Developing new skills

THE Wawasan Open University (WOU) hopes to offer two new programmes for teachers and those who want a qualification in education by July next year.

Its School of Education, Languages and Communications dean Assoc Prof Dr Malachi Edwin Vethamani said the programmes are the Bachelor of Education honours degree in Primary Education and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education.

“We have sent the programmes for accreditation by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) and hope to offer them in July next year,” he said.

Dr Malachi said the Bachelor of Education programme is aimed at existing teachers in primary schools while the Post Graduate Diploma in Education programme is open to graduates from any discipline who want a professional qualification in the field of education.

For the bachelor programme, the focus will be on the English Language with a minor in the teaching of Mathematics and Science.

This 120-credit Bachelor of Education programme is targeted at in-service teachers in primary schools who already have a Certificate as well as a Diploma in Education.

“These trained teachers will get exemptions for certain education and MQA courses,” he added.

Dr Malachi said teachers in the bachelor programme will be taught new skills such as e-learning and teaching through the Internet.

“We also want to introduce them to creating an e-portfolio, a new skill. This would not only house personal data about the teachers but could include their lesson plans or a blog where students can interact directly with them,” he added.

Teachers could use it like their own personal website where they could scan and include any awards they might have won.

“It is important that teachers adapt to new skills,” he added.

Dr Malachi said there has been a marked increase in the emergence of private schools, colleges and university colleges throughout in the country.

To meet the staffing demands of these institutions, many graduates from various disciplines have entered into the teaching profession without any formal qualifications in education.

“The aim of the Post Graduate Diploma in Education programme is to meet the needs of this group of professionals,” he said.

The proposed 30-credit programme will provide both pedagogical content and skills for graduates from various disciplines to upgrade the quality of their teaching.

A candidate can be awarded a certificate of education on completion of 20 credits.

In order to earn the diploma, candidates will have to go through a teaching practicum which could be carried out in the institutions where they are currently employed.

Among the courses offered in the postgraduate diploma programme are Foundation in Education, Introduction to Pedagogy, Management and Leadership in Education, Teacher for E-Learning and Teaching Practicum.

As the programmes offered under WOU are open distance learning, there is no maximum number of semesters which teachers must complete them in, said Dr Malachi.

“Our learners who are mostly part time adult students will be supported by WawasanLearn, a Learning Management System designed as a platform to allow students, tutors and administrators to input information for learning, supporting and keeping track of the learning process,” he said.

The system is also used for uploading course content, course updates or important announcements.

It would also enable students to use interactive features such as bulletin boards, video conferencing, and on-line discussion forums.

“These systems will guide students through all stages of the learning cycle, organise your course, and keep track of your records and progress.

“We also make full use of electronic communications such as e-mail, telephone, radio, audio and video facilities, and television to support you in the learning process.

“This would add an interactive element to the learning process, which will be reinforced through a variety of practical and interactive exercises.

“Students will exercise control over their learning experience, but they will not be alone as they can engage in online collaborative learning with their peers,” he said.

He said qualified tutors would assist students during learner-centred tutorial sessions.

These would be held during weekends at WOU’s regional offices.

The School of Education, Languages and Communications was established to support WOU in its efforts to increase the level of knowledge and scholarship in the broad areas of education, languages and communications by developing and delivering programmes leading to the award of degrees and qualifications at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

In collaboration with the Centre for Graduate Studies, the School of Education, Languages and Communications will also offer postgraduate programmes at the masters and doctoral levels.

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