Malaysia is situated in the Southeastern Asia, peninsula bordering Thailand and northern one-third of the island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia, Brunei, and the South China Sea, south of Vietnam. Malaysia is knows as a multiethnic society: among a total population of 24,821,286, 67.5% are comprised of Malay and indigenous, 23.7% Chinese, 7.1% Indian and 7.8 others. Also, Malaysia is a multilingual society where Malaysia, English, Chinese, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai and many other minority languages are spoken. Open distance education in Malaysia has been rapidly developed because of the government attempt in establishing information-rich society and a knowledge-based economy in recent years. Thanks to the advancement of networking technologies, ODE courses and programs have continued to grow in local higher education centers. Distance education in Malaysia started off with correspondence schools Private institutions like Stanford College, Raffles College, Malaysian Correspondence College, Adabi College and Federal College offered correspondence courses. Some of these continue to operate up to now.
Malaysia's country profile
In Malaysia, basic education consists of at least nine years: six years primary (ages 7-12) and three years lower secondary (ages 13-15). Then there are two years upper secondary (ages 16-17) and two years post-secondary (ages 17-18) before continuing at tertiary level. There are three types of primary schools: the national schools using Malay, the national-type Chinese schools using Chinese language, and the national-type Tamil school using Tamil language as the medium of instruction. For all secondary to tertiary education, the language of instruction is Malay.
In upper secondary education, the students are classified into academic, technical or vocational schools. At the post-secondary level, students have several options; they can choose to enter matriculation or sixth form classes, enter teacher training colleges, apply for certificate/diploma programs in polytechnics/universities, or they may join the workforce (Saleh, 1998: 46).
Today the Malaysian education system is a successful one, responding to the demands for equity among the different ethnic groups as well as the needs of a rapidly developing economy. For more details, visit 
Distance Education in Malaysia
Open and distanc learning consists of a flexible learning phrase in which the learner is in charge of his or her own learning and development. It not only tries to remove barriers that prevent attendance, but it also suggests a learner-centered philosophy. One reason for the advancement of open and distance education in Malaysia is the perceived inequality in opportunities for higher eduation between working adults and full-time university students.When the National University of Science Malaysia (USM) was set up in 1969, it was conferred the unique distiction of offering courses for part-time students, besides peroviding courses for regular on-campus students. When USM pioneered distance education in the country in 1971, few Malaysians took advantage of this mode of learning.
Today, after 36 years, interest in distance learning has grown and its use has expanded in Malaysia. To establish socio-economical credibility, programmes offered through the distance education mode are similar to those available in the formal public university education system. However, course delivery, is tailored to suit the demands of the home-based learner.
In 1999, a new private university, Open University Malaysia (OUM), was established to co-ordinate the open and distance learning programmes of all 11 local public universities in the country.
Such developments are partly in recognition of the need to provide greater opportunity for more adult students to pursue programmes of study leading to the award of an appropriate qualification of their choice. Using the growth rate of student enrolment in Malaysia as an indication, educational growth inspired by distance education has been significant (Dhanarajan, 1990).
School Profile of Open University Malaysia (OUM)
Open University Malaysia (OU Malaysia) was established in August 2000 under the Private Higher Education Act 1996. OUM is the largest Open and Distance Learning institution in Malaysia with over 50,000 students. By 2010, the Open University of Malaysia (OUM) intends to achieve the status of a mega university with an enrolment of more than 100,000 students.
OUM are currently offering all degree programmes via the hybrid and blended mode, respectively. Each icorporates the use of eLearning. Learners study from home and attend tutorials at learning centers in over 36 locations throughout the nation. For more details, visit 
In addition, a growing number of public and private universities throughout the nation are employing eLearning methodologies either to offer academic programmes via distance or to support their full-time on-campus learners (OUM, 2004). Currently, there are 11 public universities, 4 university colleges, 18 private universities and over 600 private colleges in the country. With the increase in the demand for higher education, many institutions in Malaysia have planned for eLearning.
OUM is set to create opportunities for Malaysians to fulfill their academic aspirations through our “education for all” concept, backed by the 11 public universities in the country.
OUM’s idea is to be a leader and innovator in open learning as follows:
- To be the leading contributor in democratizing education
- To develop quality education through multi mode learning technologies
- To develop and enhance learning experiences toward the development of a knowledge-based society
The learning methodology consists of self-managed learning, online learning, and face-to-face interaction.
