Getting started: GetSmarter training students for the Evidence-based management course during their orientation week.

The University of Cape Town Commerce Faculty, with its online education partner GetSmarter, this week reached a UCT and South African milestone by launching two of its most important courses in a “blended learning” format.

The first-year foundation course “Evidence-based management”, convened by Jacques Rousseau, and the Bachelor of Business Science capstone course “Strategic thinking”, convened by Dale Williams, will be delivered through the GetSmarter online learning platform with “high-touch” interactive tutorial support.

The move towards anchoring university course delivery in modern interactive online technology is aligned with international trends and marks a turning point for tertiary education.

In the past, both courses were presented solely through on-campus lectures and tutorials.

They will continue to include some face-to-face lectures and tutorials, but the heart of the student experience will be online video lectures, comprehensive module readings, an interactive online discussion forum and weekly online assignments.

More than 1 400 students will enjoy this move into the 21st century, with more to follow over the next few years.

The dean of commerce, Professor Don Ross, has championed the faculty’s pioneering move into web-based course delivery.

“The typical contemporary student is likely to find being stuffed into rooms stuffed full of sweating other people who aren’t dancing or working out quite strange and primitive,” he says.

“In our new course format they’ll be able to enjoy normal-style interaction with their fellow students, in a course-specific social networking environment.

“These courses are closer to the standard worlds of professional communication and information.”

Sam Paddock, co-managing director of GetSmarter, says the move to presenting full-time degree courses serves to confirm the growth of online education.

UCT has a long-standing history with GetSmarter, as a partner in presenting more than 30 online short courses to working professionals.

“It has been a privilege to collaborate with the course convenors on producing world-class video lectures and supporting material for these courses,” he comments.

“Students now have the chance to progress through lectures at their own pace; pausing when they need to take breaks, rewinding when they don’t immediately understand the content, and asking questions via the discussion forum, with lightening-fast response times when they need further assistance from the convenors and administrators.”

Studying online provides new opportunities for learning, access to information and dynamic communication with others.

Ross encourages students to have fun with the new course model, and to embrace the learning channels that open in a virtual environment.

GetSmarter’s resources provide a personal and engaging learning experience.

Students will have access to continuous administrative and academic support throughout the course, and are encouraged to interact.

Each module has been carefully structured to include all course content and learning tools on a user-friendly platform.

l For more details contact Sam Paddock at GetSmarter on [email protected] or 021 447 7565