Re-engineering technological strategies in teaching and learning in an open distance learning (ODL) environment is paramount as the demand for access to quality higher education escalates drastically on a year to year basis. The organisational framework requires change in order to accommodate the increasing number of students. In view of the changing higher education landscape and the increase in the number of students qualifying for higher education acceptance, open distance education has been opened to residential institutions. Despite the fact that demands is greater than supply in the higher education sector, the University of South Africa (Unisa), in reaction to the “competitive threat,” has embarked on the re-evaluation of ODL as a component of its teaching and learning methodology. Unisa focussed on its pedagogical approaches as a primary means of maintaining its competitive edge. The challenges in the higher education sector are also attributed to the basic education sector that does not prepare students sufficiently for higher education. ODL, if applied appropriately, could be a strategy to address the issues of access, equality, and equity in a democratic South Africa. Pedagogical strategies that are functional and appropriate need to be applied in the higher education sector. Hence the research question is to determine what ODL strategies can be implemented to ensure that students are on par with traditional universities. Therefore, this paper explores the pedagogical strategies that colleges may use with the intent to improve delivery of teaching and learning in an ODL environment.
This paper examines the possible characteristics and the value of designing learning activities grounded in connectivism—an emerging learning theory. It is an exploratory attempt to connect the theory to the prevailing technology adoption archetypes used in African contexts with the aim of extracting influences that could shape pedagogical technology adoption in African higher education contexts. A reflection on the process of designing learning activities that employ blogging in an experimental training intervention provides a unique context in which to try and infuse connectivist principles while outlining the challenges that surface. The questions driving the argument in this paper include: What do connectivist perspectives offer learning activity design and practice? What can the prevailing technology adoption models used in African contexts offer to learning activity design? Can we combine connectivist perspectives and African-based technology adoption models to inform pedagogical technology adoption in African higher education contexts? These questions are exploratory and are based on one single subjective experience of the author. They are part of an argument put forward as a proposal which is yet to be tested in practice.
In this paper we explore the impact of an intelligent grouping algorithm based on learners’ collaborative competency when compared with (a) instructor based Grade Point Average (GPA) method level and (b) random method, on group outcomes and group collaboration problems in an online collaborative learning environment. An intelligent grouping algorithm has been added in a Learning Management System (LMS) which is capable of forming heterogeneous groups based on learners’ collaborative competency level. True experiment design methodology was deployed to examine whether there is any association between group formation method and group scores, learning experiences and group problems. From the findings, all groups had almost similar mean scores in all group tests, and shared many similar group collaboration problems and learning experiences. However, with the understanding that GPA group formation method involves the instructor, may not be dynamic, and the random method does not guarantee heterogeneity based on learner’s collaboration competence level, instructors are more likely to adopt our intelligent grouping method as the findings show that it has similar results. Furthermore, it provides an added advantage in supporting group formation due to its guarantee on heterogeneity, dynamism, and less instructor involvement.
Tanzania is faced with a severe shortage of qualified in-service school science and mathematics teachers. While science and mathematics account for 46% of the curriculum, only 28% of teachers are qualified to teach these subjects. In order to overcome this challenge, the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT) implemented a project to use multimedia-enhanced content to upgrade subject content knowledge of science and mathematics teachers in secondary schools. A total of 70 topics and 147 subtopics were developed and enhanced with various multimedia elements. The content was used to train 2,000 in-service science and mathematics teachers from secondary schools in 19 selected centers countrywide. However, the presence and availability of this content does not automatically guarantee that teachers will use them. For this content to improve teachers’ subject content knowledge, they must be accepted and used by teachers in secondary schools. This study examines factors affecting teachers’ acceptance and prolonged use of developed multimedia-enhanced content using the extended Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT2) as a research framework. A sample of 1,137 teachers out of 2,000 was collected and tested against the research model using regression analysis. With exception of performance expectancy, all other factors had a statistically significant effect on teachers’ acceptance and use of the developed content. The government and other stakeholders can use these findings to develop strategies that will promote acceptance and use of the developed content in secondary schools in Tanzania.
The Peer Review (PR) is a very popular technique to support socio-constructivist and connectivist learning processes, online or face-to-face, at all educational levels, in both formal and informal contexts. The idea behind this technique is that sharing views and opinions with others by discussing with peers and receiving and providing formative feedback enriches the quality of learning. In this study, a class of trainee teachers conducts an online PR. The resulting interactions are analyzed and evaluated by the researchers through the application of an evaluation model based on both quantitative and qualitative data. In particular, two conditions are studied, namely the PR in groups versus the PR in dyads. Results show that students who carried out the PR in groups were less active from the cognitive point of view, while they devoted more effort to deal with organizational matters and discourse facilitation.
Peer feedback affords interaction and critical thinking opportunities for learners in online courses. However, various factors prevent learners from taking advantage of these promising benefits. This study explored learners’ perceptions of the interpersonal factors in a role-playing peer-feedback activity, and examined the types of peer feedback that learners generated when playing a role. Participants were 16 graduate students engaged in an online role-playing peer-feedback activity. The results from survey responses revealed learners’ positive interpersonal beliefs, including psychological safety and trust, toward the role-playing peer-feedback activity. In addition, more than sixty percent of the participants reported being more comfortable critiquing peers’ work when playing a role. The content analysis of the peer-feedback entries indicated that learners were able to generate highly constructive feedback entries. In addition to adding supportive comments, those feedback entries identified problems, asked questions, and provided suggestions. The results show that role-play strategy has great potential to enhance learners’ interpersonal beliefs in peer-feedback activity and their feedback quality.
