Online learning, our new norm

Up until a few months ago, learning online was a choice. An individual could choose to study full-time, part-time, online or choose a combination of online and face-to-face, also known as blended learning. The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated the move to online teaching and learning, which brings with it a world of opportunities and challenges. 


IIE Rosebank College believes in the value of online learning to encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing between educators and students. “Producing world-class IIE graduates is our mission. We believe skills such as online collaboration can prepare students for the new world of work”, says Adrian Garden, Teaching and Learning Manager at IIE Rosebank College.


At IIE Rosebank College, we have long embraced online teaching and learning for our IIE Distance Learning and blended learning students. Most full-time IIE qualifications include an online module empowering our full-time students to also collaborate and learn online. A fundamental tool to support this experience is the Blackboard-based Learning Management System (LMS), called RCLearn.  


What is Blackboard?

Blackboard is a Learning Management System (LMS) that can be used for teaching and learning online or in a blended environment. It encourages collaborative learning and knowledge sharing proving that education can be both versatile and flexible. 


How does it work? 

The IIE LMS content is designed to encourage 21st century skills. Students engage with the content, their lecturers and each other using designated tools within the LMS platform to support learning. These tools include discussion forums, wikis, blogs and journal entries. Another feature of Blackboard is Blackboard Collaborate, in which participants do not meet face-to-face but rather interact, collaborate and communicate online. Lectures and assessments also happen online. 


Benefits of using the Blackboard App 

Using Blackboard has many advantages, such as collaborative learning and the ability to study while off-campus. Given the cost of data in South Africa, we found the offline capability of Blackboard quite impressive. The offline content feature empowers students to download course content while online, and then to continue working while offline, using the downloaded material. The auto-sync feature enables downloads to be updated the next time there is an online connection. In addition to viewing downloaded course content offline, one can navigate some portions of the Blackboard App without an active network connection. These include assignment due dates and announcements.  


Online learning is convenient and has an element of collaboration encouraging students to acquire soft skills such as teamwork, creativity and problem-solving. IIE graduates from Rosebank College attest to the benefits of studying online. 


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