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Title: A design framework for e-learning that advances e-skills of students in a South African University of Technology
Authors: Soobramoney, Subashnie 
Issue Date: 9-Apr-2019
Abstract: Nationwide E-inclusion is yet to be realised in many countries, including South Africa, conceivably resulting in the E-skills diversities that exist in the workplace and amongst university students. Literature confirms diversity of E-skills, however does not provide a strategy to develop these E-skills diversities, such that students may cope with the rapid, countrywide adoption of E-learning by South African universities, which has consequently imposed additional demands on students to use unfamiliar technology for learning. Since E-learning technology is supported by universities, identifying a strategy that incorporates elements of E-learning that may develop E-skills will benefit disadvantaged students and prepare students for a technology dependent economy.

The relative novelty of using E-learning to develop E-skills is underpinned by a constructivist philosophical view that necessitates a qualitative approach for discovery. A longitudinal case study of undergraduate first year students with diverse E-skills levels was conducted to gather qualitative data needed to gain a thorough understanding of how E-learning tasks might be structured towards firstly helping the student cope with technology enhanced learning, and secondly to develop students’ E-skills over a prolonged period. Focus group interviews and course assessments were used to gather data from participants and Straussian-grounded-theory methods were employed to ensure a rigorous, structured analysis of student experiences with technology and their related E-skills development. Elements of E-learning design that influence E-skills were identified as concepts and categories using Straussian grounded theory coding techniques.

Emerging categories show that diversity may be addressed by introducing carefully designed incrementally complex E-learning tasks, stimulating the student to achieve the next level of E-skills competency. This incremental digital development may be achieved through strategic manipulation of elements, such as providing support for development, motivation for technology use, creation of opportunities to use the technology, acknowledging challenges in access to technology and providing optimal time for tasks to encourage E-skills development and minimise competence related anxiety. Complemented by instructor interventions, beginning with instruction, then involvement, thereafter facilitating interaction and finally encouraging independence to stimulate E-skill development from fundamental to strategic levels, builds an effective platform to develop E-skills.

Increasingly complex tasks need increasingly complex technologies. It provides a framework that an instructor may use as a strategy to improve the adoption of E-learning and address E-skill diversity in the classroom in a way that can develop student E-skills on multiple levels, so that they will be equipped to meet the demands of the university environment and ultimately the technology driven workforce.
Description: Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Masters in Information and Communication Technology, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa. 2019.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Accounting and Informatics)

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