Academic journal article Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations

Using Contradictions to Ravel Teaching and Learning Challenges in a Blended Is Course in an African University

Academic journal article Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations

Using Contradictions to Ravel Teaching and Learning Challenges in a Blended Is Course in an African University

Article excerpt

Introduction

As university student interaction and sharing of electronic resources in Web-enabled environments are becoming an embedded practice (Ng'ambi & Rambe, 2008), educators are under pressure to evolve pedagogical approaches (Salmon, 2007) that could support and leverage these forms of interactions. However, educators' implementation of Web-enabled courses for first year university students is often constrained by varying student academic underpreparedness, large classes, and inadequate curriculum design (Jaffer, Ng'ambi, & Czerniewicz, 2007) and student incapacity to learn when confronted with a learning environment that requires an unfamiliar degree of initiative and autonomy (Tan & Chan, 1997). The latter is the case for Social Media-enhanced learning environments that often put additional cognitive demands on learners to generate, share, and meaningfully engage with Web content, notwithstanding their underdeveloped self-regulation and learning abilities. Social Media denotes an aggregate of Web 2.0 based tools, applications, business models, and social networking that allows people to collaborate in novel ways at a large scale (Leadbeater, 2007). Instances of Social Media encapsulate social networking sites, blogs, podcasts, multimedia sharing sites, and aggregation tools.

Pargetter et al. (1998) suggest that students consistently identify independent learning and self-iscipline as basic goals of their university education, although many are unsure about how to achieve those goals. In Social Media where there is limited lecturer-student direct interaction, not only are students challenged by using social networking applications for meaningful learning, but rather how self-directed learning can be fostered in these quasi-formal learning spaces. As Dabbagh and Kitsantas (2005) suggest, in Web-based learning environments, the physical absence of the instructor and the increased responsibility demanded of learners to effectively engage with learning tasks may present difficulties for learners, particularly those with low self-regulatory skills. The challenge, therefore, is grasping how Social Media like Facebook could impact student conceptual and practical understanding of Information Systems (IS) if it was appropriated for teaching and learning. Mindful of the uptake of these technologies in South African universities for sharing academic information, responding to student queries and building trust among academic communities (Moore, 2010), exploring the implications of implementing them in university is essential to effective pedagogical delivery.

The South African government expects Information Systems (IS) education to produce technically competent graduates who not only know how to effectively apply Web-based technology for their lifelong learning, but also understand how to appropriate it to solve complex work-elated problems. Emphasising the social relevance of higher education training to nation development, the South African White Paper on Higher Education (Republic of South Africa, 1997) reiterates the need to develop professionals and knowledge workers with globally equivalent skills and who are conscious of their role in contributing to national development. As Shen, Lee, and Tsai (2007) comment, a vocational education system constantly involves meeting the needs and the new demand for highly skilled manpower, the continued progress of modern technology, the worldwide economic development, and the changing industrial structure. The above points out the central role that technological skills play in the structural dynamics of national development in addition to psychological development. The challenge however for IS practitioners is designing learning environments that afford the acquisition and development of sophisticated IS skills and respond to the learning needs of university learners. Graetz (2006) argues that the migration of content which lecturers traditionally delivered in lecture format to the Web is helping shift the function served by brick and mortar classrooms from information delivery to collaboration and discussion. …

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