An investigation into the usability of asynchronous information techology for a virtual E-learning information sharing environment at a university in South-Africa

Scholtz, Karin (2003-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2003.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Institutions for tertiary education are now more than ever realising the advantages of supplying the growing population with more effective and flexible learning environments through the integration of technology based media. Educational institutions are faced with the challenge of embracing technological changes within the educational domain in order to maintain their competitive position within a global arena. The University of Stellenbosch, as many other tertiary educational institutions, are challenged to view them as being part of an integrated knowledge society responsible for the reproduction of knowledge as a national and global commodity. The recent acceptance of an explicit strategy concerning educational processes and the creation of an Electronic Campus ensured that the University of Stellenbosch would maintain their strategic position through the development and improvement of the quality of the central education, research and community service functions within the university. The purpose of the research conducted within the boundaries of the University of Stellenbosch were to enhance and improve the quality of the learning and information sharing processes between various role players through the exploration of available communication media and the examination of relevant concepts. The specific objectives of the study comprise the following: ■ Objective One: Through the use of alternative subjective and objective test methods, including observation and the use of a questionnaire to conduct an empirical study to evaluate the usability of the various asynchronous computer based communication media, with specific focus on course management systems, and video streaming; ■ Objective Two: Make recommendations based on the findings of the study to potential users of the alternative media and applications in terms of the limitations and benefits; ■ Objective Three: To use the findings, together with an examination of the user needs and applicable concepts, to make recommendations to assist in future decisions regarding the value of the integration of these media into the creation of a high value interactive virtual learning environment; ■ Objective Four: Given the findings, to make recommendations for future research. Empirical tests were conducted in order to examine the usability of WebCT and Microsoft Producer as it was anticipated that the degree to which the communication media adds value and enhances the education and information sharing process will be influenced by the usability of the specified media and the role players' perceived need for the specific media. Empirical test were descriptive in nature and included survey research methods and usability laboratory tests In summary, the data obtained shows that the sample population holds favourable attitudes with regard to the usability of both Microsoft Producer and WebCT. WebCT and Microsoft Producer holds the potential for enhancing and improving the quality of the learning and information sharing processes between role-players within the University of Stellenbosch by providing a useful, reliable, easy to use, consistent, compatible, learnable and likeable system. The integration of WebCT and Microsoft Producer in the context of the University of Stellenbosch will enable role-players to complete their educational and research activities with accuracy in a timely competent and economical fashion.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Instellings vir tersiere opvoeding is nou meer as ooit bewus van die onmiskenbare voordele verbonde aan die beskikbaarstelling van meer effektiewe en buigsame leer omgewings aan ‘n groeiende studente getalle deur die integrasie van tegnologie gebasseerde media. Opvoedkundige instellings word toenemend uitgedaag om die geleenthede wat die tegnologiese veranderinge in die opvoedings domein vergesel aan te gryp. Die Universiteit van Stellenbosch word, soos vele ander tersiere instellings, uitgedaag om hulself te beskou as deel van ‘n geintegreerde kennis gemeenskap, verantwoordelik vir die reproduksie van kennis as ‘n nasionale en globale kommoditeit. Die onlangse aanvaarding van 'n eksplisiete strategie aangaande opvoedkundige prosesse en die ontwikkeling van ‘n elektroniese kampus het verseker dat die Universiteit van Stellenbosch sy strategiese posisie behou deur die ontwikkeling en verbetering van die kwaliteit van die sentrale opvoedings, navorsings, en gemeenskapsdiens funksies binne die Universiteit van Stellenbosch. Die doel van die navorsing wat binne die grense van die Universiteit van Stellenbosch uitgevoer is was om die kwaliteit van die opvoedings- en informasiedelings prosesse tussen verskeie rolspelers te verbeter deur die verkenning van beskikbare kommunikasie media en relevante konsepte. Die spesifieke doelwitte van die studie kan as volg uiteengesit word: ■ Doelwit Een: Om deur die gebruik van alternatiewe subjektiewe en objektiewe toets metodes, insluitende observasie en die gebruik van ‘n vraelys, ‘n empiriese studie uit te voer met die oog op die evaluasie van die bruikbaarheid van verskeie asinkrone rekenaar gebasseerde kommunikasie media, met spesifieke fokus op kursusbestuurstelsels en videostroomingstelsels; ■ Doelwit Twee: Om aanbevelings te maak gebasseer op die bevindinge van die studie aan potensiele gebruikers rakende die alternatiewe media en hul gebruike in terme van tekortkominge en voordele; ■ Doelwit Drie: Om die bevindinge te gebruik in samewerking met 'n evaluasie van die gebruikers se behoeftes en toepaslike konsepte, ten einde aanbevelings te maak wat toekomstige besluitneming sal dryf aangaande die waarde van die integrasie van die bogenoemde media in die ontwikkeling van ‘n hoe waarde interaktiewe skynwerklike leer omgewing; ■ Doelwit Vier: Gegewe die bevindinge om aanbevelings te maak vir toekomstige navorsing. Empiriese toetse is toegepas ten einde die bruikbaarheid van WebCT en Microsoft Producer te bepaal, aangesien daar verwag is dat die graad waartoe die kommunikasie media waarde sal toevoeg tot die opvoedkundige en informasie delings proses, beinvloed sal word deur die bruikbaarheid van die gespesifiseerde media asook die rolspelers se behoefte vir die spesifieke media. Die empiriese toetse kan as beskrywend geklasifiseer word en behels die gebruik van opnames en bruikbaarheids laboratorium toetse. Die data toon aan dat die rolspelers se houding teenoor die bruikbaarheid van Microsoft Producer en WebCT uiters positief is. WebCT en Microsoft Producer die het die potensiaal om die kwaliteit van opvoeding en informasie deling tussen rolspelers binne die Universiteit van Stellenbosch te kan verbeter deur die beskikbaarstelling van ‘n bruikbare, betroubare, gebruikers vriendelike, konsekwente, verenigbare, leerbare en aangename stelsel. Die integrasie van WebCT en Microsoft Producer in die konteks van die Universiteit van Stellenbosch sal rol-spelers instaat stel om hul navorsings en opleidings aktiwiteite met akkuraatheid en bevoegdheid te voltooi.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/53274
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