For this month’s Educator Profile, we sat down with Associate Professor Hazidi Abdul Hamid from Open University Malaysia to learn more about his personal approach when it comes to online teaching and learning.
How will online courses be integrated with your current educational model?
Open University Malaysia focuses on flexible and distance learning. We already have our own online learning environment, but that is only for our students. So what about the people outside? People who have not gotten in yet? So to get them there, what we are planning to do with OpenLearning is to have some courses online and open to everybody. So we give them a taste of some significant learning. Not any kind of learning, we give them something solid which they can bite into and see if they can understand it or if they will like it. Most people would like it I think because learning is fun.
When you ask people, “Why don’t you come into lifelong learning?” They often say something like “I don’t think I can do that.” This is because the last time they tried doing something like that was years ago at school. So this way, we can tell them, “Why don’t you try this online course?” They can try their hand at it and say “Hey, I can do it!” This encourages them to enrol into more full term learning. So we hope to achieve these two things through our online courses.
What is your experience with creating courses on OpenLearning?
The platform is actually easy to learn, it is actually very easy to learn. However, I noticed that if you are not sure of what you want to do, if you don’t know where you want to go at the end – it is going to take a long time for you to get there. Because with all the choices of tools and widgets you can get distracted.
So before starting with OpenLearning, before you design your course, you need to know exactly where you are going. The learning outcomes, all the content – once you have all these then you can start filling in all the other stuff. You know, all the exercises and activities, the certification and so on. But at first, if you are not sure where you want to go, it may get a bit distracting.
What will you say to educators who are about to create their first ever MOOC?
Some might panic because they think they have to redesign everything and come up with something new. Don’t panic! Just take what you have, take whatever course you want to offer, and make a different version of it. Break down your course. If you have a course of fourteen weeks, and you have certain amount of content for each week, and if you transfer that to MOOCs — that is going to be a very heavy course. So break it up into three. Make three courses of five weeks each, and then rewrite what you have in there, make it so you have Course X – Part One, Part Two, Part Three. Also, it is different when you write for MOOCs. When you write an academic article, you have to write in a very precise, very scientific language. Not for MOOCs. Remember, you are basically writing for laymen. So, make it easier to understand and make it more digestible. Make it more fun!
What is your personal approach when it comes to online teaching and learning?
It’s like this, when you teach after some years, a lot of educators sometimes get too serious. I mean, no doubt some disciplines can get very heavy. But with this kind of teaching, the way I see it is like this – you have got to learn how to play. You have to remember how it is to have fun!
Associate Professor Hazidi Abdul Hamid has been teaching English and Linguistics at Open University Malaysia since 2005. At OUM, Hazidi has spent the last decade being responsible for the production of educational material for the Faculty of Education and Languages. Before that, he also taught English and Linguistics at UKM. Hazidi comes from Kajang, just south of Kuala Lumpur, the famed home of Satay in Malaysia.