Today, we live in a world where change is constant and occurs at a rapid speed. Accepting change depends on the ability to combine and integrate current technological advances into the workplace, and this is no exception for education institutions. An unfortunate reality, however, is that the current education system and syllabuses require a long process to change, and is not in tandem with the growth of technology.

 

One way to circumvent this is to equip teachers with the tools required to use technology while they teach . One such method is blended learning, a formal education programme where a teacher combines online learning with conventional study methods, thus providing students control over the time, place and pace of learning.

In line with strategies underlined in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education), INTI International University & Colleges (INTI) recognises that blended learning models will be a staple pedagogical approach . INTI has embraced blended learning since 2014, and continues to see proof that blended learning works, with the inclusion of online programmes for working professionals.

To spur its teaching staff to embrace the Digital Age, INTI created the INTI Teaching Innovation Award to encourage its faculty members to use innovative practices in technology to create better outcomes for their students. The award recognises academicians who produce high quality blended learning modules and delivery, improve the level of student engagement, create positive impact on students and learning, and demonstrate innovation and creativity. This award is held bi-annually and recipients receive a sum of RM600.00 and a Certificate of Appreciation.

To win, applicants must exhibit evidence that they have seamlessly integrated between face to face learning and online learning, show effective outcomes of their teaching methods, prove that their innovative lessons led to better student grades or had a higher participation of learners, along with the usage of tools such as gamification apps, simulations or augmented reality.

“INTI has always pushed the boundary for learning, and one way of demonstrating this is to embrace digital pedagogy,” shared Dr Malini Eliatamby, INTI’s Chief Academic Officer. “It is necessary to have a robust professional development programme that is designed to equip faculty members with the relevant skills.

 

“To motivate and recognise excellence in digital teaching and learning and innovative practices, we created the INTI Teaching Innovation Award for outstanding academicians. We want to motivate faculty members to go beyond being mere facilitators of knowledge; they themselves should be eager seekers of new knowledge by embracing the Digital Age so that both academicians and students can have a common ground to acquire and apply new knowledge.”

In the first half of 2018, three winners emerged from INTI International College Subang, another three winners from INTI International University, and four winners from INTI International College Penang. The academicians represented various faculties, including Hospitality, Engineering and Quantity Surveying, Health and Life Sciences, and Business and Communication. They were:

1. Sabrina bt Mohd Hashim
2. Christina Rathy a/p Anthony Samy
3. Andrew Ho
4. Zuraidah Harith
5. Intan Syafinaz Mohd Rozee
6. Dr Ho Soo Min
7. Lim Sheue Hui
8. Yuzrem Ezri Mohd Yunus
9. Christine Khoo
10. Wong Teik Aun

Subsequent to the awards, INTI also held its first Digital Academic Conference with theme “Innovative Learning in The 4th Industrial Revolution”, where all faculty members from INTI’s six campuses in Nilai, Subang Jaya, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Sabah spent a day attending a conference digitally. A live stream was aired at all campuses while conference speakers shared their insights virtually.

Dr Eliatamby explained the rational for the Digital Academic Conference, “This is in line with the digital transformation which we undertook since 2014, when we transitioned to blended learning in all courses. Since then we have implemented fully online General Education Subjects (Mata Pelajaran Pengajian Umum), a pre-university qualification for private universities in Malaysia, online assessments and more recently, the drive towards the innovative use of Analytics.

“It is apt that we now embark on a Digital Academic Conference and utilise our resources to learn from one another, while we are connected online. This will create awareness on digital disruption and how it impacts education, while we also highlight innovative teaching and learning practices that leverage on technology. The outcome of the Digital Academic Conference is to equip our faculty members with best practices to implement in the classroom and useful principles that can be applied to enhance students’ learning outcomes.”

The conference topics and speakers included “The Future of Education – The China Experience” by Mr. Tan Yew Sing, co-founder of INTI Education Group; “The Future of Artificial Intelligence, Technology, and Employment Trends” by Mr. Thillai Raj T. Ramanathan, Chief Technology Officer of MIMOS; “Digital Disruptions: The Skills Wanted Now and in the Future” by Mr. Jon Day, Head of Marketing of Google Malaysia; and “Innovating Learning – What the Future Holds and the Power of Augmented and Virtual Reality in Education” by Mr. Amit Pawar, Devices Solutions Specialist of Microsoft Asia Pacific (APAC). The speakers shared their experiences and expectations in the Digital Age, and highlighted the role that education would play in the fourth industrial revolution.

The conference also included a panel discussion between INTI students, Mr Ramanathan, Mr. Day and Mr. Pawar on how higher learning institutions, students and industry players can work together to prepare for the workforce of the future. Faculty members then attended several sessions to learn from their fellow colleagues who shared about their unique digital teaching experiences throughout the year.