OUMH 1103 – Open & Distance Learner Technique

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Foreword

In order of facing the borderless world or namely globalization world, people in all over the world need to move faster in order not to be left out in coping with the changes that are moving rapidly without asking people either they are ready to face the changes or not. This scenario also happened in academic world whereby new learning system have been introduced in our country in order to help our people to achieve higher academic level without sinking in rapid changes in the world. In order to help the citizens achieving higher level of academic, one university with newly learning system had been introduced called Open University of Malaysia (OUM). OUM is the first university in Malaysia that using Open and Distance Learning (ODL) concept in their academic practice.

Chapter 2: The Definition

This chapter will be defining the meaning of Open and Distance Learning.

2.1 Definition of Distance Learning

Specifically there is no one right or wrong definition of distance learning that can be found in book for the usage of learning. According to Rowntree(1992), distance learning is learning that occurs at a distance from one’s teacher. Added by Rowntree also, despite being separated from their teachers in time and space, learners are still being guided by them. This type of learning system usually supported by pre-recorded and package of learning materials that leads to the achievements of specific learning objectives.

2.2 Definition of Open Learning

According to Manpower Services Commission UK (1984), open learning can be define as flexible learning. The flexibility includes the environment of learning that allow learner to learn at the time, place and pace of his/her choice.

Model of Open & Distance Learning Concept

Open & Distance

Learning Concept

Face To





Self Managed Learning

Self Managed Learning Face To  Face Learning Online Learning

Course materials

Reading Skill

Stress management

Tutorial session



Chat room



Chapter 3: The Methodology

In this chapter, some of the methodology used in open and distance learning concept will be given with some elaborations.

3.1 The learning approach used Open & Distance Learning Concept

As most of us aware, the environment of open and distance learning are totally different than the traditional way of studies. There will no lecturer that will be assisting you through the entire subject in systematic manner and no meeting with the lecturers’ everyday. It’s you, yourself that need to play and lead the role as a self managed learner. You need to identify your own ability of studies, your learning preferences and strategies towards achieving your academic goals.

Although the students of open and distance learning approach needs to learn by themselves, the universities that involved still help them in such ways in order to help them achieving the academic goal in time. There are several method that been adapted by the universities in order to make the learning mode of studies are easier although most of the students not just studying but working at the same time. Listed below are several methods that been adapted by universities in adopting the open and distance learning concept.

3.1.1 Online Learning

Nowadays, most of the universities including those that still using traditional concept of learning have adapted to this concept. The student would not be required to attend the classes at specific time or place but they just need to participate and joining other peers in virtual manner at any time and place that are suitable for them. With setting up a forum which is similar to the physical classroom, this with help students to participate more effectively since this forum will be online 24 hours a day. With this virtual classroom, student which came from different geographical setting still can connect to their tutors and peers.

With this online learning mode as well, the student can easily searching the materials or references that they need to look for since the university will be uploading such materials to the certain websites for their usage.This will help students especially who are facing time constraint since most of the open and distance learning student are working during day time saving their time to search for book or other material in old fashion way.

Interactions amongst student also more efficient since that can chat with each other, changing their opinions at all time as long as they connected through the internet.

3.1.2 Self Managed Learning

All of the student in this open and distance learning concept still be supported with course materials provided by the university although there are virtual classroom, e-library and etc.This course materials are designed uniquely so that it can suit with the student that need to study by themselves.

Those course materials are designed by the tutors themselves by compiling their knowledge and inputs from other resources such as articles, book chapters from library since this may help in saving time for the students.

3.1.3 Face to face learning

Despite having online learning system and self managed learning materials, students are given the opportunity to meet with their tutors at certain amount of session in a semester. This will help those students that are facing difficulty in learning along to ask as many questions to their tutors.

Part time tutors, mostly came from differently of background of academics and working background have been hired by the university in order to meet the demands for the students.

All the methodology stated are the examples of learning methodology that been adopted by several open universities in the world such as Open University of Malaysia, Universitas Terbuka Indonesia and some other open universities in other country.

Chapter 4: Issues in Open and Distance Learning

This chapter will overlook the advantages and disadvantages of open and learning.

4.1 Advantages of Open and Distance Learning

By taking the chances for being an open and distance learning student, the learner are actually have some of great advantages that could only gain by being in this learning concept.

4.1.1 Improved employability

This advantage is the most valuable advantage that is only available in a person that is studying in Open and Distance Learning concept. This is because most of open and distance learning learners are working adults that we can call as working student. While studying in pursuing the studies for certain years, the student still gains new experience in their work life since they are not quitting their work to study. Thus this scenario will increase the employability level for the student.

4.1.2 Knowledge

While being as a working student, the open and distance learning learner has the opportunity to apply all the knowledge gained from each subject that they’d learned straightly in the working process. All issues during applying those knowledge in their working process can be discussed and shared during the tutorial session. This valuable opportunity could hardly gain by full time students as they have to wait until they are graduated before they can apply those knowledge in their working processes.

