What is online learning and why it’s not recognised by MQAChen Wan Lim
Online learning, as the name suggests, are courses that are predominantly conducted through the internet. Course interactions are done virtually and submissions of course materials are also done via the internet – students most often obtain degrees without even leaving the confines of their own homes. Before proceeding further, online learning in Malaysia should not be mistaken as distant learning which is common amongst open universities. Although distant learnings have online lectures and course materials, candidates are still required to be physically present for certain course functions at approved learnings centres across the country.
Currently, pure online learnings are not approved or recognised by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) as there are no proper guidelines established on the delivery method, effectiveness and quality. As such, degrees which are awarded via online learnings are currently not recognised in Malaysia. There are a few reasons why degrees awarded through pure online mediums are not recognised:
1. No proper guidelines, yet
The main reason why the MQA has not recognised any online degrees yet is that there are no proper guidelines to assess the quality of the courses offered. As online degrees take many forms, syllabus, delivery and structure, the quality of learning outcome and the ability of successful candidates to undertake a said role cannot be properly ascertained.
2. Susceptible to fraudulent conducts
There is essentially no way of telling if a student has actually completed the necessary course lectures or course assignments online. Also, there is no way of telling if the online assessment conducted is legitimate.
3. Degrees can easily be bought
Even if a student has endured two years of painstaking online lectures, assignments and tests, online degrees (from certain questionable institutions) can be easily bought for a sum of money and there are such cases which have happened.
4. Unproven quality
The whole purpose of getting accredited and recognised by bodies such as the MQA is to determine for sure that the education offered has met certain academic criteria and is of a certain standard. Also, the MQA’s accreditation serves as a guide for employers to know if a certain candidate is fit and thoroughly trained to undertake a job. As of now, there is no formal track record of student performance who has undertaken online degrees.
Having said that however, the government via the MQA in 2016 is developing a national policy on credit recognition for the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) platform. MOOCs are not new and have been practiced globally. However, no credit is given after the course is completed. Until such a time where the MQA formulates and completes the development of MOOCs national policy, candidates would still have to undertake the traditional route of obtaining their degrees via the physical classroom method.
Whatever the reasons may be, degrees which are obtained via physical learnings are arguably better than online learnings. The classroom environment enables students to develop a bond with their lecturers and peers and discussions can be conducted easily. In addition, peer interaction is part of the learning process where students learn leadership skills, learn to work together in groups and also to learn to resolve conflicts. Networking is also another reason why classroom degrees are better than online degrees.