Learning by design : enhancing the digital literacy of adult learners in a blended learning environment

Davidse, Zenobia Alethea Angelica (2021-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : The higher education landscape is changing, influenced by phenomena like globalization, democratization, massification and emerging technologies. The reality higher education institutions (HEIs) are facing is an increase of access for a broader segment of the population from diverse socio-economic, cultural and educational backgrounds demanding flexible programme offerings to cater for their diverse needs. Among the larger student population, adult learners are becoming increasingly prominent. Adult learners enter or re-enter HE for a variety of reasons: they must be upskilled in terms of qualifications required for the workplace, in terms of skills to actively contribute and participate in the knowledge economy, or in terms of personal development. The development and use of emerging technologies enable flexible delivery modes. Many universities are introducing hybrid learning strategies that combine the use of technology and face-to-face interaction. The readiness of adult learners to adapt to and flourish in a hybrid learning environment was the challenge investigated in this study to improve the digital literacy of adult learners with limited prior exposure to ICT. In this study the collaborative nature of educational design research (EDR) assisted in developing deeper understanding, over a period of two years, of the challenges adult learners face with the use of technology in teaching and learning. EDR is conducted in the messiness of a real-world setting and involves several complex variables. In order to create a controlled setting for the study, a programme was purposively selected that had adopted a combination of block contact and online learning, and catered for a student population that consisted mostly of adult learners and was diversified in terms of their experience in the use of technology in learning and teaching. The nature of EDR situated this study within a pragmatic paradigm, using qualitative and quantitative methods for the data generation. EDR was used as an approach to investigate, design, implement and integrate a technology-based intervention to improve the digital literacy of adult learners with the Integrative Learning Design Framework (ILDF) as the guiding framework. The integrative, systematic process of ILDF put emphasis on the context and activity of design. The significance of ILDF is the learning that occurs because of the data generated during each phase, as the context of the environment is better understood, applied and refined during these cycles. The repetition of the cycles of operation in the various phases not only assists in the improvement of the design of the intervention, but also contributes to a deeper understanding of all the variables that influence the educational practices. ILDF draws from instructional design traditions, product design, usage-centered design and diffusion of innovation as an integrated systematic process. Instructional design and usage-centered design was of particular interest for the situated context of the study because of the emerging technology trends in HE and the needs of adult learners. This study has demonstrated that challenges in technology-enhanced programme planning and teaching and learning can be viewed through different lenses. The lens of the programme coordinator drew attention to the shortcomings of adult learners with regard to the use of technology in a blended learning environment. However, from the perspective of the adult learners, it became clear that their expectations of expanded access to learning opportunities within HE were not accommodated in the mode of delivery, and technology in the learning environment did not provide for the needs of a diverse student population. This was addressed by the designed intervention.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Die hoër onderwyslandskap verander voortdurend en word veral beïnvloed deur verskynsels soos globalisering, demokratisering, massifikasie en opkomende tegnologieë. Die realiteit waarmee hoër onderwysinstellings gekonfronteer word, is die verbreding van toegang vir ‘n groter segment van die bevolking van diverse sosio-ekonomiese, kulturele en onderwysagtergronde, wat buigsame programaanbiedings om aan die verskeidenheid van behoeftes te voorsien, vereis. In terme van die breë studentepopulasie word volwasse leerders dus toenemend prominent. Volwasse leerders betree of her-betree hoër onderwys vir ‘n verskeidenheid van redes, hoofsaaklik om hulle vaardighede te verbeter ter wille van vereistes in die werkplek, om aktief deel te neem en ‘n bydrae te lewer in die kennis-ekonomie, of ter wille van persoonlike ontwikkeling. Die ontwikkeling en gebruik van opkomende tegnologieë maak ‘n buigsame gemengde-modus van aanbiedinge moontlik. Baie universiteite ontwikkel en implementeer hibriede leerstrategieë wat die gebruik van tegnologie en van aangesig-tot-aangesig interaksie kombineer. Die gereedheid van volwasse leerders om aan te pas by en te floreer in ‘n hibriede leer-omgewing was die uitdaging wat in hierdie studie ondersoek is, met die doel om die digitale geletterdheid van volwasse leerders met ‘n geskiedenis van beperkte blootstelling aan IKT (informasie-kommunikasie tegnologie) te verbeter. In hierdie studie het die samewerkende aard van opvoedkundige ontwerpnavorsing (‘educational design research’ of EDR) bygedra tot die ontwikkeling van ‘n dieper begrip, oor ‘n tydperk van twee jaar, van die uitdagings wat volwasse leerders in die gesig staar met die gebruik van tegnologie in onderrig en leer. Opvoedkundige ontwerpnavorsing word gedoen in die ‘morsigheid’ (‘messiness’) van die werklike lewe en behels verskeie komplekse veranderlikes. Om ‘n beheerde omgewing vir die studie daar te stel, is ‘n program wat ‘n kombinasie van blok-kontak en aanlyn-leer toegepas het, doelbewus geselekteer. Die program het voorsiening gemaak vir ‘n studentepopulasie van hoofsaaklik volwasse leerders wat divers is in terme van hulle ondervinding in die gebruik van tegnologie in onderrig en leer. Die aard van opvoedkundige ontwerpnavorsing het hierdie studie in ‘n pragmatiese paradigma, wat gebruik maak van kwalitatiewe en kwantitatiewe metodes vir data-generering, geplaas. Opvoedkundige ontwerpnavorsing as navorsingsbenadering is gebruik om ‘n tegnologie-gebaseerde intervensie te ondersoek, te ontwerp, te implementeer en te integreer om die digitale geletterdheid van volwasse leerders te verbeter, met die Integrerende Leer-Ontwerpraamwerk (‘Integrative Learning Design Framework’ of ILDF) as basiese raamwerk. Die integrerende, sistematiese proses van ILDF plaas die klem op die konteks en die aktiwiteit van die ontwerp. Die betekenis van ILDF is die leer wat plaasvind as gevolg van die data wat gedurende elke fase gegenereer word, aangesien die konteks van die omgewing beter begryp, toegepas en verfyn word gedurende elke siklus. Die herhaling van die operasionele siklusse in elke fase dra nie net by tot die verbetering van die ontwerp van die intervensie nie, maar ook tot ‘n dieper begrip van al die veranderlikes wat die onderrigpraktyke beïnvloed. ILDF steun op tradisies van opvoedkundige ontwerp, produkontwerp, gebruiksgesentreerde ontwerp en verspreiding van innovasie as ‘n geïntegreerde sistematiese proses. Opvoedkundige ontwerp en gebruiksgesentreerde ontwerp was van besondere belang in die spesifieke konteks van die studie, veral in die lig van die opkomende tegnologiese tendense vir hoër onderwys en die behoeftes van volwasse leerders. Hierdie studie het gedemonstreer dat uitdagings in tegnologie-versterkte programbeplanning en onderrig en leer deur verskillende lense beskou kan word. Die lens van die programkoördineerder het die aandag gevestig op die tekortkominge van volwasse leerders met betrekking tot die gebruik van tegnologie in ‘n gemengde leeromgewing. Daarteenoor, vanuit die perspektief van die volwasse leerders, het dit duidelik geword dat hulle verwagtinge van uitgebreide toegang tot leergeleenthede in hoër onderwys nie aangespreek is in hierdie leeraanbieding nie, en dat die tegnologie in die leeromgewing nie in die behoeftes van ‘n diverse studentepopulasie voorsien het nie. Dit is aangespreek deur die intervensie wat in die studie ontwerp is.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/110094
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