Sunday, October 31, 2010

24th AAOU Annual Conference Hanoi Vietnam - Part 2

Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam delivers his opening address. Picture courtesy of Zulkhairi

The 24th Association of Asian Open Universities (AAOU) annual conference held in Hanoi from 26th to 28th October 2010 has brought many fond memories to 12 participants of Open University Malaysia. It was made more memorable with the warm greetings and kind hospitality provided by the host, Hanoi Open University.

The dragon dance performance during the opening ceremony. Picture courtesy of Zulhairi

Before coming to Vietnam, we generally have different perceptions towards Vietnam. But the moment we landed at the Noi Bai Hanoi International Airport, our perceptions were proven wrong. We were greeted by students volunteer, who could speak some good English, which all of us could understand. These students were holding placards with the AAOU 2010 words on it. They made us feel very much at home showing us the direction we required.

Yhung (in red), one of students volunteer meeting us on arrival at the Noi Bai Airport, Hanoi, Vietnam

Our group from OUM was taken care by 4 students, Yhung, Oanh, An, and Ken taking us from the airport to Melia Hanoi hotel where we stay. The hotel was also the venue of the conference.

At the ceramic factory. From left: Rina, Dr. Janet Woo, Richard Ng, Zulhairi, Iryanty and Umi

The Cho Dong Xuan bazar in Hanoi. Picture courtesy of Zulhairi

As our bosses (Tan Sri Anuwar Ali and Prof. Mansor) were busy at the AAOU Exco meeting, we took the opportunity to do a city tour of Hanoi where we visited the Ceramic and Silk Factory in the morning.

Group photo at the Melia Hanoi Hotel before our city tour

We stopped for lunch at the Nisa Restaurant, a Malaysian owned restaurant. Of course our meal is the local Pho (pronounced as fur) beef noodle soup. In the afternoon, we went shopping at the Cho Dong Xuan bazar where you can find all the things that you want from locally made biscuits, Nike and Adidas shoes, souvenirs, to products made of silks, leather belts and furniture. One of the unique things about Hanoi was that the people generally like to have tea and local liquor along the walk-way sitting on stools and small tables.

A typical scene on the streets of Hanoi City

Tan Sri Anuwar Ali (left), talking to Dr. Olubiyi Adeniyi Adewale of Nigeria Open University

Group photo after the dinner on the first night

We were hosted to a dinner for three consecutive nights. On the first night, we were hosted to a dinner by the Hanoi Open University, the conference organizer. We were treated to a 8-course meal with free flow drinks. We were also treated to a cultural performance during the second night hosted by the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam. On the final day of the conference, we were treated to a farewell dinner at the Sen Restaurant, located at the West Lake of Hanoi, approximately 45 minutes away from Melia Hanoi Hotel. It was hosted by the Deputy Minister of Vietnam. We were served with mostly local Vietnamese dishes.

Deputy PM of Vietnam, Prof. Nguyen, shaking hand with Tan Sri Anuwar Ali

Prof. Mansor (left) and Tan Sri Anuwar Ali among the participants at the conference

The signing ceremony of MOUs between Open University Malaysia, Hanoi Open University, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia. Picture courtesy of Zulhairi

The proper conference started on the second day on 27th October 2010 at 8.30am. The conference was officially opened by the Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, Prof. Nguyen Thien Nham. It was followed by a cultural performance and dragon dance. Five keynote addresses were delivered. Several keynote addresses were also delivered. The highlight of the morning session was the signing of MOUs between Open University Malaysia and Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University of Thailand, Hanoi Open University, Philippines Open University and Universitas Terbuka Indonesia to collaborate on areas of developing programmes.

Posing in front of AAOU 2010 backdrop. From left: Prof. Latifah, Prof. Mansor. Tan Sri Anuwar Ali and Richard Ng

In the afternoon the parallel session began where participants presented their papers. Among the presenters from OUM include Prof. Mansor and Dr. Janet Woo.

Prof. Mansor gave a powerful presentation of his paper. Picture courtesy of Zulhairi

Prof. Mansor presented two papers entitled: "Widening Access and Improving Retention in Open and Distance Learning: The Strategies of Open University Malaysia" and "Helping distance learners stay connected: The effectiveness of mobile learning via SMS at Open University Malaysia".

Dr. Janet Woo presenting her shortlisted for Best Paper award paper

Dr. Janet's paper entitled, "Developing Quality Learning Materials for Effective Teaching and Learning in an ODL environment: Making the jump from print modules to online modules", was shortlisted for the best paper award.

Prof. Tan Sri Anuwar Ali delivers his keynote address

On the third day of the conference, on 28th October, 2010, Emeritus Prof. Tan Sri Dr. Anuwar Ali, President and Vice Chancellor of OUM, delivered his keynote address entitled "Going Global: Ensuring Sustainability, Access, Equity and Quality in Open and Distance Learning".

Richard Ng presenting his paper during the conference

In the afternoon, Richard Ng, Director of OUM Perak Learning Centre, presented his paper entitled: "Improving Graduation Rates of Open and Distance Learners via Online Community".

Umi Hanim asking for clarification during the parallel session

The 2-day conference witnessed the participation of over 500 participants from 22 countries. 173 papers were presented under 5 sub-themes. The main theme of the conference was: "OPEN DISTANCE LEARNING TOWARDS BUILDING SUSTAINABLE GLOBAL LEARNING COMMUNITIES".

During the closing ceremony, the outgoing President of AAOU 2010, Prof. Tian Belawati of Indonesia, announced the incoming newly elected AAOU 2011-2013 President, Prof. Wong Tat Meng of Malaysia. Also announced was the winner of the best paper awards and Young Innovators award. The Gold Medal went to Korea, and the two Silver Medals went to the Philippines and Malaysia.

Participants of the AAOU 2010 conference from OUM took the opportunity to visit Ha Long Bay on the final day before departing for Malaysia. The group chartered a boat to take them to visit the mystical mountains which numbered about 2,000. The journey took us almost 3.5 hours to arrive from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay. We spent almost 3 hours at the Ha Long Bay enjoying the scenic beauty and the Heaven Cave located at Ha Long Bay. The weather was good with temperature about 13 degrees Celcius.

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