LETTERS: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are affordable and flexible online learning programmes for everyone the world over.

A range of courses is available, including on professional development and lifelong learning.

The implementation of MOOCs in Malaysia began in 2015 under the Globalised Online Learning Agenda to promote digital learning.

Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) takes great efforts to provide a world-class learning experience for students.

The latest initiative is to provide lecturers an opportunity to pursue a Higher Education Teaching Certificate under the MOOC platform from the Harvard University.

The programme provides an opportunity to lecturers to improve their teaching practice and benchmark against the world’s best universities in designing MOOCs.

As one of participants, I would like to share my experience in taking Harvard’s MOOC.

I have done several MOOCs, however Harvard’s MOOC was on a different level and it changed the way I look at online learning.

The course was supported by a technical team 24 hours a day, offering multiple mediums of communication, from online chat, phone call to email.

Once I had a technical glitch with my assignment submission at 3pm (Malaysian time). The technical team responded and solved my problem within 15 minutes although it was about at 3am in the United States.

Every participant also had a mentor to guide him or her to complete tasks, as well as monitor their progress and performance.

Flexibility is a priority too. Although Harvard’s MOOCs have strict schedules and regulations, they also offer flexibility.

For instance, although every assignment submission has a specific date and time, a participant can request for a due-date extension by up to five days.

The mentor will review the request before approving it. I had due-date extensions several times but managed to complete the course with excellent grades.

Twice, my assignments were returned along with comments and suggestions for improvement, plus additional two days to submit the new version.

Harvard’s MOOCs are designed to nurture students to be reflective.

Most of the tasks and assignments required participants to reflect on the learning materials and provide critical views.

My course had eight modules aimed at reanalysing and improving participants’ teaching philosophy.

I realised that every module and assignment was closely linked.

By the end of the course, I came up with a personal teaching portfolio complete with teaching philosophy, strategies and a framework for professional practice.

That was a big achievement, and reward, for taking the course.

The tasks and assignments were in essay format, and it took a week

for evaluators to give response and scores. Their feedback was always encouraging, along with suggestions for improvement and real-life practice.

I always related my experience of teaching in UPSI. They liked the way I approached the assignments by giving examples of Malaysian cultures, challenges and academic development.

My elation in receiving response from my evaluators made me realise that good feedback, encouraging comments and suggestions had a positive impact on students.

The Harvard Higher Education Teaching contributes significantly to my teaching profession and has changed my views of online learning and MOOCs.

I see MOOCs as a big platform for local universities to contribute to the global education system.

Based on my Harvard experience, I also learnt about the strategies adopted by world’s top universities in promoting, designing and delivering MOOCs.


Dean, Faculty of Technical and Vocational,

Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris

Source: New Straits Times https://www.nst.com.my/

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