A South African Distance Learning Case Study: Reducing Distance through Mobile Technology

Patrick Nkhangweleni Mafenya


This study grew out of the critiques of the University of South Africa’s (Unisa) failure to access all its students through the use of information communication technologies (ICTs), mobile technologies in particular. Previously, distance education universities communicated with their students mainly by post, which at times got lost or take too long to reach them. In view of the unreliability of the post method, this study seeks to explore the probabilities and cost effectiveness of using mobile technology to reduce the transactional distance that exists between student and instructor, student and peers, student and the institution. A qualitative approach was used to gather data from students and staff in order to capture their views on using mobile technologies to reduce the distance that exists between them. The research question: ‘How can Unisa as an ODL institution tap into these kinds of mobile technologies to reach and increase student participation in ODL?’ provided the focus for the study. Unstructured-interviews were conducted to capture their views. Data were collected, recorded and analysed using Coliazzi’s methodological framework. This framework was chosen because of its ability to provide clarity in the steps of analysis and was followed by an analysis of the impact that mobile technology could have on reducing this psychological distance. The study revealed that if properly utilised, mobile technology has the potential to reduce the gap between the student and the instructor, student and peers, student and the institution.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n14p276

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This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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