Economic Management Sciences (EMS): Blended environments for learning and teaching purposes

A number of 277 online environments have been created for the 2017 academic year. Lecturers across the EMS Faculty, within the various departments have engaged in blended activities to supplement their learning-and-teaching.  They have consulted and attended various training workshops offered by CIECT, to seek advice regarding the design and structure of online environments to support student learning.  The iKamva platform was used in conjunction with face-to-face lectures and tutorials, to extend the classroom experience and assist with authentic learning.

These online environments included the following blended practices:

  • Structuring learning material through the use of the interactive Lessons andCourse Resources eToolsThe learning content was structured and integrated digital media components (images, audio, pdf documents and PowerPoint slides) in order to support and reinforce various concepts and topics taught; and to accommodate diverse learning styles. Students were able to view the interactive videos at their own pace and from various geographical locations. This blended mode of teaching allowed both full-time and working professionals to engage in the teaching regardless of space and time.
  • Enabling students to sign-up for tutorials according to their timetables;
  • Communication activities that included posting of Announcementsand setup of online discussion topics. The Discussion Forum was used to allocate group work topics, and various questions were shared within the groups;
  • Creating different assessments includingreflective individual online tests and group assignments.  The assessments were directly aligned to the course outcomes and formed part of the final continuous assessment mark. In addition the memos of the tests were translated into different languages.

Furthermore, the School of Business and Finance (SBF) Department has been engaged in projects that included the:

– Development of an Application server (designed by CIECT development team); whereby prospective students were able to apply for specific Programmes that are offered through the Business School.  Prospective students were able to engage in writing the online admissions tests within iKamva, which are designed to test numeracy, critical thinking, reading and comprehension skills.  These results were captured online and the administrators were able to retrieve the results and approve prospective student applications accordingly. This online project was setup in an attempt to streamline administrative tasks and application processes.

**A pilot project to design, develop and implement a distant/‘Purely Online’ Programme is currently underway and includes various stakeholders. These stakeholders include collaboration among UWC Departments from the DVC Academic office, SBF lecturers, CIECT and ICS team members, and the Higher Education Partners- South Africa (HEPSA), an international educational partner.  A specific EMS Programme has been identified and the roll-out of this pilot is scheduled to take place during the second semester of 2018. This online programme will be designed and implemented in consultation with the CIECT team, specific lecturers and HEPSA.

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