The landscape of today’s education is no longer the same as before. It has rapidly changed during a year ago because of the massive COVID-19 pandemic that hits every corner of the globe. Every country is fighting for survival in every aspect for their country affairs such as economy, health, social and education during this probably the hardest time on our modern history.
Education is a lifelong journey and people should never stop learning despite any obstacles comes our way, including the pandemic. According to the UNESCO Monitoring Report, around 1.7 billion students globally had been affected by the closure of school and higher institution last year that happened because of the pandemic. This is unprecedented and badly affected the world education system at all levels. Because of these circumstances, those who are having good or excellent access to the internet, are now showing a substantial interest to the online learning.
Even before the pandemic hits, online learning market was predicted to escalate in the next few years. With the current situation that forces the education system to mainly go online, this market can go far beyond the expectation with massive profit. There are numerous online learning platforms in the market such as Udemy and Coursera. Top world universities have also ventured in this online learning market such as Stanford University and Harvard University by making some of their courses available to be accessed online.
What makes people interested in using this online learning program to attain extra skills, knowledge and even a degree? One of the reasons is to keep up with the rapid growth of technology and rapid change in the world that cause a demand for various different skills needed in order to stay relevant in the current and future life. The skills that we have now might not be important in the next 2-3 years. This scenario has left people confused on which skills and knowledge are vital for them to be mastered on. Therefore, an online learning program is a great option for them to polish their existing skill or learning new ones in a flexible way to help them adapted to this rapid change in the world. They can now have their certificate legally issued by the institutions that offers the online programs around the world.
Malaysia has also embarked on the same journey of producing credential through online learning program with Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) led the way. USM has development its own micro-credential program, the first of its kind in Malaysia, which allows any individual to earn a digital form of certification in any desired area offered by USM. This certificate will indicate the holder of having competency in a specific skills and achievement of specific knowledge, aligned to their own needs, priorities, careers and life. This program has a module and requirements that need to be fulfilled by the students before they can obtain the certificate. This program allows anybody to earn recognition by taking the learning module in their own flexible and convenient time, without having to worry about paying the expensive tuition fees, attending conventional lectures, rearrange working and studying schedule and other related issues. Knowing this would be a promising future flexible education, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) is now introducing the lecturers to this unique program through workshops and series of talks by the micro-credential experts in Malaysia. The Centre of Academic Excellence and Development took the challenge by organizing the workshops as an early preparation for the program to be run in UMK in the near future.
Studying online by sitting in the comfort of your own chair at home, watching the lecture videos, taking the test and other assessments and do the further reading on your own sound like a dream education for us. That is how our future learning should be like.
NURUL AKMAR CHE ZAUDIN