Synchronous Online Discussion Forum for Postgraduate Study: A Case Study in Malaysia


  • Gurnam Kaur Sidhu
  • Jaslinder Kaur Param Jit Singh
  • Arieff Shamida
  • Gurcharan Singh Bishen Singh


Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0) has given a new impetus to educational transformation through a myriad of technological innovations in all aspects such as content, structure and overall management of education. Today the burgeoning of machine learning via flexible learning environments have witnessed synchronous online forums as a means to replace traditional face-to-face classroom interactions. This paper investigates the synchronous forum for postgraduate study in an open university in Malaysia. A total of 103 respondents responded to the questionnaire whilst 10 students were interviewed. Findings revealed that though a majority of the students held favorably views regarding synchronous online forum and their e-tutors, their participation was low due to time constraints, no reward for participation, lack of preparation and personal factors. There was also no significant difference in students’ views with regards to gender but significant differences were recorded for age, and ethnicity. A positive and significant correlation was found between synchronous forums and e-tutors. The mismatch of the quantitative and qualitative findings of this study imply that though e-learning is viewed as the way forward, institutions of higher learning need to address the many challenges faced by students so they are capable of functioning in tomorrow’s competitive arena of IR 4.0.