Monthly Archives: February, 2012

Using live video relay to reach 700 first-year students from the English Department

In the latter part of 2010 the English department was faced with what seemed to be an extremely difficult predicament due to a lack of human resources. The department experienced a shortage of lecturers and a surplus of students who had enrolled for this course. This predicament initiated a meeting with various stakeholders from the English department; Prof Tony Parr and Dr Fiona Moolla; the eLearning department; and Information Communication Services (ICS) to explore the various possibilities.

Based on the meeting it was agreed that the live video relay option would best suit the department’s needs. The motto ‘let the doors of learning be opened’ was the motivation to see this innovative pilot succeed. The video relay entailed that the live lecture be streamed from lecture venue DL1 (where the lecturer was present); to the second venue DL3. This relay enabled the 700 students within both lecture venues to view the presented lecture on large plasma screens. Hence, the lecturer is able to give a live presentation within two geographical spaces (DL1 & DL3).

Phase 1 included the conceptualisation or sense-making of the needs of the English department and lecturers. Various suggestions and options were taken into consideration after a needs analysis was conducted. This included the available ICT and human resources; current infrastructures of the venues; and the time-frame in which this pilot project had to be successfully delivered.

Cognitivists believe that the addition of multimedia can help improve and augment the learning process of students as they see the concept in action (Michelich, 2002). Streaming media such as video and audio can help learners understand complex concepts and procedures that are difficult to explain with simply text and graphics (Klass, 2003)

Vodcast (video podcast) to enhance your teaching-and-learning practices

Video clips placed online are referred to as Video podcasts (Vodcasts). The term vodcast comes from the combination of the words “video” and “podcast”. The eLearning ICT team has researched and tested the use of various video editing software which will assist lecturers and students to create personalised vodcasts. Video clips can be recorded using, cell phones, video cameras or webcams. The recorded clips can then be imported and edited using the video editing software.

Vodcasting can be used by students to interview patients or clients during their fieldwork excursions. Once lecturers and students have been trained on the use of the software, users will be able to:

· Edit video clips
· Customise video clips
· Extract audio from video files
· Merge multiple video clips into a single video file
· Convert video files to be played on PC, Laptop, iPhone, DVD and other popular cell phone brands.

The eLearning team invites all interested lecturers who are willing to pilot this eTool within their instructional practices.

EMS Management courses supplemented with online eTools

Lecturer Vicky Naicker of the School of Business and Finance, EMS faculty has incorporated eLearning into his teaching-and-learning practices (since 2007). The eLearning team assisted the lecturer with the development of online modules. Subsequently, the lecturer has created nine (9) modules to supplement his traditional instructional practices.


Vicky mainly uses the online environment to share documents with his full-time and part-time students at the University. Different forms of documentation are shared with students namely: Word documents; PowerPoint Slides; and PDFs. This mode of delivery provides easy access to online content and communication. The eLearning team demonstrated to the students how to access the online courses; and download course notes. Further telephone, email and walk-in support is offered on a continuous basis for the lecturer and students.

Mobivarsity: Access your discussion topics via mobile off campus – 11 Aug 2010

The UWC Mobivarsity facility allows students to link to their online discussion forums via their mobiles. Students will be able to actively engage with their peers and lecturers within the discussion forum. Hence, they will be able to view their postings; and reply to their postings within the discussion forum (via their mobiles).

According to the Mobile Learning Network (MoLeNET), mobile learning can be broadly defined as ‘the exploitation of ubiquitous handheld technologies, together with wireless and mobile phone networks, to facilitate, support, enhance and extend the reach of teaching and learning.

**Please note that only the courses that have been setup on eTeaching; or migrated from eLearn to eTeaching will be available on the mobile site. Also note that only registered students will have access to their online courses via their mobile phones.

eLearning outreach: ICT training for UWC Metro cleaning staff members

Metro cleaning colleagues have taken the initiative to empower themselves, by attending the eLearning basic computer literacy programme. The participants will engage in Microsoft Office Packages during hands-on training and support sessions. These packages include: Introduction to Windows; Word; PowerPoint; Excel and Publisher. They will also be equipped with basic Internet browsing skills; and how to access email. The first ICT training session (Introduction to Windows) has been attended by fourteen eager participants.

This eLearning outreach programme is similar to the one we embarked on for the Hope Foundation (NGO) in 2008, whereby adult learners were trained on how to use Microsoft Office Packages. The E-Learning Development and Support Unit (EDSU) is dedicated to outreach community projects which endeavours to enskill learners with basic computer literacy competencies.

