Inkanyiso: Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

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Bridging the transactional gap in Open Distance Learning (ODL): The case of the University of South Africa (Unisa)

B Mbatha, L Naidoo


The aim of this paper is to map and audit the availability and use of e-learning resources by Communication Science students at the University of South Africa (UNISA), in order to ensure that they provide a seamless learning experience to bridge the transactional distance in its Open Distance Learning (ODL) context. The Communication Science students targeted were COMSA executives and Unisa Radio employees. To serve the goal of the paper the following specific objectives were formulated: to establish types of e-learning resources available at Unisa, and to identify the benefits of elearning at Unisa. This study is informed by Michael Moore’s Transactional Distance theory. This theory, which focuses on dialogue, transactional distance and telecommunication systems, has been widely applied in many similar studies. A survey research design was used whereby questionnaires were administered to all COMSA executives and 50% of Unisa Radio student employees who were chosen using simple random sampling. The data gathered was analysed using thematic categorisation and tabulation and the findings were presented descriptively. The findings indicate that Unisa provides a variety of e-learning resources for its students. In addition, computers and the internet are most useful to students’ studies. It should be mentioned that e-learning facilitates and opens avenues for effective teaching. This study focused only on the availability and use of e-learning by Communication Science students at Unisa. Therefore, it will be necessary for a broader study to be undertaken which will focus on academic and ICT staff as well as students chosen across the Unisa community.

Keywords: Open Distance Learning; E-learning; Online education; ICTs in teaching and learning, University of South Africa

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