The landscape of higher education has changed tremendously over the past years. In 1728 the first distance course was offered via e-mail, 1922 the radio came, 1968 TV, 1976 computers and look where we are today: Online learning, a competitive market, is part of these changes. Universities had to take into consideration what the masses need e.g. easier access to education. The effect of globalisation brought along rapid changes in technology which contributed to the development of online learning, a structure that contributed to accommodating more people.
The emphasis is changing from distance education to online learning. A more suitable option is however blended learning which includes online components. More and more universities and colleges are investing in online learning and/ or blended learning. In the video reference is made to the 43 courses that are being offered for free. This course that we are doing is offered for free BUT will it be acknowledged by the workplace?
On a website, Skills Universe, people commented on online learning. One participant commented that they developed interactive online university modules. They have spent a lot of money to ensure a good quality course but they are still struggling to get accreditation in South Africa. The SETA’s did not want to accept the technology and they were informed that “SAQA had not accredited the SETA for e-learning, so they were not in a position to accredit a provider for e-learning.” This shows us that there are still fields in South Africa that is not ready for the challenges and implementation of online learning.
The references on the MOOCS’ website for this course focusses mainly on e-learning. A challenge is that teachers are not equipped to implement e-learning in schools. E-learning courseware is designed for specific audiences but I am not so sure that this is always the case. A bigger challenge for me is that teachers are often overloaded with marking and extra-mural activities and will have to find the time to get trained. Many students and lecturers who are used to the traditional classroom based learning often measure the quality of learning by the information transmitted by a subject expert. I thought that the bigger challenge would be to improve computer and information skills but a bigger challenge is to get students to take responsibility for their own learning.
It was challenging to find statistics on on-line learning and how it increased over the years. South Africa is still in the beginning phase of online learning.
Posted by Wilma De Villiers
Computers & Education Volume 45, Issue 2, September 2005, Pages 217–229
TED TALK by Daphne Koller (video)