In March 2020, the Malaysian government enforced a Movement Control Order (MCO) as a nationwide measure to curb the spread of Covid-19. This mandated the closure of all non-essential premises, including public and private institutions of higher learning and skills training institutes. Higher Education Providers (HEPs) were required to cease operations of all on campus activities and facilities and send students home on short notice.
According to Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) Guidelines, HEPs had autonomy to modify current face-to-face teaching and learning components to become fully online—given readiness of students, academic staff, existing resources and infrastructure.
higher education institutions in Malaysia were forced to close including public and private universities, colleges, polytechnics and skills training centres.
local and international students across Malaysia were directly affected by the MCO.
UOW Malaysia KDU University College needed an online solution to continue teaching and learning operations for its 3000+ students and 180+ academic staff. The Teaching and Learning Centre was tasked with charting a course of action to ensure minimal business and academic disruptions across all 3 Malaysian campuses. Like many HEPs worldwide, they faced several challenges for switching to online modes of delivery in such unprecedented times:
With an existing OpenLearning subscription, UOW Malaysia KDU University College was well positioned to go fully online.
In anticipation of campus closures, a drill was activated to prepare both academics and students for a possible transition. In the 6 weeks prior to the MCO, all lecturers were asked to trial teaching from home for an entire day—running every lecture, tutorial, assignment and discussion fully online.
UOW Malaysia KDU University College’s Teaching and Learning Centre prepared guidelines for converting face-to-face content to a format more suited for OpenLearning. This enabled them to manage the transition and maintain quality of education delivery. Within these guidelines, lecturers could be innovative in redesigning their lessons to keep students engaged and meet learning outcomes.
The Teaching and Learning Centre played an important role in ensuring lecturers were supported throughout this transition— functioning as a help centre for technical and pedagogical queries. The Centre also monitored overall progress, ensured guidelines were adhered to, and collected biweekly feedback from lecturers.
OpenLearning was used as the central LMS for teaching and learning delivery across faculties, with every subject hosted as an online module on the UOW Malaysia KDU University College portal. Within each module, lecturers could provide course content, run projects and learning activities, facilitate discussions and group work, and track student progress. Lecturers could also integrate other applications or tools such as Skype, WebEx, YouTube, Kahoot! and Google Forms to supplement their teaching on OpenLearning.
Professor Dr Hon Wei Min
Deputy Vice Chancellor – Academic
“We were able to quickly respond to campus closures and strategise our operations because we had a robust LMS like OpenLearning in place. Blended learning was already part of our strategy and our staff are resilient and adaptable to change. By using OpenLearning, our staff were further empowered for efficient engagement with students.”
In powering through this pandemic, UOW Malaysia KDU UC experienced paradigm shifts in their approach towards online teaching and learning.
100% Online Delivery
Since 2018, UOW Malaysia KDU University College has used OpenLearning across its campuses to varying degrees.
Before the MCO:
During the MCO:
UOW Malaysia KDU University College lecturers realised that replicating the face-to-face experience via fully online synchronous sessions were impractical and unnecessary. Pedagogical adjustments were made to course materials to keep in line with on-campus timetables—but redesigned to suit online delivery and broadband requirements:
Physical final exams were replaced with online assessments. The format and length of exams were reevaluated in favour of shorter, more summative types of assessments—where students were tested based on application of knowledge and actual context. More practical types of assessments from the Hospitality or Engineering schools were postponed until safe to return to campus facilities.
Lecturers felt anxious in the beginning as it was difficult to gauge students’ understanding in a new environment. Nonetheless, UOW Malaysia KDU UC’s academic staff were generally supportive of the transition online, and were enthusiastic about picking up new tools to redesign learning experiences.
UOW Malaysia KDU University College was able to quickly move teaching and learning operations online by integrating its existing OpenLearning LMS with other online systems. Some findings and future-proofing measures include:
Lecturers accept that their role will continue to evolve during the MCO and beyond. Given worldwide uncertainties, teaching and learning is unlikely to revert to previous formats. The new norm will see new styles of learning take precedence—fully online, blended learning, project-based, self-directed.
Top management support is crucial in aligning business objectives and addressing challenges at all levels. During the MCO, constant meetings and feedback sessions with top management ensured that both academic and admin teams were receiving the support they needed—empowering them to remain resilient through the crisis.
Teaching and Learning Centre to drive current and future strategies to provide guidance for academic staff and maintain education quality. The Centre has drafted
internal guidelines for academic delivery and online assessments for implementation across all 3 campuses nationwide.