Stellenbosch University Centre for Pedagogy (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN14 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 3715-3724
ISBN: 978-84-617-0557-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 7-9 July, 2014
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The advent of online e-learning systems has opened up the possibility of reaching to previously inaccessible potential learners including in-service teachers. In South Africa there are still many teachers who are inadequately trained to teach their current mathematics students and in-service teacher training maintains a constant presence in a bid to up skill such teachers or to re-train them to take up mathematics classes with improved skill and confidence.

Aim of the study and the nature of the course design:
In this paper we analyse the effect of using the MOODLE platform as a learning management system to support an in-service course for secondary school mathematics teachers in South Africa. First we describe how the MOODLE platform was used in combination with on-campus and later off-campus contact sessions for a very widely dispersed population of in-service teachers over a four year period. Essentially, the platform was used for synchronous chats and asynchronous discussions once every month. Administratively, learning materials were placed on MOODLE and students could then access them by downloading them from connected PCs nearest to their work stations (schools). The MOODLE platform also enabled students to submit their assignments online and for lecturers to provide students with feedback. The system was also used to remind students of assignment due dates and to inform them of their marks for the graded work. The MOODLE platform provided a palpably more efficient means of communicating with students than the traditional postal (snail) system.

Results of the study:
In the first year (2009) 49 teachers were enrolled and tutored in their first year without using the platform. They were only introduced to the platform in their second year of the two-year part-time Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) course. Subsequent cohorts received their learning materials and information about assignments and contact sessions via the MOODLE platform side by side with the traditional hard copies. The 2009 cohort of 49 in-service mathematics teachers achieved a throughput of 53% conducted solely via the traditional system. In 2010 another cohort of 42 was managed using MOODLE to complement the traditional system and it achieved a throughput of 67%. The 2011 cohort of 36 also partially managed via MOODLE achieved a throughput of 61%. This suggested that complementing the traditional systems with the MOODLE platform could have improved lecturer-student interaction, the turnaround time of assignments and lecturer feedback. However, the improvements could not be solely ascribed to the MOODLE platform.

Lessons learnt from the intervention are that learners in remote rural areas still found it difficult and costly to access materials transmitted via MOODLE because of poor ICT penetration in those areas. However, with increased availability of ICT then, however, the MOODLE platform promises to be a more efficient means of supporting the in-service education of mathematics teachers.
Blended learning, MOODLE platform, learning management system, in-service teacher education, mathematics and science, teacher professional development.