The Learner Resource Centre: A Trechnikon Southern Africa Initiative to Facilitate Access and Improve the Success Rate of our Distance Education Learners

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF2 // Student demographics in Gauteng (the most densely populated of our nine provinces) show that as many as 70 percent of our clients are full time, unemployed learners who have, for a number of reasons,(very often financial) elected to study by distance education. Many of our learners underwent an inferior schooling experience where they had little or no exposure to technology. Furthermore, the majority are learning through the medium of English, their second or even third language. These factors often culminate in a high drop-out rate and poor academic results. // Like many other distance education institutions, TSA does have a tutor system where the learner is supported by a few contact sessions and telephone assistance with tutors. However, because of the difficulties of studying through distance and their disadvantaged backgrounds it was recognized that further learner support interventions are required to assist our learners. // The Learner Resource Centres were opened in the five Gauteng regional offices at the beginning of 2001 in an attempt to deter learners from dropping out and improve their chances of passing. // This paper would discuss the establishment of the centres and how they have been structured to provide practical, computer training for information technology students, allow all learners to become computer literate, have access to library, internet and email facilities and allow computer access for research and assignment work. // A new Learner Resource Centre initiative in 2002 is the planned introduction of Peer Collaborative Learning (PCL) sessions because research has shown that learners learn most effectively from their peers. Ten high risk (high failure rate) first year subjects have been identified and trained peer-leaders will run weekly group sessions this year to assist learners and provide guidance with assignment, course and exam work in these more "difficult" subjects. Also planned for 2002 is greater involvement of the academics (both full time lecturers and part-time tutors) with both the PCL project and in subject specific video-conferences. // Technikon's Learner Resource Centres are in their infancy, but already their popularity has proved the need for such support for our learners in our developing country. This paper would be an opportunity to share our experiences of this venture with delegates from other distance education institutions and other developing regions, highlight our successes and failures and hopefully learn from others' experiences. //

South Africa