Microsoft 365 with 5 free software license and 1TB of storage

For some years now, since 2016 to be exact, UM community have been given access to Microsoft Office 365 Education license that comes with 1TB of online storage and 5 free Office download licenses. 1 TB is a significant amount as most of your standard office PC has less storage and most modern laptops with SSD drive did not have similar storage space.

The 365 account can be accessed by logging in through and typing in your UM username followed by (e.g. The password is your normal ummail password.

We have created a short video showing the steps to login into your UM’s Microsoft 365 account and the button to click to download and install the free Office 365 suite into your PC or laptop. Remember you have 5 license allocation to use!

Using the Office 365 online allows you to create and share documents with your work colleagues and students who also have access to the same full software. You can collaborate in the same word, excel, powerpoint and other documents across faculties and department online.

You can also share document with your students (or they share theirs!) online in real time allowing you see their learning take shape and for you to be able to give meaningful and timely feedback to them, even before they submit their work formally to you.

ADeC have been conducting training on maximising the use of the Microsoft 365 account to educators and there are more training sessions planned for the future. Do keep a lookout on ADeC’s training announcements uminfolist.

In later posts, we will share how you could use Office Sharepoint to collaborate on work at the departmental and faculty level, as well as manage your postgraduate students or research group using the Office Teams.

Guideline for Learning Space Projects


The University of Malaya being the renown university in Malaysia and well known internationally is striving for improvement in the quality of teaching and learning. With the implemention of Malaysian Qualification Framework (MQF) that requires Outcome-based Education system to be employed, the traditional teaching and learning practice must also transform from teacher-centred to student-centred. High impact teaching and learning practices like case-based, problem-based, project-based, intergrated design and many others demands normal classroom setting to be changed from the traditional to a learning space that can cater for LEARNING TO OCCUR.

In line with the above intention, University of Malaya is continuously making a serious effort in providing teaching and learning space conducive for student-centred learning / high impact teaching and learning practices of takes place. The Management committee has agreed that all faculties / centres/ academy must comply to learning space (student-centred) criteria for any renovation work since 2012. The management commitment on this matter was further reinforced with the renovation of classroom into ‘TheCUBE’ project in 2012 in several faculties. Acknowledging that faculty members need to be made aware on the potential use of the CUBE in improving students learning and lecturers teaching quality, the Deputy Vice Chancellor Office has decided to initiate another initiative focusing on the effective use of the existing CUBEs or other learning spaces for its intended purposes.

References on Learning Space Concept / Criteria

What is Learning Space

“We spend a lot of time trying to change people. The thing to do is to change the environment and people will change themselves.”
Les Watson, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Glasgow Caledonian University

Classrooms are learning space, libraries are learning space, common areas within a university campus has the potential to be part of the learning space.

There is a big body of knowledge in the effects of classroom design and environment towards student learning. Generally, design of a good learning space affects student motivation and promote learning as an activity, supports collaborative learning, provides a mixture of personalised and inclusive environment, and be flexible to support reconfiguration in real-time and future-proof.

Learning spaces are divided into several categories.

  • Formal learning space

These are the classrooms, interactive classrooms, laboratories, seminar rooms, tutorial rooms and lecture theaters.

  • Informal learning space

Informal learning space can range from student lounges, libraries, faculty lobby, common rooms, cafeterias and other area adjacent to the formal learning spaces.

  • Virtual learning space

The LMS (SPeCTRUM), other online resources (e.g. Google docs, Office 365, Khan Academy, MOOC etc) and social networking space where students collaborate are classed as virtual learning space.

The demand for ROI in the capital expenditure for public buildings suggests that any investment in the learning space should support all the above mentioned goals and at the same time be creative and enterprising to inspire both learners and teachers.

Learning Space Principles

The design and development of a good learning space should adhere to several key principles. Answering to the objectives of any one of the listed principle will guide and influence how the space will be designed. The designer will need to understand and reflect on how these principles affect their spaces.

  • Learning First
  • Flexible spaces to encourage innovation
  • Support for collaborative work practices
  • Facilitate capture for archive and reflection

Criteria for Learning Space to support collaborative learning/flipped classroom

“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” Anon

Future learning space design should cater to the change in learning for the 21st century. There are a multitude of new technology and novel pedagogical approaches that was non-existent just a few years ago. The internet, readily available learning resources online, mobile devices, smartboards, LMS, MOOCs and social networking, coupled with fast wired and wireless broadband connections is changing the experience and expectation of learners.

