I can understand his frustration.
I graduated from UniSIM last year and I was a part-time student. I am certain UniSIM "graduates" could relate to the same experience that I had.
My experience with UniSIM is horrible. I can finally understand why Ministry of Education dropped UniSIM as one of its preferred adult-learning institutions and pushed for other schools such as SIT and SUTD. I cannot fathom why MOE would even bother with UniSIM in the first place, and why should our learned Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong even name UniSIM in his National Day Rally.
UniSIM began advocating e-learning in the last two years as part of its andragogy strategy since it figured that its part-time students were working adults. By this logic, they figured that adults were motivated to self-learn and preached the idea that adult students do not need to attend as many classes as youngster would. The school used to have 6 face-to-face mass lectures per study unit with 1 lesson each week. Each lecture lasted 3 hours. With this new andragogy strategy, F2F lectures were cut to 3 with 1 lesson every 2 weeks. Students were expected to self-study and raise questions during F2F questions. As part of e-learning strategy, lecturers will also record a video recording of themselves to discuss topics in the study unit. Students were encouraged to e-mail their lecturer any questions about the course.
I was part of the cohort that witnessed the gradual transition from 6 lectures to 3 lectures. Under the old system, each lecture was more in-depth as lecturers were able to explain theories and share real-life examples of these theories in practice. There were increased interaction in class as well as ample time for Q & A sessions which often give students much to ponder about. Classes were more organised and enjoyable.
IMHO, the transition was a disaster. Under the new system, I had lecturers who were unable to complete their course, or lecturers simply giving up on the new system. They would simply draft their slides in simple bullet points, go through the motions and dismiss the class by 9 pm instead of the usual 10 pm. Some lecturers admitted they have no idea what the school was trying to achieve apart from increasing its earnings. Class attendance dwindled. Students were encouraged to write in to lecturers but most of them never respond timely anyway - 3 to 4 days to respond to an e-mail is way too much time.
I also question the standard of the lecturers. There was one memorable Human Resource lecturer who spent 60 minutes preaching the goodness and foresight of Lee Kuan Yew which is not relevant to the study unit. He also praised NTUC/PAP/UNION tripartite relationship, and during the subsequent class, he spent 60 minutes talking about labour relationship and how PAP/NTUC incestuous relationship contributed to the success of Singapore, and his love for LKY was brought up again. I left the class during the break and I later found out almost half the class left. I felt like slapping this lecturer because I came to a "university" to learn and grasp new ideas towards certain issues, I wanted to hear new ideas about certain systems and theories, not to hear his devotion to LKY and PAP.
Most of the lecturers I knew were part-timers. I am fine with that but when I realised that some of them are full-time civil servants, I was flabbergasted. Some of them openly state they were civil servants but some were evasive. I googled their names and found them in government directory listings holding good positions such as Assistant Directors in Ministries and Statuary Boards! And you sometimes wonder why government policies these days are in a mess. It is difficult to imagine high paying civil servants in policy making teaching part-time in UniSIM. Are they able to concentrate at work when they know they have to prepare lecture slides, respond to student e-mails and 3,000-word essays to mark? Are they being unfair to taxpayers? Or are they being unfair to UniSIM students? Can Mr Teo Chee Hean comment on this?
I hope UniSIM graduates, current students or potential students who read my rant would respond. Maybe then I will follow up with another post.