College of College of Graduate Studies

Integrating the ℯ into ODL

Dr Cecilia Temilola Olugbara

"An open, distance and e-learning (ODeL) environment is a place to dismantle the educational system," says Dr Cecilia Temilola Olugbara, a postdoctoral fellow in the UNESCO Chair of Open Distance Learning at Unisa. Her research interests in information communication technology in science teaching and learning, science education, and language in science education have encouraged her to incorporate the use of electronics in ODL teaching, learning and research.

Shaping career in ODeL

Olugbara obtained a Bachelor of Science (Ed) with Honours in Biology from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria, in 1995. She then proceeded to obtain a Master’s degree (MBA) in Marketing, which she completed in 2003. In 2008, she obtained a Master of Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education from the University of Zululand (Unizulu), South Africa. In 2018, she acquired a doctorate in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education at Unizulu and joined Unisa in 2019 for the ODL Postdoctoral Fellowship Support Programme.

The programme seeks to provide postdoctoral research opportunities to scholars with a proven research track record. Olugbara applied for the programme to enhance and mobilise the way e-learning technologies can be integrated into the teaching and learning of science subjects at higher and basic education institutions. "The integration of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) into the education system across the world has brought about a paradigm shift from closed systems of education to open and innovative systems. ICT such as e-learning, is expected to play a leading role in innovative delivery of education as a service," she said.

Her doctoral thesis, a study on e-learning technology integration by preservice science teachers, established that in South Africa "teachers are expected to drive e-learning innovations based on their experience from teacher education programmes by integrating e-learning technologies into teaching and learning to transform the education system". The use of technologies aims to assist educators and learners to teach and understand the perceived complex nature of science subjects.

ODeL scholarship

In 2019, Olugbara presented research papers at national and international conferences under the mentorship of Prof Moeketsi Letseka, incumbent of the UNESCO Chair of Open Distance Learning at Unisa. One of her paper presentations was on full support for ODeL. "When you talk about ODeL, you are talking about how to incorporate digital technology into open and distance learning," she said.

She also presented a paper on digital storytelling for teaching and learning in ODL institutions, which deals with the way to combine multimedia tools such as graphics, audio, video and animation into the curriculum and ODeL. Her other paper looks at the support offerings/services available to students studying through ODL institutions such as Unisa.

In another research paper that Olugbara worked on, she studied factors that can influence the adoption of massive open online courses (MOOCs) in ODL institutions such as Unisa. The outcome of the paper was that interactivity can influence the researcher, the instructor and learners to adopt a MOOC for ODL. "The ‘e’ was missing in ODL; now MOOCs will create interactivity between an instructor and the students," she said. The integration of e-methodologies will bridge the gap between learners and lecturers, to improve interactivity.

Olugbara says a career path in ODeL is an opportunity to be in a lifelong learning environment with endless possibilities across different sectors in the education system.

The Open Distance Learning Postdoctoral Fellowship Support Programme at Unisa is now open to 10 doctoral graduates with an interest in ODL and e-learning. Interested? Click here.

* By Mpho Moloele, PR and Communications Assistant, Department of Research, Innovation and Commercialisation

Publish date: 2020/07/23