Over 1400 students received new Proline Tablet PCs as part of a Visual Learning Project which is being piloted by the College of Health Sciences (CHS) at UKZN.

The cutting-edge project is being piloted in partnership with the Information and Communication Services Division (ICS) in order to achieve a number of goals in the university’s Teaching and Learning space; particularly providing a mechanism to stream lectures live, and record lectures for later on-demand viewing.

The live lecture streaming incorporates an interactive classroom, where students can ask the lecturer questions electronically, and students can respond to questions, surveys and polls from their seats in the lecture room, or from a remote location.

College management said this new solution opened up exciting opportunities that could even allow international lecturers to lecture into the student population. The new technology would allow lecturers to reach the more remote areas of the university community; proving especially beneficial to CHS students when fulfilling the clinical service requirements of their degrees.

According to UKZN’s Chief Information Officer, Mr Richard Jansen, the Visual Learning Project is a first for South Africa, particularly the interaction built into streaming and video on-demand technology.

‘ICS is excited to test the new technology to see whether it can be rolled out into other disciplines at the University… This exercise is about seeing how it will work; finding and solving the problems as we go.’

The DVC of Teaching & Learning, Professor Renuka Vithal, welcomed the innovation. She said: ‘Harnessing available cost-effective technologies to enhance teaching and promote deep learning is one of the indicators of an effective and responsive higher education, as long as we agree that technology should not be expected to replace the teacher in the lecture room’.

The first phase of handing out tablets to medical students recently took place where ICS delivered a special presentation on how to use the new gadgets optimally. They are designed to interact with university-specific software such as Moodle and the all-new UKZNTube – eLearning platforms that will be used to teach students during the pilot project.

The Tablet PC is deemed super-fast, featuring the latest Jelly Bean Android operating system. Its trendy features include WiFi, HD Screen, Dual Core processor and Dual Cameras. Its manufacturers have coined it as “fast, fluid and extra smooth”.

 Image: Staff and students at the handover ceremony on the medical campus.

Article issued by UKZN