This dissertation describes research which investigated the use of communication tools in a WebCT learning environment. The instrumental case study investigated the level and frequency of use of the web-based communication tools during a full-fledged course delivery at a university that enrols only full-time students. The unit of analysis was the case and the instruments included group interviews, observation anecdotal notes, communication diaries, focus group and a journal/logbook. A mixed qualitative and quantitative research method was used in this research. The study evaluated how the interactivity and not how either the lesson or the WebCT function. The conceptual framework focused on interactivity, features of communication tools that promote interactivity, as well as the domains such as cognition, motivation and learner interface as aspects that influence the use of communication tools. Various web-based tools were used by a sample consisting of a selected small group of IT students who participated in the study. Those communication tools were used to facilitate learning in WebCT. The results showed a total of 145 interactions for the duration of ten sessions. The WebCT communication tools supported either synchronous or asynchronous communication. Communication tools were used to retrieve information and send text-based messages to lecturers and students. Interaction at different levels was evident between student and student, student and lecturer, lecturer and student, lecturer and lecturer, as well as, student and content. In addition to the WebCT communication tools, students used extra web-based communication tools, to facilitate their learning. It was concluded that with continuous advances in information and communication technology and with ever increasing student numbers at resident universities, more tertiary institutions should offer on-line courses. More communication tools should be considered on WebCT to facilitate more interactive learning.
Dissertation (MEd (Curriculum Studies))--University of Pretoria, 2007.