TUT’s online Engineering course is a first

30 May 2019

The Tshwane University of Technology’s Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) successfully presented its first, fully-fledged online course. The course, referred to as “modules” in online jargon, constituted the Research Methodology component of the Faculty’s new Master’s degree in Engineering Management, as well as the Faculty’s bridging courses. 

Prof Gerald Steyn, Research Professor at the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, played an instrumental role in the development of an online course for the Faculty.

A total of 74 students participated, of which 33 passed with distinction and eleven failed.

An international organisation, called Higher Ed Partners (HEPSA for its South African affiliate) supported FEBE in this initiative. HEPSA is an integrated provider of online programme management services to leading educational institutions worldwide.

“The teaching and learning components were offered over a seven-week period, while the eighth week was devoted to a major assignment,” says Prof Gerald Steyn, Research Professor at the Faculty who developed the online course. “In a request for feedback, most of the students said that they found the content informative and valuable. Nearly all the students, even though this was their first exposure to online education, commented on how they enjoyed the flexibility and freedom to engage at a time that suited their daily agendas,” says Prof Steyn. 

He adds that the module was perhaps more intense than conventional classroom-based learning. “Every lecture was offered as a video (prepared in Camtasia), with PowerPoint speaker notes of each video, all complemented with additional material that could be downloaded where necessary. Assessment was extremely rigorous. Each week consisted of two quizzes that were marked automatically, a discussion forum in which students must submit an essay and give constructive comments on those of two others, as well as a major assignment.”

All communication, exchange of documents and assessments were done in MyTUTor. After some initial glitches, Prof Steyn says he and the students settled in and the system ran quite smoothly for the rest of the module. An analysis of why eleven students failed show that they failed not because they struggled with the content, but mainly because they did not participate in all the assessment events.

Prof Steyn attributes the high pass rate to diligence and enthusiasm. He says that the experience of offering the course, combined with an extensive evaluation of the content and the process by students, now allow him to improve and streamline the course.

For more information on the Tshwane University of Technology, please contact Willa de Ruyter, Corporate Affairs and Marketing.
Tel: +27 12 382 5352   Email: deruyterw@tut.ac.za