes, I am pleased to share that we are embarking on
a new e-learning methodology. Selected tutors have been
commissioned to develop online repositories of FAQs that
have emerged in recent years in our myLMS which include
detailed descriptions of questions and answers, tips,
secrets and the beginning-to-end guidance. The objective
of this initiative is to supplement learning with appropriate
questions and answers to be used as reference in their
myLMS forums. In the World Wide Web, FAQs nowadays
tend to be stored in Content Learning Management System
(CLMS). We at OUM are planning to do the same for the
benefit of our learners.
Our modules too will be developed in HTML format
and uploaded. This new format will increase the quality
of modules where tutors and learners can go beyond
the boundaries of hardcopy texts into a virtual learning
These two initiatives support CTMD’s mission to help
tutors integrate new and innovative print and e-learning
content into their tutoring processes.
Dr David: What other plans are in store for OUM tutors?
Dr Santhi: Subject matter and skills are not enough to
ensure our tutors’ success and performance in teaching.
More important are the tutors’ behavioral traits, for
example, who they are as a person, what drives them, how
they make decisions, how they work and how they interact
with our learners.
These traits are usually very difficult to identify or
measure without the help of measurement tools. We plan
to conduct “Psychometric Profiling” on our new recruits
as well as our senior tutors (in batches) to help us describe
the indescribable – the human personality. Research shows
that psychometric profiling can assist our tutors to realize
their full potential to achieve success not only in their
career with OUM but also in all areas of life. This goes in
line with CTMD’s mission to continuously attract, retain
and develop tutors.
Dr David: What are CTMD’s long term plans for tutors?
Dr Santhi: At present, some overseas universities such as
University of Sydney, Western Caroline University and
The Association for the Tutoring Profession (ATP) provide
training that leads to tutor certification. Currently, there is
no such tutor certification offered by local universities.
Certification adds credibility and professionalism to OUM. We would like to call this programme CODLT
(Certification for ODL Tutors).
It is undeniable that the majority of OUM tutors are of high
calibre in their respective fields. However, not all the tutors
have higher education background as some of them come
with industrial exposure. There is a fraction of tutors who
have not undergone a formal teaching course, especially
in ODL pedagogies. CTMD looks at this issue as a major
At present, OUM tutors are given training in the principles
of ODL which underpin the University’s delivery mode.
CTMD finds that this proposed certification programme is
crucial as most of our tutors have been exposed more to the
conventional teaching method which is traditional face-toface
lectures. We are hopeful that this CODLT programme,
which consists of a series of planned short courses, will
produce effective ODL tutors/facilitators.