UFH e-Learning Programme scoops 2nd place at international learning technology awards ceremony

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The Faculty of Management and Commerce is the proud winner of a Silver Award in the category of Best International Digital Transformation of a Training Programme in Response to Covid-19. Developed by Mr Daylan Staude, a Senior Lecturer in Accounting Taxation.

The accolade was bestowed upon the University of Fort Hare by the Learning Technologies Awards during a virtual awards gala dinner held on 18 November 2020. The UK based body seeks to showcase some of the most recognisable, memorable, and life-changing e-learning methods used by organizations worldwide. The awards are internationally recognised and are open to organisations of all sizes that offer outstanding learning technologies. 

This year, organisers received over 350 entrants from 34 countries. With 26 categories, the entrants were independently judged against the highest and most rigorous standards which included a Zoom interview and a question and answer session. At the end of the judging session the top three winners were selected in each category - Gold for first place, Silver in second and Bronze for third place.

In the Best International digital transformation of training Programme in response to Covid-19 category, the UFH was nominated alongside organizations such as the British Council, The Open University of Hong King and Xprtise and Erasmus MC.

 The winners in this category are as follows:

• Gold - Hasso Plattner Institute for Digital Engineering GmbH

• Silver - University of Fort Hare

• Bronze - Xprtise and Erasmus MC.

Congratulating Mr Staude and the UFH, the judges wrote:

“We were blown away with what one person can achieve with so little budget and resources. Overcoming significant challenges including low internet coverage, lack of ICT equipment and poor digital literacy Daylan designed an inspiring programme using an imaginative, well-designed data-friendly blend of videos, WhatsApp and downloadable content to keep his accounting students connected, motivated and achieving their targets purely via their mobile phones. A replicable model and inspiring story.”

Inspiration behind e-learning programme

When President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the Covid-19 lockdown on 26 March 2020, Mr Staude instantly thought about the effect this would have on the UFH 111 Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting (PGDA) students. In order to be admitted as Chattered Accountants, PGDA candidates have to sit for SAICA exams that are normally written in January. Due to Covid-19, the exams have since moved to April.

He shifted gears to adapt to what would later be known as the “new norm”.

“Instead of waiting for things to go back to normal, I worked even harder to prepare for what was uncertain at the time”, explained Staude. Whilst developing the online learning programme, Staude first sought to find solutions to the challenges encountered by students. “Our students in this programme are from diverse backgrounds and areas across South Africa, with the majority coming from outlying areas where there is none or poor internet coverage. During the design of appropriate e-learning initiatives, a number of constraints needed to be overcome.

Constraints:

• Non-conducive study environments and

• Lack of ICT equipment, slow network coverage and lack of data.

Solutions:

• All files were made downloadable. This allowed students to visit an area where there was network coverage to download the files needed for the week. All online material was made available in PDF format, and all video material was uploaded in MP4 format.

• Communication and student interaction was improved through a WhatsApp group. “The primary purpose of the WhatsApp group was to provide students with instant notification of content that had been uploaded on Blackboard, allowing students to consult and ask questions, and provide students with regular motivation,” he explained.

The online learning method consists of:

• Instructions folders on Blackboard, • Quizzes to assess the student knowledge and understanding

• Small and downloadable videos • Class tutorials

• Question and Answer sessions via WhatsApp or email.

“The aim is to do e-learning by sticking to the basics and using the resources that are available to me and most importantly, the students.”  After developing this method, Mr Staude shared it with Prof Vuyisile Nkonki, the Director of the Teaching and Learning Centre. “He was impressed and encouraged me to submit an entry for this award. With assistance from Institutional Advancement, I was able to package and formalize my portfolio and submitted the entry.”

“When I developed this method, I never anticipated winning an award. My aim was to find a workable solution to keep my students engaged with their studies. I would like to thank them (students) for embracing the programme, because without their participation, it becomes pointless,” said Staude proudly.

 

by Aretha Linden