Elearning has shown enormous growth worldwide during the last decade. Eleaming initiatives expanded rapidly, as technological improvement and a greater demand from learners arose as a result of the need for life-long learning and changing demands in the world of work. Many higher education institutions use eleaming as an alternative for or additional to conventional face-to-face education. The changing needs of learners, and especially adults, forced institutions to upgrade their traditional courses and increasingly make use of technologically enhanced courses.
The research problem encompasses the fact that the growth of eleaming poses many problems to higher education institutions, as the delivery by means of technology is complex. Many higher learning institutions were not prepared adequately to deliver education by using elearning and did not have the required systems in place. The greatest concern was that staff was not familiar with the technology or its use and that the particular demands of staff arrangements to engage in eleaming programs were not taken into account. It appears that institutions did not plan or have systems and guidelines in place to implement programs at a distance using elearning technology. Another concern was that most of the programs held traditional approaches and has not been adapted to suit the particular characteristics and needs of distance education by taking the planning, development and review of such programs into consideration. As part of ongoing research at the Technikon Free State, appropriate research had to be undertaken. Consequently the following research question emanated from the research problem:
Within the context of higher education in South Africa, what framework underpinned by andragogy, national education policies and elearning theory, will benchmark and support the implementation of elearning at Technikon Free State (TFS)?
The aim of the study is to provide a framework for benchmarking elearning at TFS. In general, a benchmark is an institutional approach that contributes to ensuring quality in technology, that mediates distance education, or for measuring any type of education for the purposes of quality assurance. The research method used to conduct this study was primarily that of a case study.
As part of the case study to investigate the research problem, I employed both qualitative and quantitative research approaches. As part of the quantitative approach and to determine the current state of elearning at Technikon Free State, a questionnaire was used. The questionnaire contained all the benchmarks that were derived from literature, namely, the eiearning principles, andragogical principles and the requirements as set by the higher education policy. Provision was also made to add remarks to the various sections of the questionnaire. As part of the qualitative approach interviews were conducted, documents were studied, audio-visual materials were implemented and the observational method applied during institutional visits.
Set against this background and Technikon Free State being a higher education institution, the didactical field of the andragogy was explored and its assumptions served as basis of the proposed framework to benchmark eiearning. In addition, the principles of national and international accredited providers of eiearning were used in a questionnaire to determine the current state of eiearning at Technikon Free State, but also to provide information on how to improve and benchmark eiearning in the contextualised setting. Furthermore, the aforementioned benchmarks also fall within the parameters as required by law and within the requirements of the National Education Policy.
Andragogy, which is the art and science to teach adults, provides an appropriate approach to develop guidelines for adult education. I propose an andragogical approach to eiearning and distance education as an appropriate framework for developing eiearning. The National Department for Education provided policies that contain guidelines that can impact on eiearning and the delivery of distance education. These policies were implemented to level the playing fields of the past as well as to equip our educational dispensation to be globally competitive. Within this context of higher education and with andragogy as basis, this study aims to benchmark eiearning at Technikon Free State. Scientific benchmarks that were found in my research are based on andragogical principles; the requirements pertaining to the new plan for higher education; as well as eiearning as accepted nationally and internationally by accredited academical institutions. For the purpose of my research, I investigated eiearning and distance education at the Technikon Free State as implemented since 2001 and up to 2003.
The research conducted showed that strategies are needed to empower lecturers and learners alike to engage in eiearning, as it has become a part of new educational strategies and technology. As part of this empowerment I developed a framework that can be used by Technikon Free State. The framework contains essential principles to direct management and lecturers alike to implement elearning.
The research showed certain shortcomings. The most important one pertains to staff that are not adequately trained in elearning technologies and the lack of staff available at Technikon Free State to ensure that the institution will indeed become fully operational in delivering elearning. It is therefore in the interest of the institution to embrace elearning fully, seeing that increasing numbers of learners will demand elearning accessibility. Many learners need to be able to use computers in education. Elearning can be used by learners, not only in distance education, but also by learners on campus. The ideal is that each faculty, as part of the learners’ programs, incorporates computer literacy and provides computer facilities to all its learners. A huge shortage exists in computers as the library at CUT only has 250 computers to serve around 8000 learners.
Lecturers should be assisted by support structures at faculties, with, for example, computer technicians, tutors, instructional designers and assistants to fully implement elearning. The vision and mission of the institution must serve as guide for management and staff. The change in being The Central University of Technology Free State (CUT)(a change that took place in April 2004) will thus require changes by the institution to adapt to the latest technology. Subsequently for the purposes of this research, all references to TFS must be interpreted as CUT hereafter.
|Alternative Title||‘n Andragogiese raamwerk vir die implementering van E-leer by die Technikon Vrystaat (TVS)|
|Degree Type||Doctoral degree|