Monday, December 12, 2016

Experiences of Students Regarding the Use of Facebook for Mentoring: A Case of Writing Centre

Over the last 15 years, many South African universities have established Writing Centres as places to provide academic writing support to their students. The services offered are mostly free and voluntary and as such, there are no strict regulations regarding who should use them, and how often they should visit. Consequently, writing centres especially the newly established ones struggle to monitor the progress of the students they have helped once they have left the place, or even reach students in the places where they continue to write in order to offer additional support to students, which could positively influence their writing self-efficacy. 

This design-based research case study reports on an intervention run by one such writing centre where social media, specifically Facebook due to its popularity among students, was explored as a technology that can be adopted to reach and offer help to students beyond the confines of its physical space. 

The study adopted Social Cognitive Theory as its theoretical framework. Eight participants from a BTech class in the Public Relations programme were purposively selected and offered an immersive eight-week experience of blended mentoring by the researcher who is also a writing centre consultant. Qualitative data was collected before the intervention using individual semistructured interviews, and after the intervention using focus group discussions. Findings from the pre-study interviews revealed that participants were mainly concerned about the protection of their privacy if social media were to be adopted for academic purposes. They also revealed that participants mostly preferred seeking help from peers. Findings further revealed that participants based their choice to seek help from a non-peer mainly on emotional reasons - preferring to seek help mainly from people they perceived to inspire positive feelings in them. 

Post-study findings revealed a positive shift in the attitudes of participants. Firstly, they were satisfied with the security settings of a closed Facebook group especially that it guaranteed non-intrusion into their personal accounts. Secondly, the social presence of writing centre consultant on Facebook increased the number of visitations to the writing centre’s Facebook site, which also directly contributed to increased face-to-face visits with the writing consultant. Thirdly, using the Facebook wall to reflect on face-to-face consultations increased opportunities for vicarious learning experiences, and thus contributed to the overall increase in the participants’ writing self-efficacy for writing task on which they were mentored. 

This study was undertaken by Khanyisile Ngodwana from the Walter Sisulu University in South Africa as part of her Master of Eduation degree at the University of Cape Town. The full study is available on: Experiences of Students Regarding the Use of Facebook for Mentoring:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

An Investigation of Mobile-Mediated Social Learning Using Socio-Constructivism

Mobile phones are hardly used for teaching and learning in the study setting, the Polytechnic of Namibia. Formal learning that is widespread in the study setting does not allow the design of authentic learning tasks. Nevertheless, mobile learning allows the design of authentic learning tasks and enables students to construct knowledge socially in an informal learning environment that facilitates interaction and collaboration. Learning is a boundless social activity that takes place through engagement with others. As learning takes place through interaction, it cannot be confined to the classroom; it should involve transition between formal and informal learning. Learning is hence not confined to didactic methods and does not only take place through transmission of knowledge. New forms of learning are emerging whereby student interaction is enabled by technological tools, unlike formal learning that does not necessitate online tools. Mobile devices might thus be used to mediate convergence of formal and informal learning. 

This study was aimed to investigate how mobile-mediated social learning converges formal and informal learning, using a socio-constructivist approach. The study was conducted in the Department of Languages at the Polytechnic of Namibia in two phases, the pilot phase that was conducted in 2012, and the main study that was conducted in 2013. The study involved a total of ten students doing Language in Practice. 

Mobile applications, social media tools inclusive, have potential to change the traditional pattern of learning. They enable social construction of knowledge. As a social media tool, WhatsApp was used in this study as a platform for the participants in the study to exchange ideas and construct knowledge collaboratively. 

The WhatsApp tool that was used in the study is popular among students and is used both in and out of the institution and could thus be used to establish convergence of formal and informal learning. In addition to instant messaging, another key affordance of WhatsApp is its ability to form a closed group of participants that interact with other iii students, the instructor and the community at large. This tool paved the way for authentic learning that led to convergence. 

