Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

Evaluation of Elearning Usage in South African Universities: A Critical Review

Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

Evaluation of Elearning Usage in South African Universities: A Critical Review

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Learning is a process where learners' interaction with materials, peers and instructors results in change in behaviour and thinking. Learning 2.0 is the concept of delivering educational activities using web tools which create a new kind of a participatory medium to encourage multiple learning types, including social learning (Hamid et al., 2009). Learning 2.0 utilises web tools, social networking, collaboration and self directed learning. Effective learning should improve on the quality of learning experience, be learner centred, be active, lead to knowledge construction and change learners' knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and skills. Educators need to prepare learners for future employment by putting theory into practice. Mlitwa (2006) notes that the quality of teaching and learning depends on methods, content, learner and educator, and, therefore, technology cannot correct these factors if they are poor.

eLearning Implementation in Higher Education Institutions

In the 1990s, e-learning, that is, learning facilitated online through network technologies emerged across South African HEI (Ravjee, 2007). In SA context, e-learning practices appear with new vocabulary, policies and structures, and budgets. eLearning is an ICT-enhanced practice in universities ranging from e-mail provision, online journals, and networked libraries, to development of creative software solutions for information management tasks in teaching, research and administrative systems. Moll et al. (2007) defined e-Learning as 'flexible learning using ICT resources, tools and applications, focusing on accessing information, interaction among teachers, learners, and the online environment collaborative learning, and production of materials, resources and learning experiences'. eLearning is the use of technological interventions for teaching, learning and assessment (Mlitwa & Van Belle, 2011), enabling learners to improve problem-solving skills and empowers educators to disseminate and impart knowledge effectively. Millham et al. (2014) say eLearning is essential for the improvement of learners' performance, engagement, self- regulation, flexibility, interest and motivation. It promotes active participation and self-regulated learning, which enables construction, learning-pace adjustment and gives desired learning outcomes.

The Historical Background of eLearning Policies and Activities

After independency, South Africa explicitly formulated education policies for promoting access to educational opportunities for previously disadvantaged groups (Dumbrajs et al., 2013). Since 1994, education reformation has been a priority to promote equality among all races. Progress has been made in education legislation, policy development, curriculum reform and the implementation of new modes of education delivery; however challenges like student outcomes and labour market relevance exist. The new National Curriculum Statement (NCS) emphasizes a learner-centred, outcomes-based education approach. In the GET band (grades 1-9), "subjects" have been replaced with "learning areas" integrated across traditional disciplinary boundaries. The curriculum was subsequently rewritten in plainer language, with more emphasis given to basic skills, content knowledge and logical grade progression. The inception of Curriculum 2005 introduced changes in the SA school system and therefore retraining teachers is needed to prepare them for the newly introduced technology subject. The aim of reformed policies was to teach curricula based on learners' own socio-economic environment and equip them with skills that can be applied in real life situations (Dumbrajs et al., 2013). Other policies included the Revised National Curricula Statements and Curricula Assessment and Policy Statements, which indicate a period of rapid transformation and democratization. New education policies in SA include indigenous knowledge in the curricula but are not prescriptive (Dumbrajs et al. …

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