Perspectives on Blended Open Distance Education Learning and Teaching in a South African Context

Perspectives on Blended Open Distance Education Learning and Teaching in a South African Context

Shawren Singh (University of South Africa, South Africa) and Hsuan Lorraine Liang (University of South Africa, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-852-9.ch002
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Abstract

In this chapter, we will discuss the blended learning approach that has been adopted by the University of South Africa (an open and distance learning tertiary education institute). We will discuss our perspectives on using these blended learning approaches and tools in order to facilitate our teaching. We will then provide a comparison on the advantages and disadvantages of some of the blended approaches we have used. We will also discuss the future trends of the use of blended approaches in the context of open distance education and learning. Lastly, we will conclude this chapter by providing our perspectives on the blended learning and teaching approaches adopted by the University of South Africa.
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Introduction

In this chapter, we will discuss the blended learning approaches that have been adopted by the University of South Africa (Unisa). Unisa combines distance education and open learning in order to form its unique open-distance-learning model. Open Distance Learning (ODL) is seen as a multi-dimensional system aimed at bridging the time, geographical and transactional distance between students, lecturers, tutors, courseware, and the university.

Various approaches and models exist to blended learning (Ginns & Ellis, 2007; Khine & Lourdusamy, 2003; Valiathan, 2002). Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. At this university being an ODL university, we use a blended approach taking into account the limited resources and students who have diverse needs and who are geographically spread around the world. We do not echo the technologies used in developed countries.

First and foremost, we will provide the background and explain the nature of Unisa and its blended learning and teaching approaches. The purpose of this chapter is to provide other institutions of higher education, particularly those in developing countries, adequate knowledge and insights into the problems experienced by Unisa through our experiences and perspectives. We will discuss the challenges and issues of embarking on blended open distance education learning and teaching in a developing country, specifically South Africa. We write a personal account of our experiences using these blended learning approaches and tools in order to facilitate our teaching. We will then provide a comparison on the advantages and disadvantages of some of the blended approaches we have used. We will also discuss the future trends of the use of blended approaches in the context of open distance education and learning. Finally, we will conclude this chapter by providing our perspectives on the blended learning and teaching approaches adopted by Unisa.

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