Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe
On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
DU TOIT-BRITS, Charlene. Challenges experienced in implementing Information and Communication Technology for Setswana speaking Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) off-campus students at the North West University. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2015, vol.55, n.3, pp. 469-489. ISSN 2224-7912. http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2224-7912/2015/V55N3A10.
This article is based on research undertaken by Du Toit (2011) and Du Toit-Brits (2012) during 2011 - 2012 to determine possible challenges which must be kept in mind when choosing and implementing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in off campus education for Setswana speaking students at the North West University (NWU). The original research question was: to what extent do Setswana speaking off campus students, registered for the ACE programme, utilise ICT; and how do African off campus students at the NWU perceive and experience ICT in off campus education/Distance Education? Many believe ICT is unconstructively broadening the gap between the student and educator, consequently many studies emphasise the importance of face-to-face education and social interaction (with other students and the lecturer) as essential components of effective teaching and learning.1 In order to address this paradox, there is an urgent need for empirical data on how African students perceive and experience ICT in education. Distance education should create a link, whereby the necessary integration with technology could be achieved.2 In this regard, it is crucial that all roleplayers keep in mind the needs of the Setswana-speaking ACE student - especially pertaining to the compilation and implementing of programme specific study guides and teaching materials, such as readers, CDs, DVDs, etc. Setswana-speaking ACE students enrolled at the NWU currently feel increasingly isolated by the implementation of computer technology in off-campus education. The Setswana-speaking ACE student experiences off-campus education as a social learning community, and regards it as a type of social coherence/bonding with lecturers and fellow-students. The focus should thus be much stronger on a type of communal Education for Us, in which computer technology should not be seen as replacement for the lecturer in any way. When implementing computer technology in off-campus education, teaching management and programme developers should keep a number of aspects in mind: • experiences of off-campus education students pertaining to technology (readiness niveau); • accessibilty and availalbility of technological resources and adequate infrastructure; • sufficient ICT training of lecturers for off-campus students; • poor and inadequate network availability in local, especially rural, African communities and schools, and • use of ICT in the local schools, communities and households of off-campus education students. This requires NWU, during implementation of computer technology in off-campus education, to compile concept guidelines on how computer and Internet technology should be implemented in curriculum design and the compilation of programme specific study guides and teaching-learning support material, such as readers, CDs and DVDs, in order to maximally enhance quality education in the delivery of distance education programmes. Management and lecturers should be acutely aware of the fear and anxiety off-campus students experience pertaining to the use of computers. They should also realise that computer and Internet technology currently is not considered part of the cultural property or possessions of these students, and keep this in mind when deciding on the extent to which computer technology should be implemented in the curriculum and presentation thereof. Off-campus management should be aware of the fact that these students generally possess poor technological skills pertaining to computers and the Internet, and this should be kept in mind during curriculum design and delivery as well. The physical environment of these students is not conducive to effective utilisation of computer and Internet technology, and curriculum designers of off-campus education should continuously take cognisance of this. Regular discourse should occur with off-campus education students in order to effectively determine and keep track of their experiences regarding the implementation of computer technology. This discourse should be initiated and executed by the off-campus development team so that the opinion of students regarding enhancement of quality education by means of, inter alia, effective implementation of computer and Internet technology in off-campus programmes is regularly monitored. This regular monitoring and discourse should take place to prevent that increased utilisation of ICT in the delivery of off-campus education programmes create a widening gap between the students and the lecturers.
Keywords : Distance education; distance learning; adult learning; technology; student support; quality; e-learning; open learning; teacher training.