OUM now has 53 Learning Centers throughout Malaysia. The Learning Centers are managed by team of administrators. OUM’s Learning Centers are fully equipped with tutorial rooms, computer laboratories, library and Internet facilities as part of the learning environment infrastructure.
Objective of OUM
The main objective for the establishment of OUM is to democratize education, by which education should be made accessible and available to all.They are offering a second chance to people from various jobs to pursue an academic qualification.
- To be the leading contributor in democratising education
- To develop quality education through multimode learning technologies
- To develop and enhance learning experiences towards the development of a knowledge-based society
Methodology & Use of Media
Malaysia has a good communication infrastructure for distance education in terms of print materials, radio and television broadcasts, telephone, postal services and telecommunications.
Regarding teaching and learning, the OUM utilises the blended approach that combines printed learning materials as the main learning resource supplemented by face-to-face interactions at regional centres and online learning through specially designed the Learning Management System (self-managed learning).
The three key areas of OUM:
- Learning Management System (myLMS, myMail, myProfile, myLibrary, and Learner Conexxions)
- Open & Distance Learning Pedagogy Centre
- Centre for Quality Management and Research & Innovation
An online LMS called myLMS is a supplementary mechanism. As a virtual classroom, learners are using myLMS. They can download reading resources and involve in a synchronous (chat) and asynchronous forum. As the asynchronous forum, crucial discussion topics are posed and discussed in a MUST discussion forum. As another way of online technology, E-testing is used to improve effectiveness and efficiency in ODL (Jung, 2005).
For more details, visit
Impacts of OUM
The distance mode provides opportunity to all those who are unable to pursue their higher education through traditional system by widening access to higher education. It is argued that the distance educational system has an upper hand to traditional education system because it allows educationists to reach a wider student audience, meet the needs of students who are unable to attend classes, link students from different social, cultural and experiential background, allow self-paced learning, provide innovative and flexible cost-effective education and provide learning materials that are self-explanatory, user friendly and appropriate for target group.
Education plays a crucial role in developing human capital and becomes a critical success factor in shifting the economy towards a k-based economy. Education increases the knowledge, skills and competencies of individual workers, allowing them to accomplish particular tasks better and to adapt more easily to changing job requirements.
Since OUM has an enrollment exceeding 50,000, OUM serves as a very important opportunity to increase knowledge among the Malaysian workforce. OUM has not only been worth for the local population but also for attracting foreign students whose fees boost the economy. OUM also provides the ideas of hope that the country can achieve its goal of democratizing higher education, making it accessible to the majority of the people.
Areas for Improvement
Higher Education Institutions in Malaysia are still at an infancy stage in the planning and implementing of eLearning. These include institutional support, course development, teaching/learning, course structure, student support, faculty support, evaluation and assessment.
1) A lack of a strategic plan for learning.
Planning of ICT for teaching and learning, course development, course structure and assessment is yet to be firmed. Some of the plans are still in the mind of the person responsible for managing the eLearning.
2)eLearning is sporadic.
Initially in some Higher Education Institutions, the approach was to convert the face-to-face lecture materials to digital content, where the lecturers suddenly found themselves forced to be involved in the writing of lecture notes to be digitized for online access without the help of experienced instructional designers. Most of the materials were merely information which can be considered as content. Instructional Design for eLearning is still new in the country.
2)eLearning leadership is new.
In most cases eLearning responsibility is given to the IT experts who are responsible t set up the infrastructure and to purchase or build and LMS. Education experts are often not consulted at the initial decision making stage. Thus, the approach to eLearning tends to be techbnocentric.
3)Lack of skills and experience among faculty members to use eLearning.
Involvements of academic staff in the development of eLearning vary from one institution to another. Developing courses by lecturers for on-line delivery is still an option in most institutions. Lectures are often reluctant to embark on the development project themselves, due to time constraints and lack of expertise in courseware authoring (Raja Maznah, 200a).
Ab.Rasid Mat Zin.1993.'The nationalcontext for distance education.'Distance Education in Asia and the Pacific: Country Papers. vol.1.pp.161-176.
Jung, insung.2005. Innovative and Good practices of Open and Distance Learning in Asia and the Pacific: A study commissioned by UNESCO. Bangkok.