Online discussion is a commonly used means to promote student understanding of a topic and to facilitate social interaction among students or between students and instructor; however, its effects on student learning in online learning environments have rarely been investigated. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of online discussion in student learning experiences measured with community of inquiry, learner time, satisfaction, and achievement. One instructor taught the same online course for three consecutive semesters using three different conditions. During one semester enrolled students engaged in no discussion, during another semester they engaged in discussion without instructor participation, and in the remaining semester they engaged in discussion with active instructor participation. No significant differences were found among conditions in cognitive presence and the instructor’s teaching presence, whereas significant difference was found in social presence among conditions. No significant differences among conditions were found time spent on Blackboard, course satisfaction, and student achievement. Implications for online teaching and learning as well as for designing an online course conclude the paper.
Personal learning environments (PLEs) are Web 2.0 tools and services by which users’ access, construct, manage, and share educational contents in order to meet their learning needs. These environments enable users to manage their learning according to their own personal preferences. They further promote socialization and collaboration with their broad user networks and interaction facilities. In this study, with a case sample from a public university in Turkey, student teachers’ PLE use and their perceptions regarding these environments are examined. For data collection, the PLE Perception Scale and PLE Use Scale developed by the researchers were used. It was observed that all participants used various PLEs and found them easy and practical on the whole. However, it was found that this utilization mostly had the aim of access and sharing knowledge in learning, while use of constructing and managing it remained limited. Emailing, social networking, file sharing, video sharing, Internet searching, and social encyclopedias were found most commonly used PLEs. Our findings also show that gender and grade level do not have an effect on the perception and use of PLEs.
Rapid advances in information and communications technology in the digital age have brought about significant changes in the practice of distance education (DE) worldwide. DE practitioners in the Philippines’ open university have coined the term ‘open and distance e-learning’ (ODeL) to refer to the new forms of DE, which are characterised by the convergence of an open learning philosophy, DE pedagogies, and e-learning technologies. This paper discusses the issues and challenges that ODeL poses for the Philippines’ open university from the point of view of the institution’s leading ODeL practitioners. The paper concludes with a discussion of the policy development and administrative changes required to support innovative teaching practice across the institution. The findings and conclusions are relevant for other institutions in the same stage of ODeL development.
This paper reviews the e-learning course development in selected universities of Mongolia and attempts to classify the e-learning programs that are in practice at the tertiary education level in the country. The given paper uses both secondary and primary sources. The authors determined what factors influence e-learning type classification and how time consuming is e-learning in course development stage in comparison to that of face-to-face learning? Methods such as computation using threshold values, k-means clustering, and comparison of means using paired t tests were used. Furthermore, comparison of means was used to validate the factors. In conclusion, authors deliver recommendations based on analysis lessons learned for further development. This research has practical implications for higher education managers to make informed decisions.
A deluge of empirical research became available on MOOCs in 2013–2015 and this research is available in disparate sources. This paper addresses a number of gaps in the scholarly understanding of MOOCs and presents a comprehensive picture of the literature by examining the geographic distribution, publication outlets, citations, data collection and analysis methods, and research strands of empirical research focusing on MOOCs during this time period. Results demonstrate that (a) more than 80% of this literature is published by individuals whose home institutions are in North America and Europe, (b) a select few papers are widely cited while nearly half of the papers are cited zero times, and (c) researchers have favored a quantitative if not positivist approach to the conduct of MOOC research, preferring the collection of data via surveys and automated methods. While some interpretive research was conducted on MOOCs in this time period, it was often basic and it was the minority of studies that were informed by methods traditionally associated with qualitative research (e.g., interviews, observations, and focus groups). Analysis shows that there is limited research reported on instructor-related topics, and that even though researchers have attempted to identify and classify learners into various groupings, very little research examines the experiences of learner subpopulations.
The growing utilization of massive open online courses (MOOCs) is opening opportunities for students worldwide, but the completion rate for MOOCs is low (Liyanagunawardena, Adams, & Williams, 2013). Partners In Health (PIH) implemented a “flipped” MOOC in Rwanda that incorporated in-class sessions to facilitate participant completion. In October 2013, PIH invited its employees, as well as those at the Ministry of Health, to participate in an online MOOC. Each site had at least one volunteer facilitator who accompanied participants throughout the course by providing course materials and facilitating the understanding of the online material during the weekly class sessions. Following the conclusion of the course, all participants were asked to complete an online survey. A total of 38 out of 62 registered participants completed the survey and of these 38 participants, 20 (52.6%) successfully finished the course. The number of in-person sessions attended was significantly associated with course completion (p < 0.05), and 85% who successfully completed the course attended at least three of seven sessions. Sixteen (80%) participants believed that the completion of this course would help them with career advancement. Half of the participants (19 of 38, 50%) were employed with a position related to research. Other job titles included the following: nurses (4 of 38, 10.5%), a pharmacist (1 of 38, 2.6%), a clinical psychologist (1 of 38, 2.6%), a dentist (1 of 38, 2.6%), and others (10 of 38, 26.3%). The job title was not significantly related to course completion. Our experience, with a completion rate of over 50%, yields several lessons for incorporating MOOCs into capacity-building programs to leverage the potential of online learning in resource-limited areas.