A Practical Approach to On-Line Course Development in Malaysia

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF1 // Many universities in Malaysia started their open learning programs early this decade. The University of Malaya began its own program in 1994. Since then many has debated the wisdom of the program. However, with the recent advancement made in the computer technology we, in the University of Malaya, have accepted that open learning is here to stay. Thus, our effort now concentrates on how the program can be made to work effectively. // Our concern about the effectiveness of open learning is supported by recent studies on open learning. The failure rate among students, who followed these programs, were found to be very high; in some cases as high as 60 to 70 percent (Gan, 1998). Although a high dropout rate in the range of 30 to 50 percent is not uncommon for open learning programs, the figures should be closer to the lower end of the range after a few years (Moore and Kearsley, 1996). Many factors contributed to the failure rate. They range from lack of proper facilities to the attitude among students and teachers involved in the program. Many students do not have internet-ready computers to access materials for their courses. Some students were just not ready to follow such a program, where they have to endure the consequences of working independently most of the time, particularly the feeling of alienation and isolation. Not all teachers were ready either. Some are not sufficiently committed to adjust their teaching to suit distance learning, involving much distance communication. // In view of the above problem, we in the Multimedia Development Centre, University of Malaya (MDCUM) started developing a template of the Online Course for the university, which will be a stepping stone towards the development of an effective learning model for the university and other higher institutions. Our approach takes the view that the teachers are the best people to handle the instruction, though a shift in their teaching paradigm may be required. //