Thursday, May 28, 2009

OUM To Host 9th International Conference On Information - Bernama

By Mohd Azhar Ibrahim

KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 (Bernama) -- Open University Malaysia (OUM), working in collaboration with the Esterhazy Karoly College, in Eger, Hungary; the Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech, Morocco and the Delta Academy of Science in Egypt; will host the 9th International Conference on Information (ICI9) at the Legend Hotel, here from 12 to 13 August, 2009.

The world is being globalised, shrunk and brought closer in technological terms.

"Technology is integral in today's educational experience, particularly in the field of open and distance learning (ODL), where an impressive array of technologies have enabled the learning process to be conducted effectively at a time, place and pace that suit individual lifestyles, learning preferences and personal development plans," OUM Senior Vice President, Prof Dr Mansor Fadzil, told Bernama in a recent interview.

According to Prof Mansor, the theme of the conference 'Learning Innovations in Higher Education' will provide the platform for researchers and educationalists to share the latest development and innovation in teaching and learning, apart from being an avenue for networking.

"The very nature of ODL means that the boundaries to the 'field' are ever changing and evolving; a scenario that is set to continue well into the next millennium. Therefore it is incumbent upon providers of open learning to constantly innovate and explore new technologies," he said.

ICI9 is expected to attract some 150 participants comprising members of the Asian Association of Open Universities as well as learning solution providers.


Teaching is the transmission of knowledge from an educator to learners.

In ODL, the conventional 'chalk and talk' academic discourse is replaced by the use of information and communication technologies that allow for interactive two-way transmission between educators and learners.

Successful ODL courses are those that are well planned, with aspects from learning outcomes to assessment, from student support to technology; being integrated and well organised.

But innovation and development in information communication technology is a double-edge sword. While they offer new possibilities for advancement in the delivery system, the same technology has also made plagiarism easier.

Thus the relationship between new technologies and ODL is often focused on issues surrounding ICT services, network reliability and other techno-educational matters. Particular attention is given to the human element that cannot be replicated by computers and technology.

ICI9 participants will cover e-learning and open learning environments, the use of mobile devices such as cellphones and MP3 players in mobile learning (mLearning), emerging technologies and their implementation in a higher education setting, and their application as a tool for effective assessment with respect to ODL.

"OUM will showcase its Learning Management System (LMS), which was developed in-house for our students, lecturers and tutors, to support the e-learning delivery," Prof Mansor said.

"We will also deliberate on OUM's mLearning experience that uses existing social network applications like Facebook, MySpace, and mobile devices like cellphone, iPod and digital camera to send materials to students," he added.


In the not too distant past, people held the perception that valid and valuable adult learning can only take place in the presence of an accredited and professionally qualified educator.

Skeptics argued that ODL -- which had its humble roots in correspondence courses -- lacked the open-ended dialogue then regarded as the touchstone of legitimate education.

But in this instance, being 'out of sight' does not translate into 'out of mind'. Distance learning is not the soulless and isolated activity that some might assume it to be. Invigorating forum that generates tremendous intellectual ferment can and often do take place across the Internet.

New communication technologies can accommodate the social aspect of learning. Simulated two-way communication, peer-group contact and lively discussions, which can be just as illuminating as a conventional lecture session, take place through e-mail, Facebook and chat groups.

Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. As a force contributing to social and economic development, open and distance learning is one of the most rapidly growing fields of education and training today.

The constant change in technological innovation in communications has conclusively pushed ODL approaches to the forefront of educational practice.

Few would now argue that distance education, as practiced at OUM, matches the best that any conventional university can offer.


Conventional ideas about education are undergoing a transformation as the concepts of ODL and lifelong learning gain popularity.

ODL is fast becoming an accepted and indispensable part of mainstream education systems in both developed and developing countries.

Millions of learners around the world have discovered that learning can happen at any time, in any place and in any setting; it is no longer necessary to be in a classroom in front of a teacher to be in a 'place of learning'.


Open University Malaysia is jointly owned by a consortium of 11 public universities in the country.

The university offers a total of 70 disciplines ranging from diploma to doctorate programmes, all of which are accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).

Its flexible approach offers opportunities for working adults to upgrade their knowledge, competitiveness and versatility, without leaving home or the workplace.

"Since its inception in 2000, OUM has produced some 13,000 graduates. ODL is going to have a big impact in Malaysia, as more and more people realise that it is flexible and affordable yet the quality of education is not compromised in the process," Prof Mansor said.

"The challenge lies in monitoring, motivating and counselling ODL students, who are mostly working adults with the attendant family as well as social commitments; to stay true to their academic pursuits to the end," he added.

Through the projects and activities of its secretariat, OUM International, OUM has acquired a reputation for rigorous quality control.

With over 35,000 learners listed in its enrollment register, without doubt, OUM is fast becoming a name to conjure with in the field of open and distance learning and play an especially decisive role in the creation of a knowledge-based society.

Further details and update on ICI9 can be obtained at

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