Online Distance Learning (ODL) traditionally defined as the geographically separated students.

The distance education is traditionally defined as any educational or learning procedure in which the teachers and the students are separated geographically and there is also no interaction between students.

Distance learning, also called the distance education, or e-learning, is an online learning form of education in which the main elements include physical separation of teachers and students during instruction and the use of various technologies to facilitate student-teacher and student-student communication.

Among the strengths of distance learning is the fact that they really provide easier access to course resources and offer greater convenience for the teacher and learner and offer flexibility in scheduling.

A recent global student survey by indicated that 78 per cent of tertiary students in Malaysia prefer online learning if it means cheaper fees rather than conventional face-to-face sessions.

Generally, e-learning requires 40 to 60 per cent less time to learn compared with a traditional classroom setting. The greatest of the challenges faced by a teacher to carry their responsibilities are knowing their students well as well as understanding the different learning abilities and capacities of the students.

It requires motivating and encouraging them when the students underperform and have to deal with parental and peer pressure.

Here are some of the most common challenges students are currently facing with online classes such as Distractions Everywhere, Staying Motivated, Technical Issues, Some Students Being Left Behind and Diminished Social Aspects.

Besides students, instructors and teachers are also facing such a problem in ‘navigating’ these students such as passive students, staying connected with students and encouraging collaboration among students.


As mentioned above, the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) is a way of learning remotely without being in regular face-to-face contact with instructor in the classroom. ODL at UTM offers a new way of combining innovative learning and teaching techniques with interaction with lecturer and students from around the world.

The UTM ODL programmes offer learning delivery completely online.  Online courses offer students the flexibility of studying from anywhere and at any time over the Internet.

The ODL programmes in UTM are currently being put under the School of Postgraduate Studies (SPS) with three post-graduate level courses offered to those interested.  The courses offered namely Master of Forensic Engineering, Master of Education (Educational Technology) and Master of Business Administration (MBA).

The Master of Education (Educational Technology) focuses on ICT skills for improved performance and how to successfully integrate technology in the curriculum while Master of Forensic Engineering aims to integrate and generate an advanced and in-depth knowledge in specific field of forensic engineering in professional practices.

The MBA programme was designed to develop managerial leaders who have a deep knowledge in sustainability organization management style in diversion to diverse stakeholders’ interests. 

This programme was also created to provide the future leaders who posses strategic thinking ability and leadership qualities to steer organization towards change and developments.

The UTM ODL programme is only about one and the half year old (three semesters) which requires much more improvements.  The three courses mentioned above are also available in the face-to-face mode.

Although offering the same courses in the conventional approach, the delivery of ODL programmes needs to be different and this is where teachers need to be more creative and “be willing” to introduce new approaches.

The teaching techniques of adult students (around 25-50 years of age) should also be different from those of undergraduate students. Lecturers who teach ODL need to be provided with the knowledge and skills to teach adult students, and the need to have interpersonal skills and skills to give effective feedback online.

Those needs have to be mastered by the ODL instructor. Thus, not all instructors are qualified to teach ODL despite having years of teaching skills.

Open & Distance Learning Platform

The official learning platform of UTM ODL programmes is for students and lecturers.

The Moodle application is used as the Learning Management System (LMS) for all courses offered under ODL mode. This LMS platform enables smooth course administration, delivery and management between lecturers, students and course administrators.

Active students will be provided with a user ID and password to access this system. Courses registered by active students will appear at their dashboard automatically for the online learning process.

Why it has to be UTM ODL programmes?

Most universities in Malaysia and the world are aware of the importance of ODL and want to ensure that the target group consists of professionals and those who are working and having a family can continue their studies.

However, to ensure the continuity of ODL offerings in UTM, the instructors/lecturers are very careful and always conduct research in teaching ODL so that these teachers can continue to make improvements in teaching and provide a better learning experience to students.

UTM instructors are scholarly teachers in which they teach and learn continuously to improve and ensure the continuity of the program offerings.  The UTM ODL programmes can be viewed at

The online session of Master of Education (Educational Technology) students and their instructor, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Zaleha Abdullah from the School of Education, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, UTM Johor Bahru. The Online Distance Learning (ODL) is the latest method of teaching and learning to be implemented especially in the period of worldwide pandemic of COVID-19.
One of the slides presented during the ODL teaching and learning session of Master of Education (Educational Technology). Slide was presented by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Zaleha Abdullah from School of Education, FSSH UTM Johor Bahru.