Friday, 31 August 2007

E-learning at Universities

According to Wikipedia website, e-learning is a general term used to refer to computer-enhanced learning. It is used interchangeably in so many contexts that it is critical to be clear what one means when one speaks of 'eLearning'.

The North West University (Mafikeng Campus) has decided to go this route - e-learning for its Economics students. It is not clear whether the students go to classes, but what has been observed is that students have a web site developed by their lecturer where they get all information regarding the course,including chapters and are able to do assignments online.

This is one of the latest developments that the university has come up with. However, the system seems to be lacking in so many respects.

Yes, students are able to do assignments, write tests and quizes, respond to surveys, and submit such online and get results immediately. What makes this service somewhat ineffective is that - any student can write on behalf of another student e.g his or her friend by using that particular student's details to long in.

Also, just 20 minutes ago, one student was doing her quiz and also did that(quiz) for her friend too because her friend's working and apparently this service can only be accessed by students using the intranet service only. During this process, bearing in mind that questions were multichoice questions. This particular student did not even bother to read the questions nor read the alternative answers provided. All she did was tick on any of the choices provided and view feedback.

The feedback would provide students with correct answers, it is then the student(s) would tick the right answer and submit for evaluation or marking.

The disadvantage is not only on the performance of students themselves but, one could ask: How valid is this method of student assessment? Is it effective and deliverable?

Wikipedia goes further to state that e-learning in many respects, is commonly associated with the field of advanced learning technology (ALT), which deals with both the technologies and associated methodologies in learning using networked and/or multimedia technologies.

But as to whether it(e-learning) provides accurate assessment of students is unclear. It is unlikely that students using this assessment service would be active, and effective in answering questions.

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