The 1st Presidential Speech Series Webinar “Responding COVID19 to Remove Barriers: Access, Equity and Inclusion”

Held by Asian Association of Open Universities

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, all aspects of life must continue to run, including in the field of education. The current condition requires the public to carry out face-to-face education directly in order to refer to the applicable Covid-19 Health Protocol namely physical distancing to prevent Covid-19 transmission. Therefore, the Secretariat of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) held a Web Seminar (Webinar) with the theme “AAOU Presidential Speech Series – COVID19 Responding to Remove Barriers: Access, Equity and Inclusion” virtually through the Microsoft Teams platform, Thursday (4 June 2020).

Within 638 attendees out of 2044 people who registered, the webinar was successfully chaired by Prof. Daryono, S.H., M.A., Ph.D and presented two speakers, Prof. Ojat Darojat, M.Bus., Ph.D (President of AAOU; Rector of Universitas Terbuka), and Prof. Dato’ Dr Mansor Fadzil (President of Open University Malaysia).

  • Dr. Rahmat Budiman openingspeech
  • Dr. Rahmat Budiman introduces the chair of webinar, Prof. Daryono

The webinar was opened by Dr. Rahmat Budiman, the Secretary General of AAOU. Following to Dr. Rahmat’s welcoming speech, Prof. Daryono, the chair of webinar, introduced the two keynote speakers to the attendees.

Prof. Dato’ Dr Mansor Fadzil was the first keynote speaker to deliver his presentation with sub-theme of: Transformative Online Pedagogies. He stated that eliminating printed materials at all and change it into digital materials is the effort Open University of Malaysia (OUM) has done to support the one of his institution’s efforts to support the Online and Distance Learning (ODL) method. It is also emphasised that all of this digital transition also needs to be fully ‘geared’ with the enrichment of learning resources in digital library for students,  qualified modules that promote better understanding on diversity and globalisation among learners,  inclusive instructional design for academic staff. Another initiative made by OUM to attract learners to study during this pandemic situation is to increase intake at their institution from 3 into 6 per year, and also the support of good internet coverage which now has wider reach for learners with geographical barriers, such as rural-areas, on-site workplaces, etc. In summary, Prof. Mansor advised everyone in 21st century must be able to think creatively, critically, as well as improving in communication and collaboration skills.

In his first speech as the President of AAOU 2020-2022, Prof. Ojat Darojat delivered his presentation in the theme of Innovative Learning Designs for Student`s Success. He mentioned some examples of how Universitas Terbuka (UT) has done its participation in Indonesia’s Education during Covid-19 outbreak by providing and offering digital learning materials for free (publicly), extra internet quota for UT’s students and other institutions’ students who access UT’s material by strengthening partnership with internet providers, and  bring fully online services for students. He also stated that this outbreak situation has been a great momentum for UT to take significant role in providing help and assistance to other conventional institutions in practising online and distance education for their students. In order to make sure all tutors have new to technological skill, they will be provided with the synchronous literacy skill training. The training itself is also available for students so they will get familiar with how to access website and other digital materials for the online learning. He can’t deny internet broadband quality and computer & internet literacy skill level are two major challenges which are still becoming a big task to solve. In summary, he mentioned that technology supports quality of education but cannot replace the work of teachers. Also, he emphasised that that the success of the student is not only because of the quality of content, but also in context of online learning, student engagement is also important, that’s why teachers / tutors also must pay attention to this point.

At the end, after the Questions and Answers (QnA) session, the AAOU Secretary General, Dr. Rahmat Budiman mentioned there were about 317 questions asked by the attendees. He thanked all the keynote speakers, chair, committees, and attendees as the closing speech.