'n Bestuursmodel vir oop afstandsleer aan die NWU
Van Zyl, Johanna Maria
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Distance education as delivery mode is currently attracting more and more learners globally who want to improve their skills and qualifications. This is necessitated by especially the limited components of existing contact universities, financial expenditure and working learners. The presenting of open distance learning by existing contact universities in South Africa is relatively unknown. Consequently the aim of this study is also to investigate a model for Open Distance Learning used at the NWU, an existing contact university. In order to achieve this aim, several other aims were set as well. The most important findings of these aims are subsequently summarized. Aim one was to determine how distance education, open distance learning and e-learning have been conceptualized in the literature. It emerges clearly from the literature that various barriers and challenges accompany the implementation and delivery of distance and open distance learning program. These barriers particularly concern matters such as academic, cultural and technical aspects like the student’s experience, the position of the lecturer regarding the program, the design of the program, the fact that development in technology is constantly kept in mind and kept up with, as well as problems with financial aspects. The second aim intended to compare open distance learning in developed and developing countries as far as contact classes and e-learning are concerned, in order to establish the best practices for a suitable management model. The open distance learning models of twelve universities were examined separately and compared to one another. From these comparisons the following components of open distance learning were indentified which would be applicable to both developing and developed countries: (i) the use of traditional paper-based study material; (ii) the use of various forms of technology; (iii) the use of e-learning, and (iv) voluntary supporting contact classes. From the literature it has been shown that, despite limited infrastructure, poverty, illiteracy and geographical isolation, e-learning and m-learning are increasingly implemented as delivery modes in open distance learning programmes in developing as well as developed countries. Aim three was to establish, from within the literature, the nature of management models with specific reference to the innovations within managing business models in the context of open distance learning. Firstly variables which play a role in new business models were considered. Secondly the levels according to which the innovation of new models should take place were investigated, and also how these could possibly be implemented within the NWU, as well as the principles applicable to the innovation and implementing of a new model from an existing mother company. Factors which could play a part in the plans to present distance learning programs were also considered, whether these would imply a new distance education unit or the continued presentation of such programs. The most important aspects to consider for such a management model are addressed in aim seven. Aim four investigated the effect of attendance or non-attendance of contact classes on the academic achievement of open distance learning students within selected Advanced \certificate in Education (ACE) programs. This aim referred to an empirical investigation which comprised five phases. A consecutively progressing research design was used, consisting of both quantitative and qualitative methods, known as the multi-mode design. Phases one to three address aim four. Spearman’s rank order correlations, one-way ANOVAs (t-tests) and two-way tables (Cramer’s effect sizes) were calculated in order to identify significant correlation (effect sizes) between variables. It was found that students who attended contact classes did not achieve significantly better during examinations than students who did not attend. The average module mark in the examination of students who did not attend contact classes was 49.5%. The average mark of students who attended three or more contact classes was 52.6%. Considering the examination results, the passing rate of students who attended contact classes was 89% as opposed to 82% for those who did not attend any contact classes. Upon comparing data of students attending vacation school and those who did not, it emerged that students who attended vacation school achieved an average module mark (for all modules) of 42.4% as opposed to 52.7% of those who did not attend any vacation school. Aim five considered the open distance learning student’s opinions on and experience of attending contact classes and not attending, within selected ACE programs. Questionnaires were distributed to a number of students who attended contact classes, and to some who did not attend. The following findings emerged: reasons why students do not attend contact classes are (i) distance from tuition centre; (ii) personal reasons such as family responsibilities or funerals; (iii) because classes are not presented by full-time NWU lecturers; (iv) medium of instruction, limited time and class sizes also seemed to pose problems. Aim six investigated the readiness of the open distance learning student for e-learning within selected ACE programs. Focus group interviews regarding this aim were conducted with three groups of students. The following was found: (i) the vast majority of students (62.1%) do not have computers at home; (ii) 80.4% indicated that that they could not access the Internet, and that (iii) cell phone communication seemed to be the solution, since 93.1% of students own cell phones. Aim seven investigated the opinions of management experts at the NWU concerning the components and practice of an ODL model at the NWU. In order to comply with this aim, an intensive literature study was done on open distance learning models internationally. In the second place an empirical investigation was conducted regarding attendance of contact classes and e-learning as teaching method for the teaching and learning component of an open distance learning model. Thirdly focus group interviews were conducted with senior management of the NWU regarding challenges, risks and components of an open distance learning model. According to the data obtained from these interviews, various matrix analyses were done, which could serve as basis for a management model in open distance learning. The matrix analyses identified the following eleven components as important for a management and practice model for open distance learning: (i) Teaching and learning pertaining to development and quality of study material, effective assessment, the required program designers, training of lecturers and facilitators for presenting open distance learning programs, and efficient quality evaluation. (ii) ITC for open distance learning refers to technological support for processes such as assessment, interactive presentation of lessons, using Internet, cell phone technology and the use of the web page. (iii) Support practice for management which involves matters such as the policy of administrative processes regarding registration, cooperation with consortiums, assessment of assignments and examinations, and dealing with administrative processes different from on-campus. (iv) Finances which refer to compiling annual budgets, remuneration of facilitators, determining the profitability of programs presented, as well as financing technological development. (v) Tuition centres: coordination between the university and tuition centres is crucial as far as contact classes, interactive presentations, group discussions as well as examinations are concerned. (vi) Short courses and projects, especially as far as continuing professional development is concerned, as well as the development of a preparatory college for prospective students and cooperation with private institutions. (vii) Quality processes which include compulsory evaluation of program content and of the effect of programs as evaluated by the private sector, identifying new programs and cooperation with other faculties. (viii) Marketing which can be done by the university itself or by a consortium of collaborators. (ix) A structure for open distance learning with its own, unique and particular structure according to need. Factors which may be significant are the number of students studying through open distance learning, the nature of the programs presented and cooperation between consortiums. (x) Hierarchical structure which in the first place requires effective management of an open distance unit, and secondly also that such unit functions in cooperation with and within existing structures. Especially executive authority and lines for reporting should be outlined clearly. (xi) Research must be done in collaboration with other faculties in order to acquire a particular distance education entity. Research regarding the management of, e.g. the effect of programs, contact class attendance, readiness for e-learning and technology at tuition centres, can also be conducted. The exigency for development of an o pen distance learning unit within the NWU, together with a management model for effective management and practice of distance programs, was the main theme of this study. This study has succeeded in suggesting a management model which could be utilized profitably in endeavoring to attain the strategic aim of presenting programs by means of distance education. It also addresses the national need in South Africa of access to tertiary education for more learners.
- Education