Professor Rupert Ward (seated, second right) with the students and staff who attended the seminar.

Professor Rupert Ward (seated, second right) with the students and staff who attended the seminar.

Seminar Explores the Use of Technology Enhanced and Blended Learning Approaches in Education at UKZN

The discussion and proposal of a Roadmap for the uptake of technology resources to enhance the teaching and learning experience for UKZN staff and students was the focus of a seminar recently hosted by UKZN’s Teaching and Learning Office (UTLO) in collaboration with University Capacity Development Grant.

The seminar titled: A Roadmap for Technology Enhanced Learning Implementation at UKZN saw Professor Rupert Ward, a former Special Adviser to HRH The Duke of York, KG, and Project Lead for The Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award and co-author of the University’s highly successful assessment and feedback strategy, who holds six postgraduate qualifications across a range of disciplines share insights based on his vast experience on the use of technology enhanced and blended learning approaches in education.

‘We don’t need to teach as much information as we used to because everyone now has Google and Wikipedia and students can access the information from there. The most important questions are what is the role of teaching and what is the need for a university degree? Your role is not to teach but to facilitate knowledge and develop informed people so we cannot teach them theory of driving a car and then expect them to get into a car and be able to drive just from learning the theory alone,’ advised Ward.

The interactive seminar saw Ward engage with staff and students on the following areas:

Why academics are reluctant to use technology even though it is easily available at no cost
Why students do not find the time to watch multimedia materials on line
If they do, does this improve their understanding of key concepts?
Should entire lectures be captured in classrooms and distributed?
Benefits of video recording lectures and distributing them on line
How video materials may be made interesting in the manner they are produced.
‘I think of education as more of a hurdle race, if you fit and have trained a lot then you are fine but if you haven’t then it becomes harder to endure the race. You have to understand learning from a student’s perspective and change their perception that the use of technology is hard. We also have to develop a diagnostic tool that will help with the transition of the students from high school to university by ascertaining their proficiency when it comes to using technology and develop resources that will assist with the transition because this type of learning is about engagement and motivation,’ said Ward.

Discipline of Information Systems and Technology lecturer Dr Upasana G Singh who arranged Ward’s visit to UKZN which was also his first visit to South Africa had this to say:

‘In this highly volatile South African Higher Education environment that we are situated in we all understand the need to introduce and integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum, rather than viewing it as an add on or afterthought. However we also need to take cognisance that technology is a useful servant but as Christian Lange states, “also a dangerous master”. In this light Professor Rupert Ward will engage us in a discussion on how to make use of technology enhanced and blended learning approaches in education.’

Words and photograph: Thandiwe Jumo


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