Design analysis of educational technologist's web-based teaching and learning environments in South African higher education institutions.
According to Goldstuck (2008), there were 4.6 million Internet users in South Africa for 2008 year-end. This corresponds to a penetration rate of 10.5% based on an estimated South Africa population of 43.8 million (.internetworldstats.). Given this popularity, this qualitative case study has analysed the design of Web-Based Teaching and Learning (WBTL) environments designed by Educational Technology facilitators in South African higher education institutions. The conceptual and theoretical framework for this study presents Activity Theory (AT) as a theoretical framework together with constructivist learning. It also presents the different qualities and skills utilised for WBTL facilitators. AT involves three levels in a form of a hierarchy. The three levels are “the uppermost level of activity is driven by an object-related motive (or objective) [activity level]; the middle level of individual or group action is driven by a goal [action level]; and the bottom level of automatic operations is driven by the conditions and tools of action at hand [automatic operation]” (Engestrom, Miettenin & Punamaki, 1999) Constructivism is used as a theory of inquiry. The strength of constructivism was found to be in the five basic themes identified by Mahoney (2005), six elements of constructivism discovered by Gognon and Collay (1999), levels of interaction identified by Anderson and Elloumi (2004) and components of effective Web learning and characteristics of projects or tasks. The main components of effective Web learning are student preparation, student activities, student interaction and student transfer. While working with the Web in teaching and learning this study proposed the concept of considering The Tree Three Rings Theory (TTTRT) to be used as a solution for the practice. TTTRT works with the three schools of thought (behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism). The three rings are: (1) the use of search engines in teaching and learning (easiest ring), (2) use of Learning Management System in teaching and learning (LMS) (easier ring) and (3) designing the Web for learning (programming) (the most challenging ring). The analysis of Web for learning was done by incorporating the theoretical frameworks and theories of learning; the facilitators’ frames of reference; objects; tools; rules; community; division of labour; levels of operation; and the pedagogical issues. It can be concluded that South Africa has a special need for Web-Based Teaching and Learning (WBTL) or Web learning to take the formal education to those citizens that cannot attend full-time classes.