By AP Dr Safiah Md. Yusof (firstname.lastname@example.org)
According to Senior Vice President, Prof D r. Mansor Fadzil, from the January 2011 semester, OUM's practice of blended learning pedagogy will shift more towards online learning. The challenge, then, will be for OUM to ensure that quality and meaningful online learning takes place. Steps in that direction include but are not limited to the following:
The key players in OUM's push for deeper and more extensive online learning are the online tutors, now known as OUM e-tutors. They play a critical role in helping to build a learning environment that is meaningful, enjoyable and rewarding for learners. The e-tutors must be able to manage and facilitate their online forums well, participate in rich discussions with learners, and guide, motivate, engage and stimulate learners to construct knowledge.
The myVLE discussion platform cannot be left to run on its own. E-tutors must be active and should be role models since not all learners are familiar with how the online environment works in an educational setting. Some may think the forum is merely a chat room, which it is not. With plans to offer more courses fully online, OUM must have a pool of e-tutors who are not only qualified, but who are also skilled online facilitators.
To be realistic, not all courses can work fully online in the OUM context, at least for the time being. The reality is that not everyone can be successful online learners. Although gaining momentum, fully online courses are relatively new in our country compared to other universities abroad with a head-start. Nonetheless, OUM is taking steps to embed the culture of online learning now, ensuring that, when the future arrives, it is in a position to take full advantage of the promise of online learning.