The term 'telematic' refers to a method of presentation. Telematic Services manages a technology platform that integrates satellite, streaming and cell phone technology. The services are centred around the interactive broadcast studio, on Stellenbosch University's main campus. The studio can be configured to be either a formal learning environment with overhead camera, PowerPoint presentation and live interaction via WhatsApp or as an informal set for panel discussions or interviews. The studio services are offered as either direct broadcasting or by streaming via the Internet or as an edited recording, or as a combination of these three. Access to a green screen or chromakey and lightboard allows for innovative videos that can be customised to the client's needs.
The informal set can also be further configured in respect to furniture and layout, to suit the needs of the client.
Interactive broadcast studio
Telematic Services manages a technology platform that integrates satellite, streaming and cell phone technology. The on-campus studio broadcasts to 16 remote-learning centres situated across Southern Africa, and livestreams across the world. The encoded signal is transmitted from the Stellenbosch campus via the Intelsat 17 satellite at 66.0°E. The footprint covers most of the African continent. Students interact with the presenter in the studio using cell phone and web technology.
The telematic platform is also available to external clients, who can use it to enhance their corporate training and professional development offering.
The studio includes the following and can accommodate various setups:
- A formal desk with overhead camera
- A formal desk with a live audience
- An informal setup for group discussions or interviews
- Lightboard recordings
Telematic Services has four high-speed DVD burners, with the capacity to duplicate 33 DVDs every eight minutes. Each DVD has a maximum capacity of four hours of high-quality video recordings.
Academic departments may also choose to include DVDs or USB drives of broadcasts as part of the learning material for students who are too far away from learning centres. Telematic Services can courier these DVDs to students.
Students enrolled for academic programmes on the Telematic Services platform are supported by a combination of satellite, cell phone (WhatsApp) and web-based technology to create an effective virtual learning environment. In their teaching, lecturers use a connected variety of learning opportunities that range from synchronous interaction (satellite-based technology) to asynchronous interaction via the SUNLearn discussion groups. These are methods that are combined to establish a social learning space that supports the construction of knowledge. In this way, lecturers can improve their direct connectivity with students through broadcasts, but at the same time provide continued support and tracking via web-based interaction, e.g. online assessment, online tracking tools, wikis and blogs.
From the studio on the Stellenbosch campus, lectures are broadcast to learning centres all over South Africa and to one centre in each of Namibia, Kenya and Uganda. The integration of cell phone and web technology in these satellite broadcasts allows for direct two-way communication between the lecturer and the students while a lecture is in progress.
Real-time interaction between the lecturer and students, which is one of the distinctive attributes of this virtual social learning space, provides for the collaborative co-construction of knowledge, rather than knowledge being transferred in a passive, one-way manner. This integrated, interactive learning system is extremely appropriate for adult learning in a higher education environment.
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