The prevailing teaching space design has been teacher focussed. The one-way facing rooms where the lecturer stands in-front and learners faces the lecturer. Technology exist as a way to enhance this but the potential to change the dynamic of the classroom to take into account collaborative learning and flipped classroom have never realised.

“We need to start, then, by asking not ‘what buildings do we want?’ but instead ‘what sort of education do we want to see in future?’. ​

We need to ask not ‘how many classrooms do we need?’ but ‘what sorts of learning relationships do we want to foster? What competencies do we want learners to develop? What tools and resources are available to us to support learning?’” ​

Rudd et al 2006

There are several space types that can be chosen for formal and informal learning spaces. A concise reference to this together with working examples and pictures can be found in this LINK. These are among others:-

  1. Booths
  2. Group study
  3. Media production
  4. Branstorming Space
  5. Learning commons
  6. Research commons
  7. Connective Space

The criteria for new Learning Space development in UM or any university should be centred around maximising the potential of using these spaces to support collaborative/interactive learning and flipped classroom.

Baseline Criteria

Stakeholder engagement

Key stakeholder engagement is vital during the planning of the project. These are the owners, users (both learners and educators), instructional designers, educational expert, design professionals, facility managers and other relevant parties.

Room requirements

The room for learning space must be well lit (minimum 500 lux) and equipped with dimmer switches for projection screen if installed. There were too many instances when the projector set-up and design was done as an afterthought after the building is finished, under a separate furniture and technology contract. In fact, for a learning space, all the elements within the space should be designed together so that the stated principles mentioned above may be achieved.

Room temperature must be controllable between 20° – 26° celsius during operational hours.


Passive acoustic measures are designed to provide comfortable listening environment even when no audio amplification technology is used. Audio technology is used and designed only when there is a clear use for it based on the curriculum or pedagogical model that is intended for the space.

Network performance

The wired or wireless broadband connection must cover all users with enough connection speed for all users simultaneous usage. The network should be able to support streaming of HD videos.

Wireless access points must be enough to cater for simultaneous access for all room occupants. Upscaling capability for the network to support higher broadband capability and telepresence in the future should be considered.

Furniture design

Majority of tables/desks must be reconfigurable and easily moveable by a single person. Stackable furniture design is encouraged to facilitate storage and rooms reconfiguration. Integration of the furniture with power points location should also be considered.

Power requirements

Power points must be provided to cater for at least 30% of the room occupants, apart from the power for all electrical equipments to be used and installed in the room during formal learning sessions.

Monitors and projection devices

Connection to projection devices should be wireless ready, accessible via the local wireless connection or bluetooth.

User access

Access to the learning spaces must be promoted and granted to all authorised student of the faculty outside of formal learning session. Online booking for the rooms must be initiated and the use of the rooms logged and reported to the faculty management.

Optional Requirements

  1. Space division
    • The learning space must be demonstrated to be able to be subdivided into several areas to support different pedagogical approach. As an example, this may be achieved with the use of panels, different colour carpeting or using the furnitures available in the learning space.
  2. Informal social interaction
    • The use of the learning space outside of formal learning hours should be allowed. Otherwise a learning commons that is situated near the formal learning spaces may be designed in unison.
  3. Demonstration area
    • Demonstration area allows a demonstrator to showcase their learning objects or for the learners to showcase their learning attainment. Subject to different disciplinary area, different design for affordance of technology for the demonstration area should be considered.
  4. Control console
    • All technology used in the room should be user friendly. User guides for equipment must be displayed at all times within the room. Preferably, computing and audio visual equipment must be controlled from a single central console within the rooms.
  5. Design partner and technology partner engagement
    • As universities sometimes are resource limited, third party technology partner can be attracted to contribute to equip the spaces with required furniture or necessary equipment.

Role of Academic PTj’s

“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.”

The academic PTj’s should empower their academic staff to explore the usage potential for the learning space for innovative learning approaches and educational and action research. They should also explore the potential for these spaces to support faculty community building and sustainable practices.

The bidders should incorporate and demonstrate sustainable energy usage into the room design and should aim for national or international sustainability certification.