The study was a case study of qualitative nature but also drew on action research, and it adopted an interpretive approach to data analysis and interpretation. Multiple sources of evidence were used to collect data, i.e. individual open-ended guided interviews, artefacts in the form of an authentic task using WhatsApp, and focus group discussion. The study revealed that the pedagogical design of an authentic task mediated by a social media tool, WhatsApp, where a sub-community of students interact with others and the larger community results in cognitive convergence of formal and informal learning. A closed group of students using the tool has potential to converge formal and informal learning cognitively through shared understanding. Thus, using a social media tool that students find motivating in an authentic context brings in cognitive convergence of formal and informal learning if the instructor observes activities and provides guidance. 

Key words: socio-constructivism, convergence, formal learning, informal learning, mobile-learning, social learning, authentic learning.

This study by Elina Ithindi of the Namibian University of Science and Technology was part of her Master of Education degree at the University of Cape Town. The full study is available from: An Investigation of Mobile-Mediated Social Learning Using Socio-Constructivism

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Using Social Media to enhance Knowledge sharing in Authentic Contexts

Social Media(SM) is one of the major ways that the 21st Century students communicate and interact with one another. This has been evidenced by wide academic research on SM usage in modern education settings. Facebook is one of the most popular SM sites visited by students on a daily basis. In this minor-dissertation, a study of Bindura University Computer Science students’ educational uses of Facebook during Industrial Attachment is explored.

Qualitative results of students' interaction on Facebook (FB) to explore authentic learning during industrial attachment are discussed. In this study, conversation analysis of Facebook posts was performed against nine elements of authentic learning by Herrington Reeves and Oliver (2010). This was done to investigate the extent to which FB supported authentic learning during Industrial Attachment programme. Students were exposed to an environment where ideas could be explored at length in the context of real situations. Experiences shared and analysed showed that tasks assigned were complex and broad enough for students to actually make decisions about how they are supposed to complete them. This qualified authentic learning during industrial attachment.

Results of this study show that social media use in education enhances knowledge sharing. Experiences and discussions analysed highly evidence the pedagogy of authentic learning during industrial attachment in the computer science programme. From this, adoption of authentic learning as a pedagogical model is suggested in response to the need to help equip students for the industry. It is also suggested that the pedagogy of authentic learning in industrial attachment programmes should be effectively appreciated in computer science. A model of Facebook as an educational resource to understand authentic learning experiences during industrial attachment is presented.

Keywords:   Industrial Attachment, Social Media, Facebook Groups, Authentic Learning, Computer Science, Online-Interaction.

This study by Tarirayi Mukabeta at the Bunidura University in Zimbabwe was part of the requirements for the Master of Education requirements at the University of Cape Town. The complete study is available on: Using Social Media to Enhance Knowledge Sharing in Authentic Contexts

Monday, November 28, 2016

Why We Need Local Entrepreneurs

Local Entrepreneur is used to refer to a resident of a country who sets up a business in the country. Is it justifiable to say that having local entrepreneurs is not vitally important in our quest to create jobs for the unemployed masses because Foreign Direct Investments could do the job? I think not and here are my reasons. First, when the need to create jobs is as dire as it is in Ghana, any means of successfully creating jobs must be considered vitally important. Secondly, local companies are needed to diversify the portfolio of employers so that when, for any reason, foreign companies are no longer able or willing to employ, the effect on the economy would be minimized. Thirdly, the country stands to benefit more from the local entrepreneur than the foreign one. Finally, even within the context of attracting foreign investments, local entrepreneurs are very important because they serve to attract foreign capital that would otherwise not have come into the country.

Local Entrepreneurs Create Jobs
That local entrepreneurs create jobs is not a matter for dispute. Mr Dominic Oduro-Antwi is a Ghanaian entrepreneur. Beginning with virtually no capital, a few years ago, he has built an admirable business that, today, employs about ten people. His company – Design House Projects – which deals in Publishing, Market Research, Architecture and Interior Design is an example of how local entrepreneurs create jobs in the country.
When looked at in light of the fact that some Multi-National Companies have been in the country for just about the same time but employ many more, one might be tempted to gloss over the contributions of such industrious local entrepreneurs in reducing unemployment. That would however be a gross mistake. In a country with so many unemployed youth, any effort to create jobs, no matter how relatively small it seems, is highly important. Job creation in a country like Ghana depends greatly on local entrepreneurs. A World Bank press release in 2006 indicated that 70 percent of the Ghanaian labour force was employed by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. (

