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Using technology to transform higher education

| March 9, 2012 | 0 Comments

South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, has been tasked afresh with assisting more students to access an affordable tertiary education. Similar challenges exist elsewhere in what has been called the worst global fiscal environment for higher education in years.

Yet most tertiary institutions across the globe are notoriously slow to transform their curricula to meet the demands of the 21st century, say researchers. Only just over 100 American colleges, for example, out of a total of nearly 7 000 have taken the advice of the National Centre for Academic Transformation (NCAT), a small non-profit considered to be the intellectual epicentre of the technology-based course transformation movement education in the USA.

The Polya Mathematics Centre at the University of Idaho is the jewel in NCAT’s crown. Students taking Intermediate Algebra and Pre-calculus meet with their lecturer just once a week, taking charge of their own learning the rest of the week in the Polya lab. Here they complete computer-based learning modules that present material through short videos, interactive diagrams and problems to solve. Today, report university administrators, 70% of students pass the course and the dropout rate has fallen by 20%. Moreover, the per-student cost of the course has saved the institution more than US$1 million over the last eight years.

Category: Autumn 2012, e-Education

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