  1. References

Active Learning Classrooms

Barrett, P., Davies, F., Zhang, Y., & Barrett, L. (2015). The impact of classroom design on pupils’ learning: Final results of a holistic, multi-level analysis. Building and Environment, 89, 118-133. doi:

Committee, J. I. S. (2006). Designing spaces for effective learning: A guide to 21st century learning space design. Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) on behalf of JISC. ​

Rudd T, Gifford C, Morrison J and Facer K (2006) What if…Re-imagining learning spaces. Futurelab: ​

World Economic Forum, 2016, January. The future of jobs: Employment, skills and workforce strategy for the fourth industrial revolution. In Global Challenge Insight Report, World Economic Forum, Geneva.​

Microcredentials on MOOC platforms


Micro-credential: certification of learning of a smaller set of courses or modules or units which are designed to provide learners with knowledge, skills, values and competencies in a narrow area of study and/or practice. 

MOOC: massive open online courses. a course of study that is made available over the internet and that can be followed by a large number of people. 

APEL: accreditation of prior experiential learning. identification, documentation and assessment of prior experiential learning to determine the extent to which an individual has achieved the desired learning outcomes, for access to a programme of study and/or award of credits 


Micro-credentials are mini qualifications often gained by participating in short, free or low-cost online courses. These smaller blocks of learning can formalise soft and hard skills attained at work, such as teamwork, critical thinking and problem solving. They can also help fill skill gaps, such as working with big data.  

Employees may consider them more advantageous than unaccredited and inhouse training which, while popular with employers, fail to offer formal recognition of learning that can enhance an individual’s career development. 

MC can be characterised as a buffet of several courses that is short and specific on a number of topics that is relevant to each other. A compilation of these courses can be grouped to achieve a wider skillset or count towards a number of credits for a university course. 

As an example, a learner can enrol for several level of language course and at the end of the program will receive a mastery certification on the language. 

Micro-credential courses  A ‘program’ certification
Introduction to Malay language Mastery of Malay language
Malay language intermediate
Malay language advanced
Malay language writing for academic

Or, the transfer of 3 academic credits that can form part of a postgraduate degree at an HEI. The following example is a current micro-credentialling program that is running on the Futurelearn platform by Purdue University. 

Micro-credential courses  A ‘program’ certification 
Digital Media Analytics:
Digital Media Analytics 
Digital Media Analytics:
Social Media Research Plans 
Digital Media Analytics:
Using Data from Owned Media 
Digital Media Analytics: Earned Media 
Digital Media Analytics: Paid Media 
Digital Media Analytics: Using ‘Listening Data’ 

A learner can enroll and study just relevant aspects from the MC course without completing the program. A learner can also opt to pay or not to pay for some or all of the certificates in the MC list.  

To achieve the credits required for the university course, an assessment element could be added at the end of all the programs certification framework.  

Nationally, MQA has issued a circular dated 6 May 2019 titled ‘Surat Makluman MQA Bil. 2/2019’ and with it an accompanying document ‘Panduan Pelaksanaan Program Micro-Credential (MC)’ that provides a guideline on the principles and good practices in the implementation of micro-credentials. 

The listed principles in the MQA guidelines are contained in section 5, and they are listed here:- 

  • Outcome-based 

Micro-credentials should articulate the overall MC and constituent module outcomes i.e., knowledge, skills, attitudes or competencies clearly and in a measurable manner. The attainment of the outcomes should be demonstrated through suitable assessment methods and reported in a user-friendly manner. 

  • Personalised 

To the extent possible, the providers must design MCs which allow the learners to select units/modules/courses that cater to their needs, interests and work within the context of the overall objectives and approval of the MC. The mode of delivery, the pace of learning and assessment methods should be appropriately personalised for optimal learning. 

  • On-demand/industry driven 

Micro-credentials should be designed and delivered in response to demands of the learners or employers or industries for shorter and focused skill-sets, knowledge and technologies which are required for upskilling and reskilling of the workforce to be ready for the 4th industrial revolution or personal development. Engagement with industries and employers is crucial to ensure currency, relevancy and value of the MC. 

  • Secure and shareable 

The MCs should ideally be based on technologies that preserve the identity of the learners and protect the certifications from misuse or alterations to ensure user trust. The MCs should be shareable across social media platforms via email, blogs and resumes. 

  • Transparent 

The providers of MCs should furnish complete information on the units/modules/courses in a readable and easily accessible form covering course objectives, outcomes (knowledge, skills and attitudes), mode of delivery, hours of learning (if applicable), content, assessments, credits etc. to the learners and other authorised users for purposes of evaluation and recognition. 