Mobile eLearning site for UWC: “Mobivarsity” 

The eLearning Support and Development Unit (eDSU) embarked on a project with the Free Software Innovation Unit (FISU) at the University of the Western Cape, for the development of a mobile eLearning site. The various possibilities were discussed and Phase I of the Mobile project encompassed the development of a student mobile site: Thus our vision for a “mobivarsity” – “a mobile university” for students unfolds.

The eLearning mobile site is a mini version of the eTeaching site that has been optimised to function on the mobile phone. The site will enable students to access various eTools via their mobile phones namely:

    * Course content

    * File manager

    * Assignment

    * Discussion forum

    * Internal mail

    * Calendar

    * Announcements

    * Multiple choice questions (MCQs)

There is a need to re-conceptualise learning for the mobile age in order to support virtual communities that transcend barriers of age and culture. Thus we need to recognise the essential role of mobility and communication in the process of learning; and to indicate the importance of context in establishing meaning [Sharples, 2005].

As Merryl Ford stated at a South Africa – Finland Knowledge Partnership on ICT Programme (SAFIPA) conference held in Pretoria, the cellphone is poised to become the ‘PC of Africa’, and hence provides a gateway for eLearning. Many mobile phones are now Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) enabled, which allows users to browse the internet from their mobiles anywhere at any given time provided there is network.

UWC “Mobivarsity”: Access online courses via mobile phone

The mobile UWC eTeaching site was developed specifically for students to enable access to various eTools, namely: Course Content, Discussion Forum, File Manager, Internal Mail, Announcement Assignment, Calendar, and MCQ Tests using their mobile phones.

Many students are already familiar with browsing the internet via their mobile phones in order to access the Facebook site; and download applications such as Mxit, a mobile instant messenger (IM). Thus, they will easily be able to access their online courses via their mobile phones.

The Mobivarsity site enables the following functionalities when accessing online courses (registered students only):

Discussion Forum: The students are able to view their course forums and further view and read all the topics within the selected forum.

Course Content: The students are able to view snippets of the content pages

File Manager: Students are able to access their course files; browse course files; and download the file to their mobile phone memory or memory card.

Announcements: Students are able to view their course announcements.  These online course announcements are also directly linked to their GroupWise email addresses.

“Students are already inventing ways to use their phones to learn what they want to know. If we educators are smart, we’ll figure out how to deliver our product in a way that fits into our students’ digital lives – and their cell phones” (Prensky, 2004).

 **Please note that only the courses that have been setup on eTeaching; or migrated from eLearn to eTeaching will be available on the mobile site. Also note that only registered students will have access to their online courses via their mobile phones.

Concept Mapping (Cmap): An eTool to enhance your instructional practices

Concept mapping also referred to as Cmap is a software tool developed at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC). Cmap is a free application that allows users to share their knowledge through Concept maps (also known as mind maps) via the Internet. The Concept map tool allows users to create an illustration using text; graphics; and inserting web links.

This tool can be used to map your face-to-face lectures; presentations; tutorials; and workshops. You can further integrate the Cmap tool into your online environment to structure your objectives, content and assessment tasks. Students will be able to view the concept map with their online courses.

If you are interested in creating a concept map to enhance your instructional practices please contact the eLearning team

Student eLearning Training: A necessary learning curve

During the week, 06-09 April 2010 the eLearning team offered training to first-year students from various faculties. Students were shown how to access and navigate the eLearning system; add their profile pictures; download course documents and engage in online assessment tasks. The aim of this training was to enable the students to engage in their interactive online environments.

During specific training periods it was noted by the eLearning facilitators that the internet connectivity was extremely slow. This resulted in many students not being able to participate in the planned ‘hands-on’ training sessions. However, the facilitators were able to continue with demonstrative sessions. This challenge hindered the training processes and learning experiences of the students.

Nevertheless, students remained receptive to the training and when questioned about whether they would be able to re-enact what was demonstrated, they responded positively. The eLearning team further informed students that should they encounter any difficulty they could seek assistance via email; telephone; or a visit to the eLearning unit at the Cassinga building.

The eLearning team appeals to all lecturers to ensure that their students receive training in order for them to become familiar with the eTools; and apply the attained skills for further effective online collaboration.

