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Tertiary institutions should consider new approaches of learning and teaching – UWC study recommends

Male student at the library.

Tertiary students are skipping classes and need to go back to traditional teaching structures. Image: Supplied

Published Oct 19, 2021


Tertiary institutions should consider adopting new approaches to learning and teaching, by means of the hybrid mode which combines both face-to-face and online contact.

This is a recommendation made in a study published in the SA Journal of Higher Education.

The recommendation comes after a study by researchers from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) found that a vast majority of 672 first-year students questioned in the survey said they only attended between one and four lectures over a three-week period.

This took place in 2019 when the traditional face-to-face contact remained the primary teaching mode.

The study revealed fascinating insights about the impact of online learning on students. Students disclosed factors for non-attendance.

“About 37% of the student said they were too busy studying for tests, 28% said lectures were not stimulating enough, and 22% believed the need to complete assignments was too great,” the study indicated.

However, students also found that online learning resources at UWC were sufficient enough to cope with their studies. To the researchers, this was significant.

Researchers said students would increasingly learn through flexible online learning, and, going forward, a hybrid model of virtual learning and face-to-face lectures and tutorials would be implemented in the tertiary space.

Lockdowns necessitated by the Coronavirus have meant that companies have had to move away from the traditional in-store and head office learning scenarios and offer training in the digital space – a scenario seen the world over.

Such has been the uptake that earlier this year, the “Global E-Learning Industry” report, released by market data company ReportLinker, found that the global market for e-learning is expected to grow from $250.8-billion (R3.7-trillion) in 2020 to $457.8-billion in 2026.

“Since the desire for e-learning is so apparent among students, learners and workers, it is critical that lecturers, teachers and learning and development professionals are equipped with the right technology to make ongoing and accurate assessments, thereby improving overall learner performance,” researchers recommended.

Meanwhile, online learning solution provider New Leaf Technologies has recently become an official distributor of the Netherlands-based Cirrus assessment platform in South Africa, which is designed to help universities prepare for the future.

The state-of-the-art technology, which includes on-screen annotation, is said to address every aspect of the learning process.

“The platform allows for advanced workflow for quality assurance, meaning educators can collaborate with colleagues or external subject material to create high-quality assessments. A further benefit is functionality that allows users to track changes, compare versions and check psychometric data between versions of the given assignment,” the distributor said.