Integration of E-Learning into Curriculum Delivery at University Level in South Africa

Integration of E-Learning into Curriculum Delivery at University Level in South Africa

Rabelani Dagada (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa) and Agnes Chigona (Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/ijopcd.2013010104
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Most South African universities have been acquiring new technologies for teaching and learning. This paper aims at understanding the domestication of e-learning platforms. The authors want to understand the factors that affect the domestication of the platform to become an integral part of teaching and learning. A qualitative research approach was employed. One-on-one interviews with eighteen snowball sampled participants was the data collection method used results of the study show that few academics have appropriated the technology into their pedagogy; however, many are still in need of professional development to successfully integrate the technology in their pedagogy. Most academics are lacking the understanding of the complex relationships between content, pedagogy and the technology to be integrated into the curriculum delivery. Therefore, there is a need for the institutions to assist the academics to improve their technological pedagogical content knowledge if the institutions are to successfully domesticate e-learning platforms.
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1. Introduction

While there is a belief that new technologies have the potential to support curriculum (Vrasidas & McIsaac, 2000), research in South Africa has shown that the use of the technologies for teaching and learning has the potential of alleviate the deepening crisis in the education system inherited from the apartheid era (Hardman, 2003). Responding to the potential South African universities have been investing in the acquisition of the new technologies for teaching and learning. Institutions like university of Cape Town and Witwatersrand University have learning management systems (LMS) with which e-learning is able to unfold. The new technologies are reshaping the curriculum delivery and management processes in the universities (Mlitwa, 2006). It is believed that the integration of e-learning in the curriculum delivery has “eased the burden of having to contend with an influx of students seeking tertiary education to enhance their skills for the ever-demanding job market” (Mapuva, 2009, p. 1). Nevertheless, while some universities are deploying e-learning to enhance their teaching and learning processes, others are believed to be joining the bandwagon for the sake of not being left behind (Govindasamy, 2002). The bottom line here is that the institutions (e.g., Witwatersrand University) are investing in e-learning technologies. However, the question here is: has the technology been domesticated in the institutions?

It is argued that while e-learning is increasingly considered significant in curriculum delivery and instruction, and is reshaping traditional learning worldwide (Damoense, 2003, p. 25), the benefits of e-learning can only be realised by the institutions and users if the platform has been properly adopted and integrated into the teaching and learning processes. It is argued that integration of technology in teaching and learning processes goes beyond mere adoption. While adoption of e-learning in learning institutions describes the process from the time the technology is acquired to the time when it is utilised in teaching and learning, domestication, on the other hand, is the implicit blending of technological components, parts or elements into a complex but harmonious whole, as well as how the technology is seamlessly embedded into pedagogy (Margaret, 2005; Chigona, Chigona, Kausa, & Kayongo 2010). That is, mere adoption of e-learning technologies may not necessarily translate into integration of the platform into the teaching and learning processes, unless deliberate steps to integrate the technology are put in place.

The aim of this paper is to understand how e-learning is integrated into pedagogical processes of the individual lecturers in some universities in South Africa, since research and anecdotal evidence show that the use of e-learning for course delivery leaves a lot to be desired (Madiba, 2009). Our concerns are particularly regarding the factors that affect the domestication of e-learning to become an integral part of curriculum delivery and instruction in the institutions. Appropriate domestication of e-learning is the concern here since quality teaching with technology requires developing a nuanced understanding of the complex relationships between technology, content, and pedagogy, and using this understanding to develop appropriate, context-specific strategies and representations (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p. 1029). Nevertheless, the following questions gave focus to this study:

  • How do instructors in their respective universities respond to e-learning for course delivery?

  • What factors affect the integration of e-learning in the pedagogical processes in the institutions?

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