Open and distance learning gaining traction

OVER the past five months, almost every student around the world has been tuned in to a teacher or lecturer through an electronic device.

For most of them, this form of learning has been nothing short of a new experience.

But for a cluster of tertiary students, this mastery was nothing out of the ordinary.

These are the students enrolled in open and distance learning (ODL) courses, a teaching and learning format that is gaining traction thanks, to technology.

In Malaysia, Higher Education director-general Prof Datuk Seri Dr Mohamed Mustafa Ishak said with the advent of technology, higher education institutions are no longer confined to the traditional brick and mortar teaching and learning methods.

“ODL is gaining momentum and is the new frontier of teaching and learning.

“It will revolutionise the landscape of higher education, ” he told StarEdu.

Given the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Prof Mohamed Mustafa said this form of learning provides increased access and flexibility for students and lecturers.

“It also provides for a novel and more enriching means of higher quality interaction during the pandemic.”

ODL includes correspondence education, home study, independent study, external studies, continuing education, distance teaching, adult education, technology-based or mediated education, e-learning, mobile learning, learner-centred education, open learning, open access, flexible learning and distributed learning.

Employers can also benefit as it promotes professional development. It allows for the upgrading of skills, increased productivity and development of a new learning culture.

Overall, ODL has made learning more accessible to the wider population and meets the needs of the 21st century learner.

“However, the required infrastructure must be adequately provided.

“The necessary course wares must be available and accessible to teachers and students.

“We currently face challenges in fully meeting the objectives but we are making some notable progress.

“Although it does not fully replace the traditional face-to-face teaching and learning experience, nevertheless, it is a useful alternative to ensure the continuity of education.” – By REBECCA RAJAENDRAM

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