B. Masikisiki, M. Thinyane

University of Fort Hare (SOUTH AFRICA)
Education is an essential process within a society through which knowledge and skills are taught and learned. It is a necessity of such importance within society that in some countries (including South Africa) it has been declared a basic human right. Even though everyone is granted this right to education, still not everyone in society is able to participate in formal educational training due to a number of reasons, including : financial/affordability reasons, health reasons, family commitments and responsibilities. Distance education has, in the past, been seen as a good solution to help those individuals who cannot physically attend school. In recent years however, new Information and Communication Technologies have further provided solutions towards enabling communities to have access to both formal and informal education. This is achieved through use of new learning technologies which are widely clustered as e-learning. E-Learning is sometimes defined as computer assisted learning, and also as an approach to learning that is student-centered and collaborative. Some define E-learning as a learning process enabled by interaction with digital learning content, Internet-based services and tutoring support. E-learning technologies offer learners control over what they learn, the sequence and pace at which the learning happens, and the time when learning happens, thus allowing learners an ability to tailor their experiences towards their specific personal learning objectives. E- Learning uses different learning technologies to make it possible for both students and instructors to intact with one another and share learning resources.

This research sought to investigate the role played by these learning technologies in the context of a rural South African society in terms of improving education. This was done by engaging with members of the society to undertake a detailed persona mapping, which is a technique that allows for high-level aggregation of different community members (based on factors such as their: demographics, learning motivations, learning goals, professional context) into a particular persona. After the persona mapping of the various community member further engagement with individuals who were interacting with the various learning technologies ensued in order to share their experience in terms of the pedagogy and kinds of learning styles that are deployed by each learning technology. This research investigates the efficacy of undertaking persona mapping and linking the personas to specific learning technologies in order to achieve the best fit between the individuals who use the technology to support their learning and the various learning technologies that are accessible to these individuals.