  • Naming the Micro-credentials 

MCs offered by any HEPs should be appropriately named based on the purpose, delivery, content, assessment and scope. The titles should not in any way conflict with any qualification titles stipulated in the Malaysian Qualifications Framework 

The recognition of MC under this guideline can be in the form of a) Credit Transfer or b) APEL.  

At the EU level, a Common Microcredential Framework (CMF) was launched during the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) Summit in April 2019. The five points framework detailed the requirement for microcredential courses so that its capable or earning academic credit. They are listed below:- 

  • Have a total study time of no less than 100 hours and no more than 150 hours, including revision for, and completion of, the Summative Assessment. 
  • Be levelled at Level 6 or Level 7 in the European Qualification Framework or the equivalent levels in the university’s national qualification framework. 
  • Provide a summative assessment that enables the award of academic credit, either directly following successful completion of a microcredential or via recognition of priorlearning upon enrolment as a student on the university’s course of study. 
  • Operate a reliable method of ID verification at the point of assessment that complies with the university’s policies and/or is widely adopted across the platforms authorisedto use the CMF. 
  • Provide a transcript that sets out the learning outcomes for a microcredential, total study hours required, EQF level and number of credit points earned. 

Australian AQF is seriously looking at the issue of MC in its review and the publication in September 2019 will likely mention MC as part of the framework going forward. 

Potential of MC for UM: 

An MC program can be designed as a feeder to entry for a specific postgraduate course at the university. This has been done before at FOM where the course Essentials in Public Health was designed to equip the incoming postgraduate students which comes from overseas settings on the context of Malaysian healthcare system prior to join the Master program.   

Another option is to team up with relevant institution and offer a program certificate on a topic. This idea was floated by ADeC during the early stages of MOOC development. The university becomes the academic centre with the credibility to offer certification needed by the partner institution for upskilling purpose.  

As an example, Faculty of Languages could collaborate with Institut Terjemahan Negara Malaysia and offer a micro-credential program with certification on TV subtitling. Another idea example is a collaboration with professional bodies for example Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia and Faculty of Built Environment, and to offer certification program that will form part of a CPD requirement for building professionals. 


As part of the strategic move forward for the university, micro-credentialling will likely have a place in the offering of skills development that UM could be an active player in. The potential for collaboration is great, given our central location and our standings. The leveraging of existing MOAs will be key as well as opening up of new collaboration network. 


Letter from MQA dated 6 May 2019 titled ‘Surat Makluman MQA Bil. 2/2019’ And the accompanying document ‘Panduan Pelaksanaan Program Micro-Credential (MC)’

Digital Credentialing: Implications of Recognition Across Borders. UNESCO, 2018

SPeCTRUM V3 – Handling parallel courses with group settings

There might be small number of cases where a course with a single code being taught in parallel by different departments of different educators. The necessity for this type of courses may be due to a different language of instruction or different academic departments teaching their own set of students.

The SPeCTRUM LMS is equipped to handle this situation when and where it arises.

Overview of differentiated groups in parallel courses

Courses should be set-up with ‘Flexible sections format’ in the Course format and ‘Separate groups’ selected in the group mode, as shown in the following video.

From there, groups can be created and assigned to specific section within the shared SPeCTRUM page.
Students who belonged to a specific group/section will only be to access resources and activities within their section only. Other sections will be unavailable to them as shown in the following screenshot.

The students who belonged to ‘Jabatan A’ will only have access to the ‘Sumber Umum’ and ‘Jabatan A’ Section and all resources and activities there.

Separating course materials

When the Flexible section course format is used, educators can add subsections like they normally have done in the old platform. What’s better, the Section could be collapsed so that what the students sees within the platform is just the educators resources and activities only.
The video below shows the collapsed section in action.

The important thing is, once a Section is locked to a specific group, only members of that group will have access to it.

SPeCTRUM v3 – creating and managing groups

An important feature of the new system is the Program Based Structure by which for each course code, only a single course instance will be created. This is a departure from the old system where each academic gets a course even for team teaching.

The university have concluded that the Program Based Structure is more in-keeping with the Outcome Based Education and the Student Centered principles that serves as the base for UM’s pedagogical approach. All other internal process have adhered to this for example the use of a single pro-forma and a single exam question set for each course. It is high time that the learning management system reflects the greater university approach.

However, for courses that will still need differentiation for valid reasons, one way that could be managed is by using the groups and groupings feature in SPeCTRUM.

What are groups and groupings?