Local Entrepreneurs Diversify ‘Employership’
There is an advantage in having an economy that consists mainly of a multiplicity of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises as opposed to one that is dominated by a few large Multi-National Companies (MNCs). In the event that these large companies fail or withdraw from the country, the aggregate effect on the economy would be greatly lowered if the economy is dominated by many small local companies. MNCs can and do fail. They also can and do withdraw from countries when they stand to gain greater profits from moving their operations to another country. This happened in Singapore in 1986 and again in 1998 when the collapse of the economies of Singapore’s neighbours offered MNCs cheaper labour in those countries. (Yew, 622) I doubt that Mr Dominic Odoru-Antwi would relocate Design House Projects in the Gambia because labour there is suddenly cheaper. An economy that rests mainly on the shoulders of many local MSMEs, and hence local entrepreneurs, should be our aspiration.

Local Entrepreneurs are of More Benefit to Us
Local companies and foreign companies are both of immense benefit to us since they create jobs for our unemployed. Local entrepreneurs, however, are of additional benefit. It is generally accepted, I think, that allowing foreign companies to repatriate profits is an important incentive for foreign companies to invest in a country. If this is true, then it is safe to say that a significant amount of the earnings of foreign companies are repatriated. Local companies cannot repatriate profits. Thus, profits from local companies are more likely to stay in the country than those generate d by foreign companies. These profits would likely be re-invested in the business or some other local business or spent on goods and services. No matter which of these ways it ends up being spent, our economy benefits. The same cannot be said of repatriated profits.

Local Entrepreneurs Enhance Foreign Direct Investments
Capital, globally, seeks to minimize risk and maximize returns. Starting a new company is a highly risky venture. Thus, a lot of times, capital is more willing to invest in an already successful venture than one that is to be started from scratch. For some capitalists, being able to show from a hypothetical Profit and Loss Statement (as in a business plan) that a venture would be successful is enough. Some other, perhaps most, capitalists prefer demonstrating profitability from real Profit and Loss Statements. To attract such capital, someone must first bear the risk of starting the venture and making it successful. That someone is the local entrepreneur and this is how local entrepreneurs enhance foreign investments. They start and build successful companies that attract global capital to grow further. Sometimes, the foreign investors merge and, at other times, they acquire.

Local entrepreneurs are vitally important in creating jobs and, thereby, in our economic development. Therefore, no efforts should be spared in encouraging entrepreneurship in Ghana and in Africa.

  2. Yew, Lee K. From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000. US: HarperCollins, 2000.
This article has been taken from a blog by Dennis Obeng which is published on:Why We Need Local Entrepreneurs

Enablers and challenges in the implementation of e-learning Policies in TVET Colleges in Zambia

This study investigated the enablers and challenges in the implementation of e-Learning policies in public technical education, vocational and entrepreneurship training (TEVET) institutions under the Ministry responsible for Vocational Education and Training in Zambia. The aim of this study was to explore how implementation of e-Learning policies in a developing context could be enhanced so as to lead to improved access to TEVET. The study was guided by the following research questions: what knowledge do managers and lecturers have of e-Learning; what are the key enablers and challenges in implementing e-Learning policy; what criteria do individuals/institutions use to make the decision to adopt or reject e-Learning innovations and how are decisions made in the implementation of e-Learning in the TEVET sector.
The study used the Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) theory to answer the main research question in the study. The theory was used to gain insights into TVET implementers and policy makers motivations and actions. The study was qualitative with seven (7) individuals interviewed. In the study, interviews of TEVET managers and lecturers were conducted to provide the data required to answer the research questions.
The study found that respondents had varying levels of experience and knowledge of  e-Learning in teaching. e-Learning was described by the participants as having some specific characteristics and also the use of devices. It was also found that teaching staff and managers had varying levels on the knowledge of national e-Learning policies. The challenges of  e-Learning policy implementation were identified around: inadequate and lack of devices, lack of adequate skills, poor attitude and poor support services. Enablers for e-Learning were found to be centred on learning facilitation, teaching facilitation, communication improvement and training.                                                                           
The study recommended increased partnership with international organisations and stakeholders in supporting and strengthening e-Learning policy implementation, a focussed roll-out of e-Learning policy implementation in TEVET institutions, the Ministry creating an enabling environment for sharing of good and best practices in e-Learning implementation.
Keywords: e-Learning, policy, e-Learning policy, policy implementation, technical and vocational education and training.
This abstract is for a study that was done as part of my Master in Education degree which I was awarded in 2015 at the University of Cape Town. The full study is available on: Challenges and Enablers of eLearning Policy Implementation in TVET in Zambia

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Top 10 Negative Effects of Facebook on Teens

teen computer

I think this should be a useful article to parents, teens, teachers and all who are concerned about teens. This article is written by published on:

Read on.

