A curated online educational portal for staff and students at a university of technology
Bhorat, Abdool Haq Mahomed
MetadataShow full item record
The innovative application of an online educational portal in everyday teaching and learning is proposed to meet the needs of the new generation of students entering Universities of Technology (UoTs). The setting is against a background of educationally under-prepared but multimedia-literate students, and the university vision of integrating eLearning into the curriculum. The emergence of the Academic Commons Attribution has facilitated the channelling of free-to-use/open source educational information through the dedicated artefact. The investigation combined the challenges of artefact design with the necessity of authenticating subject content so that it was geared to the needs of the students in the Photography Programme. This study highlights the importance of managing knowledge so that it can be passed down to current and future generations in ways which keep pace with their exponential development of digital expertise. This research was carried out within Bhaskar’s critical realist philosophy, which argues that there is a real world which exists independently of one’s perception of it. It must be stressed that the artefact contained in the multimedia portal did not follow a linear, logical development but was a process of transformational iterative change, very similar to the developmental consistency described by Bhaskar. Bhaskar’s philosophical overview was complemented by Archer’s morphogenetic approach. The latter showed that the application of technology in teaching and learning is not just about use of “better tools” but signals a shift in social structure. The main technical challenge was for the researcher to standardise the multimedia resources so that they could be used on most personal computers, with the option of downloading short tutorials on mobile phones for later use. The resulting multimedia portal provides strong support in guiding inexperienced students and novice academics to choose resources appropriate to both the Photography curriculum and rapidly changing Industry requirements. The portal can also reduce the number of time consuming searches on various themes or topics, as it directs users to specific hyperlinked online resources in any given syllabus item. The curated educational portal is, therefore, currently being introduced as an enhancement to the traditional teaching and learning methods hitherto used in the Photography Programme. While the traditional methods have the strong humanist leanings essential for personal development, they are not geared to tackle the cutting edge technological advances required by industry. Moreover, in promoting the Durban University of Technology (DUT) as a centre using cutting-edge multimedia tuition, the portal might better establish influences with Industry (one of the core functions of a UoT) as well as attract international academics and students. The end result is to offer a blended learning model of tertiary programme delivery which is supported by the literature as currently being one of the most effective options.