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Institute for Open Distance Learning

IODL flies the Searchlight 2011 flag!

IODL hosted the 2nd Searchlight Research Writing Workshop, which was crowned Searchlight 2011. This exciting workshop took place on the 3rd and 4th of March 2011 in Kopanong Chambers, UNISA.  29 Unisa staff members across five colleges and other non-academic constituencies of the institution attended the workshop. They included senior academic, professional and administrative as well as novice ODL researchers, who were privileged to enjoy the presentations by a renown ODL scholar, Prof Asha Kanwar,  the Vice-president of Commonwealth of Learning based in Vancouver, Canada.

Other presenters at the workshop included Prof Dele Braimoh (UNESCO Chair of ODL and Director: IODL), Professor Jan Kroeze (Chair of Department, School of Computing, Prof Ansie Minnaar (IODL staff member) and Mr Vis Naidoo (Microsoft). The workshop was opened and directed by Prof Dele Braimoh who indicated that the purpose of the workshop  workshop was to provide academics involved in ODL research with the necessary tools and support in order to turn their research activities into publishable articles.

Prof Kanwar presented two talks focussing on ODL research. The first presentation on Trend and Issues in ODL Research addressed research in an ODL context and elucidated the current trends and issues regarding ODL research. The presentation concluded by mapping the way forward as regards ODL research and adding its credibility.

The second presentation was a guide to research proposal writing entitled Writing a Research Proposal/Report. Prof Kanwar provided insights which were useful to researchers and academics irrespective of their number of years in academia. The stated objectives for the workshop were achieved in that the participants identified and improved their research writing topics and started to write their ODL research articles.  Networking was done and the first steps towards achieving a community of practice in ODL research writing were established through the sharing and reviewing of each otherís research work.

Prof Minnaar welcomed the speakers and the participants on the second day of the searchlight workshop, explaining the objectives of the searchlight, the way forward and she summarised the previous dayís activities. In achieving the collaboration drive of the institute with other institutions and organizations, Microsoft was well represented at the workshop by Mr Vis Naidoo who gave attendees an inside perspective on the criteria which donors use when considering the funding of any research proposal. In his informative presentation entitled What is a good research proposal from a donorís perspective, he engaged the audience in lively discussion and insights regarding the preparation and presentation of a research proposal to a funding body. Prof Jan Kroeze gave an illuminating presentation on Trans-disciplinary research.  He introduced the audience to the Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa and gave details on how to access the journal as well as the requirements by the editors from contributors to the journal.

Lastly, participants had an opportunity to present their work and they got feedback from the facilitators for further improvement. This ODL research writing workshop was a preliminary effort for the more rigorous workshop planned by IODL later this year, particularly during the week of 3-6 May 2011.