A computer mediated system for distance education.
A problem currently facing South Africa is the large number of poorly educated or uneducated people in many parts of the country. Distance education has proven to be an apt solution to this problem However, one of the numerous constraints associated with studying at a distance is insufficient communication between students and lecturers and the lack of peer interaction. The integration of Computer Mediated Communications (CMC) in the delivery of distance education courses world-wide has proved to be a means of alleviating this communication problem. The study presented in this thesis examines the technical feasibility of implementing CMC in the delivery of South African distance education courses as a solution to the communication problems experienced by distance learners in this country. For this purpose a system was developed and implemented at a South African distance education institution namely, Natal College of Education in Pietermaritzburg. Based on this implementation a technical evaluation of the feasibility of CMC in the instruction of distance education courses within a South African infrastructure was examined. As a result of this study we have been able to: • Determine the technical problems associated with the implementation of a CMC system in a South African distance education environment. • Identify possible solutions to these technical problems • Define a set of criteria, which if met by a CMC system would ensure the technical feasibility of the system as a solution to the communication problems experienced by South African distance learners. • Determine the effects of students' attitudes towards computers on their use of the CMC system. • Determine the effect of CMC on students' attitudes towards computers. • Identify any additional factors, besides technical issues, which need to be taken into account when implementing a CMC system.