Young teenagers spend a lot of time in browsing the network, particularly, the Facebook, as they find it the best form of communication mode. The most popular mode of networking is, undoubtedly, the Facebook apart from Twitter. It is fun to use Facebook and Twitter, but there are negative influences if one spends too much time on them.
Social media is becoming popular and even official communication is carried out on them as well as personal. Yet, over usage of any media does have its impact, both positive and negative.

Before observing the negative effects of Facebook, let us have cursory look at the positive effects of Facebook.

Positive effects of Facebook:
  • Improvements in moods: As one is able to communicate with far off friends. By being in touch with friends one feels good. Mood uplifts and one feels close to one’s loved ones
  • Shyness goes away: Many teenagers go through a phase when they do not want to interact with others. Browsing on Facebook helps them communicate with others without interaction. Perhaps, the interaction can be after a relationship has developed so that the comfort levels are high when one meets each other. It is a good forum for shy children to socialize
  • Permits one to develop self-identity: Facebook is a ground for face-to-face communication which improves self-identity. One can improves one’s communication skill and also relate better to people
10 Negative effects of Facebook on Teens
  • Isolation: One can suffer from isolation as one will tend to be glued to the computer and move out of the house and meet people. Normal socializing that is interacting with people is also essential. A shy child might prefer to communicate only through Facebook only and otherwise
  • Putting on weight: One may put on weight also as one will sit in front of the computer for a long time and eat. Naturally, one will not have much exercise and they will suffer from obesity
  • Abnormal symptoms: Surfing Facebook does show abnormal symptoms among many teenagers such as depression, excessive aggression, abnormal anxiety or even normal anxiety. Those suffering from social anxiety tend to immerse themselves in front of Facebook. Teenagers usual have emotional problems and are very conscious of their self-image, their bodies and their looks. If socially, they feel inferior they tend to avoid social interactions. Obviously, they would like to spend hours sitting writing for the Facebook
  • Bad for the eyes: Too much exposure to the computer is bad for the eyes. Teenagers must go out and spend time in outdoor activities and relish the fresh air, rather than remain glued to the computer
  • Communication with strangers: On Facebook communication, it is possible that one might end up building up relationships with strangers , who can turn out to be criminals as well. Teenagers are vulnerable and are easily susceptible to outside influences. Their lifestyles are changing and want to build up relationships with people who are very hi-fi in their outlook. In this process, they try to communicate with strangers who perhaps can be very harmful to them
  • Lacks emotional connection: There is lack of emotional connectivity since one does not meet the other person. Feelings when shared in person have more impact than on Facebook. The feelings of care and warmth are there when the communication is face to face. There is a decrease in face-to face communication. Face-to- face communication helps better messaging
  • Promotes laziness: Sitting in front of computer and browsing through Facebook can lead to laziness. It is a sheer waste of time
  • Causes distractions: Browsing Facebook does distract one’s mind from many other activities. One can be involved in constructive activities that keeps one’s mind healthy. Merely spending hours on Facebook and conversing via it is not healthy
  • Lack of body language communication: Body language conveys a lot. In Facebook browsing there is no body language communication as one does not interact with another person
  • Unhealthy sex approach: On Facebook one tends to communicate on unhealthy sexual practices. There is no healthy sexual interaction as one is not meeting each other physically. Merely communicating via Facebook can prove to be detrimental to one’s overall self-image and also to mental growth. Perverted practices can be discussed or the person on the other side may be a pervert and wants to communicate sexually. Later on he or she may take undue advantage of the person’s weaknesses and try to meet the person
It is but natural that Facebook can have a positive effect as well as negative effect. Definitely, one must be careful of the negative impact of Facebook.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Studying for a Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Technology