Groups: As the name suggest, you can group students within your class for them to work on a learning task in several groups.

Grouping: A grouping is a collection of groups within a course. Using groupings allows you to direct tasks at one or more groups in your course, so that they can work together on the tasks.[1]

Grouping example

  • You teach students in a course called ‘The Art of Language’.
  • Your students are divided into four groups, Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing, and for much of the course they work in these groups.
  • You wish the students to work on a project, exploring passive and active language. You create a grouping Passive Language and assign the Listening and Reading groups to this grouping. You create a grouping Active Language and assign the Speaking and Writing groups to this grouping.
  • Using the Restrict access feature you set certain tasks only for the Passive Language grouping and other tasks only for the Active Language grouping.
    Now the groups can work together, within their grouping, on their respective focus areas.
  • At the end of the project you can bring the groups together in an activity for all participants to share their learning.

For some courses, especially large ones like the university courses, groups have been pre-set by the coordinating PTj using the ISIS system.



Creating groups in SPeCTRUM

Please watch the video below to learn how to create groups for you class.

Groupings can be created together with the groups to allow for differentiated grouping when assigning several coursework. Watch the following video.

Working with groups to create group submission

After the groups have been created, you can use the ‘Students submit in groups’ for group submission inside the assignments module or any activities that allows group submission. This function is particularly useful because from one submission, you may mark all the group members together. Watch the video below to look at the settings.

Allocating access to specific groups

Resources can be made to appear or accessible only for specific groups. This function allows for differentiated facilitation within a course for special group of learner, or simply to break up tutorial resources for students with different instructors. Watch the video below.

Spectrum v3 update

As the campus community should have realised by now, we have introduced an updated SPeCTRUM platform this semester. This new platform is running alongside the older version which will cease operating in the coming semester.

New spectrum

For this semester, lecturers are encouraged to migrate to v3 (which we will simply call SPeCTRUM next semester) and use the new features available in the platform to enrich student’s blended learning experience.

The upgrade allows for better navigation on mobile devices (it called Responsive Web Design) as well as security and features update.

New features

We are introducing H5P that will be an addition to the assessment category. There are a selection of assessment activities that you could use formatively or summatively e.g. memory game, image pairing, drag and drop etc. There are currently 36 activities available in the H5P library! Do take the time to explore them and please tell us which do you like the most. Further information on H5P capabilities and features can be seen in

Instead of taking attendance manually on a sheet of paper, you can now save the environment by using the QR code attendance feature. Get the students to scan the codes using the UM Mobile app and use the scan feature to automatically mark their attendance. No more fake signatures after this.

The selection of course formats are expanded with the flexible section format, that allows the creation of subsections within the main section on the frontpage. Do try out this format to see whether it’ll help with better organisation of your course contents and activities.

Migration procedures

Migrating your course can’t be easier. First you need to login to the new platform using the CAS system similar to the old SPeCTRUM. Refer video below.

You should find that you have access to your current semester courses, along with the students that have registered for the course. We are giving you a blank slate to start from, but you still have the option to backup and restore courses from the old platform into the new one. The video below will show you how.

If you decide to migrate now, make sure that your students use the same SPeCTRUM v3 to access their learning contents. For this semester, the URL is

We will continue with more resources for you to successfully get on with the new SPeCTRUM before the mandatory switch next February.

Hello to ADeC’s blog page.

Welcome to the first page of ADeC’s blog. Here’s hoping for more postings in the near future on the activities of ADeC and the running of a small yet very influential centre in University of Malaya.

“Who lives sees, but who travels sees more.” ― Ibn Battuta

On a good starting note, we are happy to inform all campus community that we have made the move back into the thick of the action in UM campus. With this shift, the passionate educators of UM no longer have to fret about having no parking spaces when going for training at ADeC.

Our new office is situated at level 2 HIR building, above Bank Islam UM Branch. There is ample parking space next to the building as this was the old exam hall. Do pop in for a visit sometimes.

Our new office was conceptually designed as an open plan collaborative space by our own staff who has been involved in the design of UM’s new learning spaces. So when you come to our office, you can experience features of learning space look and feel incorporated in the office design. We still have our ILR room that we also brought over from Wisma R&D. Its a bit of rough and ready so far as we have not yet finished unpacking.

ADeC’s office can be contacted by this new number: 03-7967 7022. ext 2056

Our training programmes are now back at full swing. In the mean time do come and visit us!