Student-led DYOM modules included “The Art and Science of Photography” (above), “Dialects in Singapore: Hokkien”, and “The Chemistry of Food”.

Two and a half years after the official inauguration of NUS’ Design-Your-Own-Module (DYOM) initiative for undergraduates, the initiative has gained traction and was honoured at the prestigious Times Higher Education (THE) Awards Asia 2021, widely known as the “Oscars” of higher education.

NUS clinched the award for “Teaching and Learning Strategy of the Year”, for the DYOM programme that leverages technology to encourage more independent, self-directed learning among students.

In a statement accompanying the Awards announcement, THE applauded the programme for putting students “at the wheel of their own learning”.

Empowering self-directed learners

Launched in August 2019, the DYOM programme is composed of two tracks, with the option for students to use eight unrestricted elective module credits either in a group or individually.

The programme uses a low-risk “completed satisfactorily” or “completed unsatisfactorily” grading system that gives students the freedom for genuine learning and intellectual exploration without worrying excessively about grades. It instils independence and critical thinking in students and cultivates a knowledge of how to learn that will serve them well as lifelong learners.

One track in the DYOM programme connects students to more than 2,000 massive open online courses (MOOCs) on the edX platform via the NUS learning management system, giving them immediate access to a wealth of expertise from lecturers and academics around the world. These include those from industry-leading companies and top universities such as Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Tsinghua University and Kyoto University.

One of the MOOCs offered by NUS was “Data Science for Construction, Architecture and Engineering”, conducted by Assistant Professor Clayton Miller from the School of Design and Environment (now the College of Design and Engineering)’s Department of Building.

The second DYOM track allows students to organise into groups of 10 or more and work closely with a mentor—an NUS faculty member, administrative staff member or industry leader—to create their own modules with hands-on learning experiences in a vast array of subjects and disciplines, including fintech, urban sustainability, fine arts, and more.

The programme not only develops critical skills such as teamwork, communication and flexibility, but offers students the option of pursuing holistic interests outside of their disciplines, the opportunity for multidisciplinary work and an avenue for independent experiential learning.

Students have seized the opportunity, leading modules including “The Art and Science of Photography”, “Dialects in Singapore: Hokkien”, and “The Chemistry of Food”.

Undergraduates have also designed initiatives to promote recycling and save the earth.

Popular with students

Since its inauguration, the DYOM scheme has proven popular with students, a testament to the quality of the innovative, enriching learning experience that it supplies. More than 1,800 students completed MOOCs under one option of the programme in 2020, and the number of groups designing their own module with an NUS mentor doubled from eight in December 2019 to 16 in 2020. In total, more than 800 students have benefited from this option.

“It is incredibly heartening for the DYOM programme to have received international and regional recognition so soon after its inception,” said Associate Professor Erle Lim, Vice Provost (Teaching Innovation & Quality). An avid proponent of empowering students and encouraging them to view learning as a self-driven, lifelong endeavour, Assoc Prof Lim has been driving the DYOM and edX programmes, among others.

“The award affirms the effort we have invested into cultivating future generations of future-ready learners, as well as leveraging technology to facilitate flexible, independent learning,” he added. “We aspire to take the programme to greater heights so that more students can benefit from this groundbreaking educational experience.”

The DYOM programme has also received strong and continued support from NUS Senior Deputy President and Provost Professor Ho Teck Hua, the proponent of the initiative. The success is also due in large part to the NUS mentors who have led the students to create their modules, as well as the students themselves for taking the initiative to participate and craft their own educational journeys.

Celebrating educational excellence

The THE Awards, first launched in the United Kingdom in 2005 and undergoing the third iteration of its Asian edition, shines a spotlight on extraordinary educational accomplishments by universities, teams and individuals. It offers a major international platform to honour resourceful institutions which have overcome challenging circumstances to deliver first-class educational experiences.

“It was a genuine privilege to immerse ourselves in these first-hand reports from all corners of the continent, detailing how universities responded speedily and ingeniously, deploying their resources to support students, staff and local communities through a crisis and to help point the way out,” Mr Phil Baty, Chief Knowledge Officer at THE, said in his address at the awards ceremony, which took place in London on 14 Dec and was webcasted simultaneously worldwide.

“Those featured have ensured that higher education has continued to thrive and deliver over the past 18 turbulent months, and we know that they will also be central to the recovery and future development of societies and economies,” he added.

Poll Everywhere is a type of Classroom or Learner Response System (LRS) that allows you to ask various types of questions to students to identify gaps in their understanding and to get students to feedback and contribute ideas. Poll Everywhere can be directly run from the website or be integrated with PowerPoint, Keynote or Google Slides for it to be used seamlessly during lectures. It can be used in all  these learning types: face-to-face, online, and hybrid (face-to-face on campus and online off campus sessions happening simultaneously).

CIT will be conducting a seminar on Poll Everywhere to provide a general overview on how to use Poll Everywhere to create various questions (single/multiple MCQ, word cloud, clickable image, open-ended response, and ranking) as well as the Q&A activity type which can be used to collect questions from participants. We will also be discussing how you can match the responses to the students. In addition, we will also look at the type of reports that can be generated using Poll Everywhere.

You will get to see how this tool can be used from a teacher’s perspective and also experience using the tool from the students’ perspectives. This seminar will be conducted in Zoom, so you will also be able to experience how this tool can be used during online or hybrid teaching.

Recording of the sessions will be put in CIT website (http://cit.nus.edu.sg/poll-everywhere/) after the session.

Poll Everywhere Session Dates

No registration is required  You may feel free to join any of the session on your preferred date.

Session 1:
Date: 11 January 2022 (Tuesday)
Time: 10.30am - 11.30am
Join Zoom Session: https://nus-sg.zoom.us/j/81132546972?pwd=YUJlZGRvYisyM0h5c1VyaHRSclZnZz09
Meeting ID: 811 3254 6972
Passcode: 444199

Session 2:
Date: 13 January 2022 (Thursday)
Time: 10.30am - 11.30am
Join Zoom Session: https://nus-sg.zoom.us/j/88446580673?pwd=Qkc5YXJFL0M0QmtFcDN4QTRJWkJUZz09
Meeting ID: 884 4658 0673
Passcode: 949716

Times Higher Education (THE) Awards Asia 2021 winners were announced during a virtual ceremony on 14 December 2021. National University of Singapore’s (NUS) “Design-Your-Own-Module (DYOM)” programme has been awarded 'Teaching and Learning Strategy of the Year'.

This award recognises a teaching and learning strategy that is distinctive and innovative, has enhanced both the student and staff experience, and reflects an institution’s core values. (Source)

You may view the details of the winning entry here.

We would like to congratulate the winners of the inaugural geNiUSchannel and geNiUSbooks competition 2021. The winning entries leveraged on the technologies provided by geNiUSchannel and geNiUSbooks to convey subjects and topics in an interesting and rich multimedia format that kept our users engaged. We would also like to thank our jury panel of painstakingly going through the entries to identify the winners despite their busy schedule.
The award ceremony for the inaugural geNiUSchannel and geNiUSbooks competition 2021 can be viewed here.