My choice to pursue my course at the Wawasan Open University and not any other University was influenced by the academic services that the University offers to its students. WOU provides a package that is comprehensive of studying support to those who are full-time employees and at the same time want to study. This enables the students to manage their learning as well as job commitments or any other commitments. Wawasan Open University provides teaching learning and information through the latest technologies and printed materials. All information that is needed by the students is enclosed in a set of materials. Unlike other universities, WOU understands that being a distance learner, one probably has less interactions with other course mates and that one has to locate resources by their selves, which sometimes may make one feel helpless. Hence, the learners require support throughout the course. With this in mind, the university provides self-learning materials of high quality, regional centre to access learning resources, computer labs and digital library. The thing that fascinates me mostly about WOU there are internet based tutors, course coordinators, telephone counseling services and face to face tutorials and their studies are flexible.
I decided to do my course through Open Distance Learning because of three factors: the course cost is cheap; certificate is approved by the government and spacious time to study. At Wawasan Open University their courses cost are affordable. Among all the Universities in the country, WOU has the lowest tuition fees. Also with numerous financial support options that are available, education at Wawasan Open University is much more affordable. Secondly, all distance-learning programmes at Wawasan Open University have been already evaluated and approve by all boards that regulates education of Malaysia. This gives also academic support and me the assurance of high standards of course contents. Lastly but not the least open distance learning provides a spacious time for studying. Open Distance Learning does not need the presence of a tutor, teacher or an instructor, learning place is not essentially at the same period in teaching.
Open Distance Learning
Well the word open has various definitions and even implications. But in this context am going to focus on the open meaning which implies a learning system which available to anybody, irrespective of qualification, ethnic group or even age. Also on this context am going to look on Distance has having a nature of space and time dimension. The physical distance implies that a person learns away from the educational association, in my case Wawasan Open University (WOU). In both spatial and geographical sense then, Open Distance Learning is distanced. In distance learning, there is separation between the teacher and learning association, on one hand and the learner on the hand. When the openness and distance are combined, then Open Distance Learning (ODL) is a learning system whereby learning is accessible to everybody, and where the learning and teaching undertakings are separated in space and time.
Characteristics of Open Distance Learning
Process of learning is just in time and on demand. Digital learning is imparting and delivering knowledge where and when the students requires it, and as frequent as we required it. This learning concept of anywhere anytime leads to greater learner satisfaction and retention, additionally to significant cost benefits to employer. For example, I can access WOU anytime through the provided website from the Open University which gives me easy access and information such as Tutorial link with files and documents uploads that are relevant and significant to my course. From this approach, I save a lots time and travelling costs as I can study anywhere and at any time I feel like studying.
The other characteristic of Open Distance Learning is that of face to face meeting for the tutorials. The learners also have the opportunity to interact with each other in the practice sessions, library study and laboratory. For example, by use of students portal in Wawasan Open University website, process of studying is by posts such as discussions, assignments, course materials and lesson to the web. This is beneficial to me as I can download the material to view or read based on my schedule. Besides, I can interact with my colleagues to group up and study of conduct a discussion together using the WOU library. Another characteristic is that of self-managed learning. Learners have to be well organized and independent to study by themselves. For example, WOU provides us with course materials such as CD form, printed material or textbook for each of us. This helps me to study or learn at my own free time.
Open Distance Learning course access is unlimited, learners can have unlimited access to the course by internet tutorials which is flexible 24 hours a week throughout the year. For example, I always have support to gather more material to the course through internet access that is provided by the WOU. Finally yet importantly, Open Learning is a two-way communication. This means that the tutor and the learner communicates through passive receipt by use of asynchronous or synchronous which are wed based instruction broadcast signals. For example, two-way audio conferences can be provided to the learner or a two way video communicate and see each other. This is usually beneficial to me as I am able to contribute and participate with my colleagues in class and real-time.
Open Distance Learning does not need the presence of a tutor, teacher or an instructor. The learning place is not essentially at the same period in teaching. In the approach communication methods is through innovations of technologies such as audio, printed materials, video, broadcasting, online communication and self-instructional communication electronic. In ODL the learners have the freedom of studying at the comfort of their homes.
Evans, Terry. Understanding Learners in Open and Distance Education. Open and Distance Learning Series. Kogan Page, Ltd., 120 Pentonville Road, London N1 9JN, England, United Kingdom., 1994.
Rowntree, Derek. Preparing materials for open, distance and flexible learning: an action guide for teachers and trainers. Kogan Page, 1994.
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