Monthly Archives: August, 2015

UWC in the Digital Age: Integration of ICTs aligned to research

The University of the Western Cape (UWC), is aligned to critical discourse that has emerged from national and institutional policies, specifically expanding the successful integration of ICTs; increased participation for student development; and expansion of research.

CIECT’s deliverables and practices, in collaboration with lecturers across Faculties, include the creation of blended learning environments to support student participation, which are research-led projects. This aligned to the Institutional Operating Plan (Green Paper, 2015), Goal Area 2: Teaching and Learning: “New skills and kinds of knowledge are also needed in the world of work where graduates are expected to possess a level of skilfulness…”.

 

NB: The following table reflects the number of online modules per Faculty, created to-date (14 August, 2015, 11:23 am) – within the iKamva platform (for the period, January – August 2015). **If you cannot view the table, click on ‘View’ in the menu-bar on top; and select HTML.

 

Faculty ARTS CHS DNT EDU EMS LAW SCI Total
Modules 107 194 55 96 226 85 129 892

 

The training and support by the CIECT team, contributing to the application of innovative learning-and-teaching practices across disciplines are inseparable from research, and vice versa. Hence, CIECT’s research has focused on the measurability; impact of emerging technologies within a higher education setting; pedagogical affordances; and the development of frameworks. This is aligned to the Institutional Operating Plan (Green Paper, 2015), Goal Area 3: Research and Innovation: “…Develop identified areas of research strength across the university”. This is showcased in recent collaborative projects and related publications, at: http://tinyurl.com/p9sfjyg.

Browne’s (1915:108) states that it is imperative to “be not merely a distributor or disseminator, but also a producer or discoverer of the truth”.

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UWC in the Digital Age: Student access and success

The University of the Western Cape (UWC), is aligned to critical discourse that has emerged from national and institutional policies, specifically expanding student access and success.

CIECT has engaged in an upward trajectory with regards to the infusion of ICTs for learning-and-teaching; the ongoing debate around distance learning; and sharing good practices. This is aligned to the Institutional Operating Plan (Green Paper, 2015), Goal Area 2: Teaching and Learning.

Academics at UWC are supported by CIECT with the design of online environments to enhance instructional practices. Students also receive training and support related to the familiarisation of the learning platform; and Personal Learning Environments (PLEs).

CIECT is able to provide evidence of ‘distance learning’ initiatives at UWC that are almost ‘purely online’, allowing participants from various regions in South Africa and globally to collaborate within online environments, irrespective of geographical space and time.

NB: There has been a steady increase in the number of students and staff who have accessed the iKamva platform (institutional Learning Management System). For the period January – August 2015, a total number of 114 118 unique users accessed iKamva. **A unique user is a student, staff member, or visiting lecturer who is counted once per month, irrespective of the number of times he/she accessed iKamva.

Student access should be aligned to student success. The sharing of good innovative practices by academics across Faculties, showcases pedagogical benefits for students and staff within CIECT’s blog: https://ciect.wordpress.com/.

Physics team creates a blended learning environment

The Department of Physics (specifically, Physics 118/218) in collaboration with the CIECT team created a blended learning environment (including an online course within iKamva). This environment was first structured in 2013; and is regularly updated with relevant content and assessment tasks. This Physics course hosts lecturers, tutors and students (large classes) across disciplines within the Health Profession (Nursing, Natural Medicine and Occupational Therapy.

Students receive a course reader (hard-copy) at the start of the course, including information related to course notes, tutorials, weekly exercises and past exam papers. It should be noted that this course-reader is summarised into manageable units of learning (in this case, weekly lecture themes and assessment tasks). These summaries are further supplemented with online videos, applets and interactive simulations.

For example: The weekly theme, ‘Heat and Temperature’ was summarised and structured. The students (divided into 4 groups) met face-to-face with their lecturers to engage with the content. This group intervention was aligned to online videos, applets and simulations related to reinforce the specific theme. Furthermore, the students had to complete an exercise (face-to-face). This was supplemented with an online assessment task (which could be completed asynchronously over a period of time). It should be noted that the lecturers guided the students by providing “demo questions” in order to prepare them for online engagement.

The Physics lecturers (118/218 team), in collaboration with the CIECT team, have built and developed this environment over a period of three (3) years to support traditional teaching and learning methodologies. Hence, they slowly introduced new tools as they progressed through the content. Recently, they have introduced the students to assessment eTools. In addition, various digital media components have been reviewed and upgraded.

The iKamva platform also enables the lecturers to embed student surveys (course evaluations). The students and lecturers are able to complete surveys within their specific online course, without having to log into another application.

“Blended learning is not new. However, in the past, blended learning was comprised of physical classroom formats, such as lectures, labs, books, or handouts. Today, organizations have a myriad of learning approaches and choices.  The concept of blended learning is rooted in the idea that learning is not just a one-time event—learning is a continuous process. Blending provides various benefits over using any single learning delivery medium alone” (Singh, 2003).

Please contact the CIECT team to create your online environment.