learning landscapes in southern africa


RAT Online, The Wheel Spanner: An Online Self-Defence Course

Steven Yates, Derivco
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Paper (19 pages)

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RAT Online: The Wheel Spanner

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There are new governmental regulations on bridging existing digital divides and "de-monopolizing" telecommunications and Internet broadband providers in South Africa. The requisite technology for collaborative learning platforms could indeed become more easily available in the near future. Thus it is time to act now to evaluate how these complex learning environments can be created and delivered, and what learning and evaluation approaches are appropriate. It is also time to challenge conventional beliefs of what can and cannot be learned online. With a mindset focused on facing challenges it may be possible to bridge the difficulty of access to and delivery of specialist or "hard-to-find" educational courses and knowledge. This paper is an evaluative overview of an online course in Rough and Tumble (RAT), a South African martial art. There is not much research output detailing how kinaesthetic knowledge and skills can be learned online. Research in these challenging areas may lead to some useful insights into other knowledge domains. The aim of the course is to facilitate the process of learning to use the wheel spanner, normally used for changing car wheels, for self-defence. The course is built around findings of a previous pilot online course in RAT. The researcher makes use of the "eclectic-mixed methods-pragmatic paradigm" as the main theoretical framework, which allows for various and appropriate theories and research methodologies to be included. "Development research" forms the core research methodology, allowing the researcher to carry out both formative and effectiveness evaluation. The main goal of the research project is thus for the researcher to design and deliver online courses with a theoretical framework and conduct evaluation which informs redesign of these courses. The evaluations are used to improve the learning experience for participants. The development, delivery and evaluation is therefore always in a formative state. The researcher makes use of various technologies to facilitate collaboration between course participants, including such tools as a discussion forum, live video and text chat, whiteboard, and virtual self-defence rooms. Participants also deliver learning outputs which include mind maps and video recorded assessments. The learner output is added to a RAT knowledge base called the RAT CD-ROM, which is another component of the RAT Online study. There is both positive and negative feedback from course participants, but the positive comments relate to a favourable and effective learning experience, while the negative comments relate more to technical functionality.