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UOW Malaysia KDU UC moves teaching and learning fully online during COVID-19 pandemic

Continuity of education delivery during COVID-19 campus closures
Continuity of education delivery during COVID-19 campus closures

6-weeks lead time

for transitioning all teaching and learning delivery to online

100% fully-online

delivery of all subjects, assignments, and where possible, assessments

3000+ students

continued engaging with lecturers and peers even during campus closures

100% increase

in platform usage by both academic staff and students across all campuses
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 public and private institutions of higher learning including UOW Malaysia KDU UC on short notice.

Supporting students and academic staff with a holistic and integrated solution during the COVID pandemic

  • Over 590 higher education institutions in Malaysia were forced to close— including public and private universities, colleges, polytechnics and skills training centres. Source: EasyUni
  • Between 1.2 - 1.6 million local and international students across Malaysia were directly affected by the MCO. Source: ESPACT

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.

The Challenge

UOW Malaysia KDU UC 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:

  • Coordinating and supporting a new academic strategy for remote learning.
  • Maintaining the quality of teaching and students’ academic progression.
  • Considering broadband access and bandwidth requirements for all.

The Solution

With an existing OpenLearning subscription, UOW Malaysia KDU UC was well positioned to go fully online.

UOW-OpenLearning-Case-Studies-desktop-mobile
Redesigning the current face-to-face teaching and learning to online modules on the UOW Malaysia KDU UC portal.

  • Pre-MCO Trial: 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.
  • Central LMS: 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 UC 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.
  • Teaching Guidelines: UOW Malaysia KDU UC’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.
  • Academic Support: 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.

The Results

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 UC has used OpenLearning across its campuses to varying degrees.

Before the MCO:

  • 90% of academics used OpenLearning to host content—as a repository for lecture notes, course materials.
  • 20% of academics used OpenLearning to enhance teaching—as a supplementary source of learning activities.

During the MCO:

  • Every subject across all faculties delivered online via OpenLearning.
  • 100% of academics and students used OpenLearning as end-to-end platform for content hosting, student engagement, assessments, tracking.

Redesigning Learning

UOW Malaysia KDU UC 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:

Smaller Blocks

  • Conventional course syllabus were broken up to smaller segments to make learning more engaging and accessible for students

Golden Ratio

  • 40% synchronous to 60% asynchronous guidelines were implemented. A subject that required 7 contact hours per week could be redesigned to include 3 hours of synchronous virtual classroom sessions and 4 hours of asynchronous activities.


Alternative Assessments

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.

Smooth Transitions

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.

After pre-MCO trial:

  • 60% felt more confident going online.

1 week into transition:

  • Online learning started picking up.
  • Students also reported being anxious at first, but gradually eased into the process.

4 weeks into transition:

  • Online learning was running smoothly.
  • Current students have accepted new norm, but look forward to being back on campus.

Moving Forward

UOW Malaysia KDU UC 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.

Looking for a robust solution that can drive engagement for your students and teachers? OpenLearning can help. Get in touch today.


UOW Malaysia KDU UC

Since 1983, UOW Malaysia KDU University College has provided quality private higher education through its modern campuses and vibrant industry-focused programmes. Previously known as KDU University College, the institution is now part of the University of Wollongong Australia’s global network.

Location

Glenmarie, Damansara Jaya, Penang | Malaysia

Industry

Higher Education

Website
http://openlearning.uowmkdu.edu.my
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"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."
Professor Dr Hon Wei Min
Deputy Vice Chancellor - Academic UOW Malaysia KDU UC

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