Student Benefits: eLearning Podcast Project

The eLearning podcast project is targeted at both lecturers and students at UWC. The aim of this eLearning institutional project is to enable learners (lecturers and students) to:

• Create podcasts (audio-recordings);

• Edit the recording in an Open Source Software namely Audacity

• Export the podcast as an MP3 file; and

• Upload it into the online environment

This process is usually linked to field work which is related to a specific discipline. Students from School of Pharmacy (UWC) have expressed their opinions regarding the benefits of podcasting. These benefits relate to practices within their discipline; communication skills and use of eTools:

• “I think it will benefit us as this is a practical assignment more than a theoretical one therefore it will also be easier for our assignments to be done”

• “This will also benefit us when we become pharmacists as we are able to practice our communication skills”

• “My communication skills can be recorded and analysed by my lecturer in order to optimise it”

• “It will assist me to conduct patient interviews effectively without any hassles so I think it is imperative that this tool is made available to as many undergraduate and postgraduate students as possible.”

• “We really appreciate it, knowing how to submit our voice recorded assignments online”

• “It familiarises me with a computer and will assist me with communication skills”

Multimedia realities provide students the significant potential and possibility to come closer to the fundamental reality of their subject matter; and to learn in a practical and “experiences-centered perspective” (Peters & Collis, 2000).

UWC a leading force in Africa: The Open Courseware Movement

The University of the Western Cape is part of the worldwide Open Educational Resources (OER) Consortium. Open Courseware (OCW) is a term applied to course materials created by universities and shared freely with the world via the internet and redistributed under the creative commons license. The OCW Movement began at Massachusetts Institution of Technology (MIT) in October 2002; and consequently the network consists of over 200 universities across the world, which has published more than 8000 courses under open content licenses, for others to download, modify, adapt, and use freely.

The University of the Western Cape is a leading Higher Education Institution driving the Open Courseware initiative In Africa; and since has been elected as a board member of the OCW Movement. Recently, in July 2009 UWC was part of an OER Africa Health conference held in Cape Town where a particular framework was developed for health aligned tertiary institution departments of participating universities to share and contribute towards the populating the OER Africa health repository.

Friday, 12 February 2010, the University of the Western Cape is hosting the annual OCW workshop at the School of Public Health (09:00-12:00). The eLearning team has been a driving force for OER at UWC. The eLearning team maintains UWC’s FreeCourseware site, which is accessible globally.

This site currently hosts 14 UWC lecturers from various faculties who have opened their courses to the world:

Biodiversity & Conservation Biology

•  Richard Knight



• Pierre de Vos

• Patricia Lenaghan

• Pierre de Vos



• Manogari Chetty

• Razia Adam

• Tariq Lodhi


School of Public Health

• Linda Ntombizodwa

• Michael Rowe

• Vivienne Bozalek

• Thembisile Khanyile

• Karen Wallace

• Lorraine Fakude

• June Jeggels

UWC- first African institute to join the OpenCourseWare movement started by MIT

”OpenCourseWare is a term applied to course materials developed by universities and shared freely with the world via the internet. The OCW movement began at MIT with the launch of MIT OpenCourseWare in October 2002. Since then the OpenCoureWare Consortium has been established. It is a network over 200 universities from across the world that has published more than 8000 courses under the open content licenses, for other to download, modify, adapt, and use freely” (Philipp Schmidt, 2009). The University of the Western Cape has become the first African Higher Education institution to join the OCW movement. Since 2007, Prof Derek Keats and Philipp Schmidt have represented the institution on the board.

The early-adopters of this initiative hosts the following modules:

• South African Bill of Rights module by Law lecturer  Pierre de Vos

• Biodiversity & Conservation Biology by Richard Knight

•  School of Public Health modules namely, Managing Human Resources for Health – Prof Uta Lehmann and  Measuring Health and Disease – Prof Neil Myburgh and Prof Debra Jackson

Soon the free courseware site will host our newcomers:

• Chemistry module by Karen Wallace

• Masters in Child & Family Studies by Nicolette Roman

• Nursing Postgraduate module by Lorraine Fakude

• Self-Assessment for Foundations of Nursing by Ntombizodwa Linda

• Advanced Fieldwork Education by Neil Henderson

** Colleagues, please note that these lecturers have created interactive online modules within the eLearning system. These are private modules and only accessible to their registered UWC students. The modules hosted on the free courseware site are made public and allows users across the global village to view course content. In order to view UWC public modules created and shared under the Creative Commons Licenses, visit the free courseware site at:

Read more about the OpenCourseWare (OCW) movement, its benefits; latest stats and how to get involved.