Mr Peter Phang is pursuing a part-time Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Computer and Network Technology awarded by Northumbria University, at the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS).

He relies on the institute’s Blackboard learning management system (LMS) to check his study timetable, receive notifications on updates or new content and obtain study materials.

The e-learning and community platform also grants students access to lecturers’ notes, online libraries and pre-recorded video classes to aid with revision, among others.

Mr Phang, 47, also utilises third-party applications such as Dropbox to receive and share files with lecturers and coursemates, as well as communication tools such as e-mail and instant messaging.

“Without these, it would have been very difficult to build bonds among us busy working adults,” he says.

PSB Academy’s online portal and virtual learning environment, Moodle, houses downloadable lecture notes, allows for discussions that involve tutors in the online forum and caters for remote assignment submissions.

Students can watch selected recorded lectures via the Class Recall portal.

It also has a Learning Resources Centre that subscribes to e-books on engineering and life sciences from Wiley InterScience and ScienceDirect respectively.

Online access to these publications helps students in their projects and further study.

Mr Eur Ing João Paulo Barbas Ponciano, dean and senior vice-president of PSB Academy, says: “PSB Academy is currently restructuring all online learning and teaching provisions to expand to an offering of full online learning for some of our modules. This will be complemented by a suite of integrated digital libraries for our students on essential learning resources. We also use plagiarism detection software, and for all our IP courses, we give students feedback online,” he adds.

The school is also in negotiations to use a third-party publisher to provide content, learning management and student learning monitoring.

“We are seeking to use modern software tools that facilitate synchronous and asynchronous delivery of classes. Such tools will allow more flexibility in students’ learning and preserve the feel and duty of care of tutor support which PSB Academy is proud of in its delivery of higher education,” he says.

Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) Global Education’s LMS, powered by the Desire2Learn learning environment, includes classroom recordings, online quizzes and access to digital textbooks for certain modules.

Part-time student Joycelyn Chew, 39, who is pursuing a Master of Business Administration awarded by the University of Birmingham, says: “SIM uses the traditional face-to-face delivery mode where the lecturers fly to Singapore from the United Kingdom to conduct lessons on campus over two weeks.”

Beyond this period, students can communicate with the lecturers over e-mail or Skype.

She also relies on the SIM library resource website, which gives her access to papers, journals and e-books.

“Without it, I probably would have to spend more time preparing for my assignments,” she says.

Kaplan Higher Education’s LMS serves as a portal for assignment research, submission and feedback and hosts an eLibrary of journals and other articles.

The institute is also progressively rolling out original interactive online supplementary materials for its diploma programmes, says Mr Christopher Harris (right), head of school of diploma studies and senior director of industry relations. This proprietary content was custombuilt and adapted from “traditional” curriculum.

“This blended learning approach is to enable working adults to have better access to rigorous, dynamic course content and allow them to balance their work life with their academic workload,” he adds.

Former Kaplan student Sarah Aw, 29, who recently graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Management and International Business (Double Major) awarded by Murdoch University, says: “Technology is an integral part of school life. It supports the core activities within the school curriculum such as communication, logistics planning, information sharing and research studies.”

Technology bridges geographical boundaries, promotes communication and the sharing of information in various formats, says Ms Mullaikodi Vaithilingam, head of school (school of technology), MDIS.

“These days, learners are well-versed in the use of smartphones, text messaging and using the Internet, so participating in, and running an online course, has become a simple affair.

“Message boards, social media and various other means of online communication allow learners to keep in touch and discuss course-related matters (among themselves and with professors) while providing for a sense of community,” she adds.

Beyond learning, schools have introduced other ways to enhance the student experience. For example, Kaplan enables online payments, electronic contracts and easy access to class schedules via a mobile web application, says the institute’s IT director, Mr Phani Vemuri.

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Article by Meredith Woo
Source: MyPaper© Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.