4.1.3 Flexibility of the Open and Distance Learning concept

Although all of the open universities doesn’t have the same

standard of flexibility of learning , but stated are the basic advantage of flexibility that been given to the student of open and distance learning concept. In the ODL learning system, student is required to decide the subjects to take according their own learning ability. This kind of system also applies for full time student whereby the entire students are allowed to decide how many subjects to take in certain semester. With the usage of ICT in this learning, ODL learners are actually connected with the peers and tutors 24 hours a day despite being separated by time and space. This will help the learners to study according their time availability. With the usage of ICT in their learning mode, this will help in improving their IT skills.

4.2 Disadvantages of Open and Distance Learning

In any aspects of learning, when comes the advantages of the concept or approach there always will be the disadvantages of the concept. This disadvantage issues came out because to ensure the quality of certain concepts or ideas improved from time to time. Listed below are the disadvantages and are the key issues in open and distance learning that I encountered during this research.

4.2.1 Less physical interaction

Although there is the setting up of online learning system in open and

distance learning concept which enable student to interact amongst them at any time, this particular issue still arise as the disadvantage of open and distance learning. This is because there’s only limited session of seeing their own tutors, despite being connected through online since not all learners are connected to internet at all time. Some learners are still preferred to have the face to face interaction with their tutors and peers. This is because they are more familiar with old fashion mode of class concept which requires students to come to classes at specific place and time.

4.2.2 Level of Understanding

This issue arise since the level of understanding of certain subject by the

open and distance learners can be arguable since most of their times of studies are by learning by themselves. Since the face to face interaction is limited in this open and distance learning concept, the level of understanding of certain subject can be lower than the fulltime student. This is because the open and distance learning learners need to study most of the semester alone. They only have several sessions that they can communicate or asking questions to the tutor. Although the tutors can be communicate through the website, the method in answering learners questions used in the website are different with the method used in class.

4.2.3 Level of Commitment

There are so many commitments that are committed by a learner called working student. The level of commitment can be so volatile since learners need to prioritize all tasks at once task during their time in studies. Commitment in work, studies and for those who already have a family need to be prioritize properly so that there will be no left over while doing those tasks. This is totally different with a full time student that is required to focus their commitment to their studies.

4.2.4 Cost ineffective

This issue relate with the level of commitments issue. It’s still ok for those students that are not married yet since the cash flow still can be controlled since there is no much of commitment for them. With some of reference books need to be bought, increasing of living cost and some money need to be spare for future use, it is difficult for student that already have a family to pay such a large amount of fees. Although there are financial aid available for students, some still prefer not to use the aid since their financial commitment are increasing once they graduated from their studies.

Chapter 5: The Future of Open and Distance Learning

John Chambers, CEO of Cisco System have recently predicted that “Distance learning will be the internet’s next killer application” based upon the fact that the telecommunications and electronic industries are now rapidly replacing the steel, oil automobile and railroad industries as pivotal building blocks for a new 21st century society. This prediction can be supported by taking example on Open University of Malaysia admission of students that have been increasing so fast since its opening in year 2000.From total number of 800 students enrolled during its first academic year, it have been increasing to 26000 students enrolling till year 2004.

The futures of this learning concept are looking brighter in future because of the rapid technological advances and the exploding need for lifelong learning. The figure of total number of open and distance learner will be increasing to 23 million learners all over the world.Housewives,the disabled, senior citizen and working adults have been hit by the awareness of the need for lifelong learning and the only way for them to pursue their studies only available by adopting this open and distance learning concept.

Chapter 6: Conclusion

As the world is moving so fast and the changes in the market demands people are now cannot resist in facing all of this challenge in the daily life. With the flexibility of learning mode as in this open and learning concept, for those who already aware by the need of lifelong learning are now can pursue the academic goals at any time and place that they like.

Although some of us still prefer the traditional way of learning that require us to attend classes and lecture session daily, open and distance learning offers something that are totally different that the traditional way of learning. With the set up of E-library , virtual classroom and online discussion that are used open and distance learning concept, students are have the options to choose how to make their academic goal become reality.

Although there are some issue raised on open and distance learning system, we still have the ample time to tackle the issue in making open and distance learning the preferred choice to study.


  1. Ormond Simpson (2000). Supporting Students in Open and Distance learning. London: Kogan Page
  2. Derek Rowntree (1992). Exploring Open and Distance Learning. London: Kogan Page
  3. A source with no known author – Introduction to Distance Learning: What is it? Why I should be interested? Where may I find courses? How much does it cost? Defining Distance Learning and Its Role from http://distancelearn.about.com

4. Derek Rowntree (1999). A new way with words in distance education from http://www-iet.open.ac.uk/pp/D.G.F.Rowntree/derek.html

5. Dato’ Dr. Zaiton Osman et. al. (2004). Open University Malaysia: Learning Skills for Open Distance Learners. Kuala Lumpur. Utusan Publications and Distributors Sdn. Bhd.


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