Project coordinator, Fiona Moolla of the English Department, contacted CIECT to assist with the creation of an interactive online environment within the Ikamva (Sakai platform) which will enable students to navigate content, focusing on basic skills of academic writing and effective language use.
The Project Coordinator worked closely with professional Language Consultants who were responsible to develop the content for each section. Various blocks focus on correcting common language errors which occur in student submissions and interactively encourage the fundamentals of good academic essay writing. Each block presents the basic principles involved and thereafter tests students’ knowledge through a series of self-correcting exercises.
NB: Lecturers and tutors may refer students who are struggling with essay writing to the interactive online programme. It should be noted that students are able to access the programme asynchronously (independently, at their own pace and time). Students are also able to engage in a particular test (linked to a block) – as many times as required. The system automatically grades the test and provides online results.
In the literature, Krause (2006:203) emphasises that “Although face-to-face contact with teaching faculty remains crucial in developing students’ academic writing skills, there is a place, too, for judicious use of online technologies to provide support in this area. Many studies exploring the use of Web-based programs as an adjunct to traditional forms of delivery have reported high levels of student satisfaction with online delivery (Ellis, 2000; Gluck, Vialle, Lysaught, & Larkin, 1998).” She also notes that “First-year students confirm that they appreciate online delivery as a very useful scaffolding device that in effect helps to induct them into the discipline and its writing conventions. However, they strongly argue for the need for social interaction with faculty and peers as they struggle to come to terms with the language of the academy and define its discourse” (Krause, 2006:217).