South African adults working in business management and leadership roles can boost their skills via full online learning when two leading education and training institutions partner in a pilot online course (http://collegecampus.co.za/apu/) to be launched in South Africa on September 3.
College Campus, an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE), and American Public University (APU) will collaborate in offering an innovative Short e-Learning Programme in Leadership designed for managers, entrepreneurs and ambitious employees looking to improve their leadership skills. Successful enrollment and completion of the course guarantees eligible students credits towards a degree from American Public University, part of the accredited Charles Town, West Virginia-based American Public University System.
Meeting the tertiary education demand online
The collaboration between the two respected institutions will help drive the momentum and quality of distance learning in South Africa. APUS currently serves more than 100 000 students worldwide, making it one of the top online education providers in the USA.
At a recent business briefing Dr. Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and Training, stressed the important role played by both distance education and the use of information and communication technologies in increasing the number of university and college enrolments. This will form part of his strategy to prepare the 3 million youth, currently not employed or partipating in post-school education, for the workplace. He also highlighted the importance of augmenting on-the-job experience among the current adult working population with formal qualifications, making particular reference to artisans.
Locally, e-learning is rapidly gaining in popularity and is the most practical, efficient and cost-effective model to increase knowledge among students and working adults. And, as bandwidth continues to improve, it will become even more attractive to prospective students.
Between 1993 and 1999, the number of ‘distance’ students enrolled in the traditionally ‘contact’ universities of Stellenbosch and Pretoria increased by almost 500%. This indicates a growing need for learning and that the Internet provides significant new ways for engaging students in learning.
Online learning is here to stay, as president and CEO of Cisco Systems, John Chambers, prophesied in 2000:
‘The next big killer application for the Internet is going to be education. Education over the Internet is going to be so big it is going to make email usage look like a rounding error.’
The partnership, and this pilot, says College Campus Managing Director Genevieve Allen, ‘…will eventually roll out into a host of different programme offerings.’
Plans to boost online learning
When asked what advantage American Public University has over current SA e-learning platforms, Allen added: ‘Their asynchronous learning model enables students in any location with an Internet connection to log in at their convenience and work at their own pace, facilitating collaboration with both instructors and other peers outside the constraints of time and place. And their success rate is driven by the fact that they require students to participate in online discussion forums, which accounts for part of their overall marks.’
Allen says the leadership course was chosen to pilot because it is a management skill in high demand by South African students and for workers looking to upskill themselves professionally. The subject is well-covered in the American Public University curriculum, which offers a number of leadership focused modules.
“American Public University is truly excited to partner with College Campus in this milestone initiative,” said Sharon van Wyk, APUS executive vice president & chief operations officer. “We share a core mission and vision to serve working adults seeking affordable, quality online education programs to help them further advance their career goals,”
Online learning in South Africa will be boosted through the College Campus/American Public University partnership. The competent, innovative and highly efficient training infrastructure of College Campus coupled with the sophisticated and focused education programmes and online delivery of American Public University will help develop top leaders capable of exercising a positive effect on the South African economy.