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North-West University introduces a first-of-its-kind short learning programme

Covid-19 introduced a number of challenges to tertiary education, not the least of which is preparing postgraduate students to become confident researchers in their chosen field of study. This year, the North-West University (NWU) introduces a new online short learning programme (SLP) in research design that will change the way researchers learn their craft.

The SLP has been presented  as a face-to-face programme by the NWU Optentia Research Focus Area since 2014, and 2020 offered the perfect opportunity to transform this comprehensive programme to an online format to make it widely accessible to students and academics alike. The new SLP format is a collaboration between the NWU’s Centre for Teaching and Learning, Prof. Kristen Betts from the USA, and a team of 31 academics and support staff working to realise a common vision.

More than just an online format

The online SLP is not only relevant during lockdowns and pandemics, but it is also a significant improvement on the existing programme. From sampling and statistics to storyline and ethics, the SLP research methodology will have students and researchers ready to start their research with confidence.

The SLP provides learners with a crash course on research design that allows them to zoom in on specifics in their own time, while having the support and sounding board of a facilitator and fellow students. Interact123 was used to plan the online programme, and this enabled content designers to optimise student-to-content, student-to-student and student-to-instructor engagement. The SLP in research design at the North-West University utilises a learning ecosystem that is learner-centred and allows self-directed learning. Rise, ignite the spark and unlock learners’ research potential through interactive online support and expert guidance.

A generation of world-class researchers

Advances in computer hardware and software, research methods, data collection and statistical software have substantially increased our ability to conduct rigorous research. The aim of the online SLP in research design is to build the capabilities of researchers. Capabilities have three components, namely values, enablement and efficacy. The aim through the online SLP is to develop postgraduate students and researchers who value scientific methods, enable them to develop their competencies and build their efficacy.

Content integrated into Rise, Ignite, Glide and Adobe Spark is presented for participants to unlock their research potential through interactive online support and expert guidance. The online SLP consists of 160 notional hours and runs over three months. The course runs three times a year, starting in January, May and August. Please contact Lynn Booysen at Optentia for more information about the online SLP in research design – 016 910 3410 or

On 4 March 2021, from 3.30pm to 5pm, we will officially launch the SLP in research design with a webinar on online learning. Keep an eye on the NWU social media platforms for details on registration for this event.

8 Feb 2021 08:50