University of Muhammadiyah Surakarta (UMS), University of Muhammadiyah East Kalimantan (UMKT) and other institutions within the Muhammadiyah group of universities had already implemented eLearning for the past 10 years, even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of the advantages, as well as the leap to online learning, is learning that is able to transcend the boundaries of space and time simultaneously, beyond the classroom.”
— Prof. Dr. Harun Joko Prayitno, Education expert, UMS
However, UMS then used Schoology, which meant that content was only accessible for users within the system. This was one of the main factors that prompted a switch to a more inclusive eLearning platform, as a more comprehensive system was needed to enable access to a wider audience—stakeholders, lecturers, and students.
Similar to Moodle, Schoology was not as modern and offered limited content features—only in the form of text, making it less catchy for young learners today. Schoology’s system was also limited given its nature as a repository, namely for media storage, which to UMS is an outdated view of eLearning.
With Schoology, the university’s database needed to be manually updated, deleted, and updated again annually to reduce the number of databases stored in total. All these factors motivated UMS’ shift to the OpenLearning platform.
UMS chose OpenLearning based on its comprehensive features, complete documentation, flexibility in creating various types of content—be it in the form of text, video, audio—plus complete assessments tools such as Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) and essays. Before implementing OpenLearning at UMS, UMKT had already piloted eLearning on OpenLearning as a whole. Following the pilot’s success, UMS continued to transform its teaching and learning more comprehensively, using OpenLearning as an eLearning portal. Currently, UMS and UMKT have started to offer undergraduate study programs online for courses such as pharmacy and nursing.
“This is a more feature-packed platform, UMS recommends OpenLearning.”
— Drs. Priyono, MSi, Lecturer at the Faculty of Geography, UMS
OpenLearning also provides the flexibility to store entire databases, simply by limiting access for past students or different classes. There is no more need to manually update or delete data, making it much easier for university administration.
The system also allows UMS to provide sign-in access codes for students in certain batches, depending on their enrolment needs. OpenLearning allows review of student work in the form of modules and activities, to enable lecturers to audit learning activities including contracts related to topics and learning materials.
All OpenLearning modules are set up as thumbnails, similar to that on YouTube, for students to review before clicking into more detailed content. Materials can also be presented in various forms such as files, videos, audio, or presentations. After every lesson, the system can be set up to include assignments to gauge students’ understanding of the material. Quizzes or assessments can also be launched at set times to manage attendance if needed.
Assessments are able to be made more diverse—MCQs, fill in the blanks, essay format, or by submitting documents. Assignments can be designed to reflect independent students' work, or as a team task requiring cooperation within groups supported by the system. Assignments can also be made chronological so that the learner's work is sequential.
In addition, OpenLearning's online chat feature is always on standby to help users with their problems or questions.
UMS and UMKT shares courses eligible via a credit transfer system, to which several programs have been implemented. Though the original content is hosted on UMS’ portal, it can be accessed by UMKT students—with no extra time or effort spent for duplicating content.
One of the courses taught by Mr. Waluyo, features a lecturer from abroad—Dr. Zaliha from UTHM, Malaysia who was invited to teach one of its modules. As there is no limitation in file size, as materials up to 240MB can be accommodated well. Collaborations like this also help improve ranking criteria such as for the World QS ranking.
Lecturers have the flexibility to set their working hours to provide help for students on the platform on a real-time basis. Questions can also be monitored as a whole on the course feed page. Discussions and consultation hours can also be set and made known easily via OpenLearning’s announcement feature.
In addition, certificates can be issued automatically through the system to students upon completion of the courses taken. OpenLearning allows lecturers to easily monitor students' progress, and to review the learner's journey, especially for those who have not completed all assignments and learning activities.
“Learning via OpenLearning is one of the first steps in the independent learning project programmed by our current Minister of Education, as well as one of the supports for the teaching and learning process during the current pandemic.”
- Muhammad Nasrudin S. Pd., Lecturer at Muhammadiyah University of Sidenreng Rappang
University of Muhammadiyah Surakarta is ranked the third-best Indonesian private university by the QS WUR 2022, and is listed as the 14th best university in Indonesia.
Higher Education, University