We live in days when we cannot ignore the effects of technology on education. Technology has and changes the way teachers teach and students learn. For some educators who may wish to use technology in their teaching, the challenge is how does one best use the available technologies? What of the skills to use the technology? In some cases students are more conversant with technology than their teachers. "Most questions about Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in education have shifted from how to use technologies to understanding how to teach and learn with technologies. While there is an increasing recognition of the role of ICT in transforming both the teaching and learning practices, the lack of pedagogical knowledge among educators and practitioners is the foremost reason why emerging technologies remain unexplored in education or under utilised. 

The other challenge is the inadequate theorisation of the phenomenon of teaching with ICT as opposed to teaching ICT. This is particularly pronounced in the education systems in developing nations where much focus of ICT in education has tended to emphasise technologies that institutions provide (e.g. computers) which student do not often personally own. Thus, this postgraduate programme, jointly offered by the School of Education and the Centre for Educational Technology, and facilitated by some the leading experts in the field is one of the programmes of its kind in Africa aimed at addressing the said educational conundrum" (University Of Cape Town, 2016).

The University of Cape Town through the School of Education offers a 1 year Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Technology which could be useful to educators wishing to gain knowledge and skills in the use of educational technology. The primary objective of the Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Technology as outlined on the website is to provide potential and practicing educators, corporate trainers, and anyone responsible to e-Learning with an opportunity to understand the effects that any use of emerging technologies have on the practice of learning, and how pedagogies need to be aligned to ensure positive learning outcomes. Thus, the programme responds to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century education in developing nations through the lens of global trends.  

The programme comprises four courses, each of which must be completed.
  • Emerging Technologies in Education
  • Learning Teaching & Emerging Technologies
  • Online Learning Design
  • Research & Evaluation of Emerging Technologies
These courses are offered in block release mode i.e. pre-contact online activities, 1-week contact sessions, and post-contact independent tasks. 

2016  Dates

DateCourse Description
8 - 13 February
EDN4500W: Emerging Technologies in Education
4 - 9 AprilEDN4503W: Learning Teaching & Emerging Technologies
13 - 18 JuneEDN4501W: Online Learning Design
22 - 27 AugustEDN4502W: Research & Evaluation of Emerging Technologies
For detailed descriptions, please see the Faculty of Humanities Postgraduate Studies handbook, pages 172-173.


Competitive scholarships, courtesy of the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) through generous support of the Carnegie and Mellon foundations, are available to students who are citizens of an African nation (Terms & Conditions apply). Please contact Ms Wilma Adams (email: for application forms/procedure.
(PLEASE note that you apply to UCT and for the Carnegie/Mellon Scholarship separately. The Scholarship is a departmental initiative and is dependent on UCT admission granting us your application qualification.

Application Procedure

To make a formal application you need to complete the UCT application for postgraduate admission on or before the 31 October. Please follow the links below and complete the forms with the greatest care to detail.

Please find online application information and links below:

For any queries with your online application, please contact the Admissions Office on (021) 650 2128 or one of the staff members will be able to talk you through the process.

Other links:

When you have completed these forms, and submitted the forms with supporting documents online, please ensure that hard-copies of your certified qualifications are timeously submitted to the Admissions Office as they need to conduct thorough verification of qualification procedures. Please do not hesitate to contact the Admissions Office  (021) 650 2128 or timeously should you experience any problems with your application procedure.

Please ensure that your formal application to the postgraduate programme at UCT is as complete, clear and unambiguous as possible as your application will be judged on this to determine if it is added to the short-list or not. Short-listed candidates will be asked to complete a pre-admission task and contacted for Skype interviews in November 2015. The grading committee will make recommendations to the postgraduate office who will notify applicants regarding the outcome of their application.  

Closing Date: 31 October 2016

Please consult the Stream Leader Associate Prof Dick Ng'ambi for any queries relating to these programmes.
School of Education
Tel: +27(0)21 650 4760

Admission queries:

Mr Msakha Mona

Humanities: Postgraduate Office
Tel: +27(0)21 650 2462
Fax: +27 (0)21 650 5751

All the best! 

Festival of eLearning Conference kicks off

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