Students enrolled for academic programmes on the Telematic Services platform are supported by a combination of satellite, cellphone (SMS protocol) and web-based technology to create an effective virtual learning environment. In their teaching, lecturers use a continuum of learning opportunities that range from synchronous interaction (satellite-based technology) to asynchronous interaction via the LMS discussion groups, methods that combine to establish a social learning space that supports knowledge construction.
In this way lecturers can improve 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.
In this process, the type of access by the target audience and the available technology infrastructure are the two overarching factors that determine the blend of activities selected by the University.
From the studio on the Stellenbosch campus, lectures are broadcast to the learning centres all over South Africa and to one centre in Namibia, Kenya and Uganda . The integration of cellphone and web technology with 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 a passive one-way transfer of knowledge. This integrated interactive learning system is extremely appropriate for adult learning in a higher education environment.