In June 2018 the University of Johannesburg announced a handful of fully online courses as additional offerings to their existing contact courses. This formed part of their commitment to remain leaders in technology-enhanced learning opportunities, aligned with the 4th Industrial revolution.
With the sudden lockdown of the country in March 2020, several universities had to stop all academic activities and find new ways to cope with distance learning. Due to their approach to both blended learning in existing courses and various fully online courses, the University of Johannesburg was equipped to switch to fully online education within a week and students will therefore still be able to complete the 2020 academic year in 2020.
In 2018 the Bachelor of Commerce in International Accounting was identified as one of the courses to be designed specifically for fully online delivery. The University of Johannesburg approached Eiffel Corp to assist with the content development and instructional design of this particular course, fully online course.
We asked Marelize Malan, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Accountancy, College of Business & Economics, and Programme Coordinator of this online degree at UJ, about their experience.
Why did you choose Eiffel Corp to assist you with these services?
Eiffel Corp assisted with training lecturers at the University of Johannesburg in Digital Teaching, specifically focusing on the tools that a Learning Management System has to offer. While this prepared us to utilise all the tools on an LMS, we needed further assistance with Instructional Design and Content Development as we did not have the required experience. Eiffel Corp could assist us with the knowledge, skills and offer us support and time – which we did not have.
What were the challenges your team faced throughout the process and what advice would you give to other institutions going through similar challenges?
One of the biggest challenges we faced was “where to start.” Knowing how to deliver a course and achieve its outcomes differs greatly from delivering it online. We knew it had to go through a well-thought-out process and a proper design for the course to make sense to students.
We had many stakeholders involved, with various inputs, which complicated the process. From the look and feel, to what content needed to be included, was a difficult process. My advice to others would be to look at examples of other courses and visualise what your course should look like at the end. Once you have this picture in place, it might be easier to figure out where to begin the process.
Another big challenge was, and still is how we implement online assessments and ensure that the answers are original and authentic – belonging to the student – without any outside assistance. There are several tools available, but mostly we have to relook the way we do an assessment to ensure there are mechanisms in place that prevent any form of cheating.
As with all courses, we also face the challenge of recruiting students. We need enough students to complete the course in order to establish a credible reputation for this online course. To secure student buy-in, we believe the course and the way it runs, along with the student experience of the course have to be well received. And this all starts with proper instructional design.
Feedback from our students confirmed that the well thought out instructional design certainly helped them to navigate their way through the course more easily.
How did Eiffel Corp’s services enable you as an institution to put in place this fully online course?
Eiffel Corp brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table, offering constructive input and feedback to help drive the project. They were able to share learning techniques and implementation ideas that work. Having the support in project management provided us significant assistance to ensure the project roll-out, ran smoothly.
“Everything Eiffel Corp brought to us is greatly appreciated. Eiffel Corp has become more than just an external service provider, but part of the team. It’s been a blessing”
Where to from here – What does the future hold?
We are currently tying up and finalising all the modules. We do not see major changes to the course, apart from keeping it up to date, which we owe to the well thought through Instructional Design and Content Development. Our goal going forward is to market the course and attract more students – and achieve high throughput.
“We are doing something great and new, that not a lot of other universities are doing. And we are hoping to see it grow bigger, and attract more students.”