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A framework for e-Learning support to language lecturers at a university of technology
This study explored the perceptions and expectations that language lecturers have of e-Learning support. E-Learning has promised to enhance teaching and learning practices and yet it has not been optimally implemented. In the current complex context of Higher education in South Africa all lecturers are confronted with challenges. Language lecturers however have added strain being tasked with preparing students from the demanding, multi-cultural and multi-lingual context to communicate academically in the language of learning and teaching across all subject areas. Universities, in line with expectations from the White Paper on e-Education (South Africa. Department of Education, 2004), require lecturers to use a Learning Management System (LMS) during academic activity even though some lecturers are reluctant, for various reasons, to do so. Lecturer support has been identified as one way in which to promote smooth and optimal e-Learning uptake. Support is a service and for that reason the service delivery industry was consulted to find possible service quality solutions in aid of the assistance for lecturers. Teaching is a highly complex activity where pedagogy is significant in the incorporation of technology, which is what the TPACK (Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge) framework underscores. This framework represents the complexity of introducing technology to teaching, considering pedagogy, coupled with CALL (computer assisted language learning), which is a contemporary research domain. To aid the lecturer in introducing TPACK a qualified and trained support service is key. The insights and perspectives of an extensive literature review about the complex context of higher education in South Africa, language lecturers, e-Learning and support as a service are presented. The rationale for the inclusion of attention to service delivery with specific focus to perceptions and expectations is investigated and key issues related to language lecturers’ perceptions and expectations of LMS support are explored. This study identifies relevant elements of a support service for technology to optimise the teaching practice of language lecturers in a complex environment of higher education. The discrepancy between intended use of LMS and actual use thereof is addressed, while a framework of gaps regarding LMS support within a university of technology in South Africa was developed. This framework can assist with optimal support and ultimately contribute to the vision for higher education in South Africa as set out by the Department of Higher Education and Training in their White Paper on post-school Education and Training (2013) calling for transformation.