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Friday, March 24, 2017

Open Learning: Igniting the passion for learning online | Digital News Asia

  • Offers 10,000 private courses run by public and private institutes of higher learning.
  • Takes on a student-centred approach while enabling educators with its social elements

OpenLearning founder and chief executive officerr Adam Brimo
Photo: Chong Jinn Xiung
"TECHNOLOGY has not been a huge disruption in the education sector as it has been traditionally slow to adapt to new changes, according to OpenLearning founder and chief executive officer Adam Brimo (pic above)." notes Chong Jinn Xiung, Writer at Digital News Asia

“Education today is probably at the stage that the print industry was in during the late 1990s, slowly accepting and experimenting with the new possibilities offered by the Internet,” he says.

That’s where online learning platform OpenLearning, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform, hopes to ease the process of online learning for students and teachers in institutes of higher learning.

Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, OpenLearning’s online platform was first deployed in 2012 to facilitate a blended learning course, that combined online learning with traditional classroom lessons at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

In 2014, OpenLearning spread its wings to Malaysia and became part of the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education’s Education Blueprint for 2015-2025 acting as the MOOC platform for 20 public universities in the country, initiating 60 blended courses to over 100,000 students.

The truth is that the economy is growing faster than the higher education sector is able to produce students to fuel the knowledge economy.  However, building new universities is expensive and finding qualified academics is a challenge.

“The number of students entering tertiary education is expected to increase significantly within the next decade as it is estimated by there will be 2.5 million students entering public and private universities in Malaysia,” Brimo says, citing estimates in the Malaysian Education Blueprint .

To date, OpenLearning has over 3,000 public courses that anyone can set up and join. They also have 10,000 private courses run by public and private institutes of higher learning.

Even the courses are shared across all universities so students from other universities are able to participate with peers from across the country...

Enabling educators
“In traditional learning, students lack empowerment because the power is in the hands of the teacher and information is dispensed. In contrast, personalised learning has a more experimental flow where students can experience, discover and express themselves.”

Brimo is of the opinion that teachers are there to support the learning process rather than take control of it. They should guide a student’s discovery and curiosity by utilising engaging content through videos and easy-to-digest lessons complemented by interactive activities that encourage participation.

At the same time, the platform is also out to assist teachers in facilitating classes of any size be it 10, 50 or even over a hundred students.

Much of what makes a MOOC course great has to do with the course design and for that OpenLearning has its own team of dedicated designers that look at how to make offline classroom material suited for online learning.