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International Journal of Education and Practice

August 2017, Volume 5, 8, pp 127-137

Perceptions of the Open Distance and E-Learning Model at a South African University

Maureen Fikile Kunene


Neil Barnes

Maureen Fikile Kunene 1 ,

Neil Barnes 1 
  1. Department of Business Studies, Management College of Southern Africa (MANCOSA), Durban Central, Durban, South Africa 1

Pages: 127-137

DOI: 10.18488/journal.61.2017.58.127.137

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Article History:

Received: 17 April, 2017
Revised: 24 May, 2017
Accepted: 20 July, 2017
Published: 14 August, 2017


Advances in technology are classified as one of the external factors that trigger organisational change, even for Higher Education Institutions. The transition to e-learning presents new challenges as expectations and roles of employees and students evolve. The primary objective of this study was to investigate employee perceptions of the Open Distance and e-Learning model at a university in South Africa. The research questions for this study addressed factors that necessitate change and the barriers to change in Higher Education Institutions. The study further investigated the extent to which competences of employees match the strategic objectives for the ODeL business model and also recommended intervention strategies that can be employed to minimise risk and smoothen the change process when ODeL is introduced. A quantitative research methodology was used to arrive at the findings through a survey. The findings revealed that most of the employees acknowledge the need for change. But the ODeL model was not well embraced as the intervention that could solve the discrepancies. This was because results showed that some employees did not have appropriate capabilities to effect the change, the management was not perceived to give them the necessary support, and employees could not see how the ODeL intervention would benefit them.  A recommended area for further research would be on how the institution could optimise its resources for a cost-effective ODeL.

Contribution/ Originality
The primary contribution of this paper revealed that although open distance and e-learning initiatives are crucial in tertiary institutions, which have to cater for growing numbers of students, without the necessary commitment from management to allay the concerns of employees, transformative change in the form of technological advancement would be exacerbated.


e-Learning, Employee competencies, Technology.



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This study received no specific financial support.

Competing Interests:

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


Both authors contributed equally to the conception and design of the study.

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