Representatives of the University of South Africa (UNISA), one of the largest distance learning universities in the world, recently visited Thomas Edison State College to learn how the college delivers courses via flash drives to students with little or no Internet access.
Educators from UNISA as well as North-West University in South Africa visited Thomas Edison State College on Thursday, March 22 and Friday, March 23 to learn about the college’s flash drive-based course delivery system, FlashTrack™.
UNISA officials have recently adopted a curriculum program that calls for each of UNISA’s colleges to develop online courses and courses with a similar structure that can be delivered in an offline setting. An important part of the program, which aims to help UNISA become Africa’s premier distance education provider, is the use of a system similar to FlashTrack™.
“Large parts of South Africa do not have access to the Internet,” said Dr. Henry van Zyl, vice provost of Thomas Edison State College’s Center for Directed Independent Adult Learning. “Delivering an online course in an offline setting is appealing so they can provide courses to students in these areas with little or no Internet service. Our colleagues from South Africa are interested in learning how we developed our flash drive-based course delivery system and how a similar system can be applied to their online courses.”
The college launched its first FlashTrack™ courses in 2009, which delivered an entire course completely on a two gigabyte (2 GB) flash drive and contain the same structure and functionality of a typical online course but without the need for a constant online connection. The college received the National University Technology Network’s 2011 Distance Education Innovation Award for the development of the FlashTrack™ course delivery system.
Thomas Edison State College has partnered with UNISA since 2000 to share resources and ideas about developing courses to serve nontraditional students at a distance. This week’s visit was planned after Van Zyl visited UNISA in November and presented on the FlashTrack™ to the university’s faculty members.
About Thomas Edison State College
Thomas Edison State College provides flexible, high-quality, collegiate learning opportunities for self-directed adults. One of New Jersey’s 12 senior public institutions of higher education, the College offers associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in more than 100 areas of study. Students earn degrees through a wide variety of rigorous and high-quality academic methods that can be customized to meet their individual needs. Identified by Forbes magazine as one of the top 20 colleges and universities in the nation in the use of technology to create learning opportunities for adults, Thomas Edison State College is a national leader in the assessment of adult learning and a pioneer in the use of educational technologies. The College is home to The John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy. The New Jersey State Library is an affiliate of Thomas Edison State College.