Rural students’ experiences of online learning support in an open distance learning environment

Rakoma, Mpho Allan (2018-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT : Online learning is the new form of teaching and learning delivery used by education institutions worldwide, particularly in distance learning institutions. The University of South Africa introduced online learning in 2007 as a mode of teaching, learning and student support in order to be in a position to reach all students and particularly those who live in the remotest rural areas and yet, to this date, students are inadequately using online learning platforms available. There are already a number of studies conducted regarding this phenomenon at UNISA; however, the focus has been mostly on urban students. Hence, the focus of this study was on rural students’ online learning experiences at UNISA in Limpopo region. The study was informed by Moore’s theory of transactional distance to determine the reported challenges and experiences of UNISA students in the usage of online learning platforms, particularly the e-tutoring platform. A descriptive qualitative case study, using individual interviews was used to investigate the problem. Eleven participants were interviewed and the findings highlighted both internal; those that UNISA can manage; and external problems which would need other outside role players. Most gratifying from this study was the positive attitude of participants towards online learning-that it is helpful for them and therefore need not to be discontinued. This study concludes by providing conclusions and their implications and emphasises that an effective student support for online learning could help reduce the transactional distance experienced by students and potentially increase student usage of online learning platforms.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Geen Afrikaanse opsomming geskikbaar nie

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