Meeting the Realities in Technology Enhanced Learning

Meeting the Realities in Technology Enhanced Learning

Sibitse Mirriam Tlhapane (Tshwane University of Technology, Republic of South Africa) and Sibongile Simelane (Tshwane University of Technology, Republic of South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-749-7.ch013

Abstract

The case discusses the challenges of introducing technology-enhanced learning in geographically dispersed learners, most of who are situated in rural areas. These are post-diploma nursing learners with minimal computer literacy. They also have limited or even no access to computers at the university because they attend part time, have full-time jobs and stay far from the university and so cannot even visit computer labs after hours. Despite these challenges, these students end up being motivated to learn computers so that they can access learning material and also use them for lifelong learning. The case also covers computer training, e-applications used, online learning, studies done, partnerships between faculty and the directorate and teaching and learning with technology. The value of simple, cheap technologies like an interactive CD-ROM in initiating students to e-learning and overcoming their bandwidth problems is emphasised, including the gains made from the project. Both staff and managerial challenges are discussed and recommendations are made.
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Rationale For The Technology-Enhanced Education Project

The Nursing Department offers the programme B.Tech Occupational Health Nursing on a part-time basis. This is an outreach programme to make continuing nursing education programmes available to nurses in remote areas of the country. The course runs for two years. The learners are professional nurses employed full time in either public and private healthcare institutions or industries. Nursing in this country is still a predominantly female profession, so males make up less than 1% of the total population of 120-150 per year of study. Being female, most of the students have to cope with the multiple roles of being a wife, a mother, a professional, a community member and a student. But as adult learners, they know what they want. They desire to be involved in their learning and wish for knowledge which is of immediate use.

There is minimal lecturer-leaner contact, three days a month for three subjects in the first year, and in second year they do only two subjects. Lecturing venues include Polokwane, Nelspruit, EMalahleni, Klerksdorp, where the majority of the students stay and work in rural areas, and Pretoria, which is more urban. In our case, the context is not that of complete separation between lecturer and learner in space and time. It is partially because lecturers do go to learners periodically and they meet at educational venues with minimal infrastructure. The e-learning project in this case was implemented to augments the part-time, face-to-face modality. Each lecturing venue has at least one part-time lecturer who also acts as an onsite mentor for the learners.

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