Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Dec 2, 2008

Silver Medalist Richard Ng with his certificate and medal won at the AAOU 2008 International Conference in Tian Jin, China

MATHEMATICS might not be most people’s cup of tea but for Richard Ng of Open University Malaysia (OUM), it is his passion. Ng, who is the director of Perak Learning Centre, initiated a math project, which culminated in a research paper entitled E-Mathematics: Pre-instructional and Supplemental Instruction and their Impact on Students’ Online Participation and Final Exam Score.”

This paper was presented at an international conference recently and won a silver medal. He said the paper was conceived out of his love for math and the accolade was something that he had not anticipated. The conference which was organised by the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) in Tianjin, China, from Oct 14 to 16, attracted over 200 participants from Asian open and distance learning institutions. The highlight was the project paper presentation. This year, the gold medal went to China while the bronze medal went to South Korea. Calling it his pet project (which he started in August 2007), he said: “Math is not a complicated subject as perceived by many. I strongly feel that learners will be inspired when math is taught in a correct way.”

The silver medal won

“To put it in easier terms, this is all about learning and discussing math online. The learners go through two stages – T-Zero and Online Supplemental Instructions. “The first stage sees the usage of a special software to key in mathematical symbols to derive answers. “In the second stage, a method called Supplemental Instructions (SI) is teamed up with online learning.”

The certificate awarded to members of the project team

“SI which was pioneered by Deanna Martin in 1973 at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, applied to conventional learning through a coaching system. “Senior learners who are good at math, teach junior learners through specially arranged extra classes.

“I have tweaked the idea to enable online SI coordination. Though the fundamentals are the same, this is more flexible as the learners need not have face-to-face interaction,” he said.

For a start, the pilot project involves learners from the OUM Perak Learning Centre. The response has been encouraging. “We have roped in learners with math proficiency to be mentors to their junior course mates.

“A significant outcome is that the barriers caused by inferiority complex have been greatly reduced.

The write-up as appeared in the Sun paper on Dec 2, 2008 pg 20

“I am glad to see an increase in learners’ online involvement and activities,” said Ng who specialises in Math, E-Commerce and Marketing.

“I believe this format will help learners comprehend math in a fun way. Learners will be trained on software usage, ways of typing mathematical symbols and how to post and answer questions online. “They can turn to their mentors and tutors for guidance along the way. Research has it that collaborative learning has a significant impact on study excellence.

“This will prevent learners from dropping out of their programme, thus helping OUM to increase its retention rate.”

Ng feels OUM needs to continuously enhance its online capacity to make learning attractive to learners.

“OUM is a viable option for many working people who want to further their studies while working. “OUM shoulders a huge responsibility to make learning less stressful in a creative way.”

Details, call 03- 2773 2002, e-mail enquiries@oum.edu.my or log on to www.oum.edu.my