University of South Africa: Digital education research fundi to share expertise at Unisa

One of the most exciting aspects of research in ODeL is that there is still so much to be discovered. Despite an exponential increase in research in the field worldwide and in South Africa over the past decade, researchers are still only scratching the surface of the possibilities that beckon in this field and grappling with the complexities of ensuring effective teaching and supporting student success and retention.

In this regard, Zawacki-Richter argues: “In any research field, it is crucial to embed a research topic into the broader framework of research areas in a scholarly discipline, to build upon the body of knowledge in that area and to identify gaps in the literature to provide a rationale for the research question(s) under investigation. Conducting a systematic review provides an excellent opportunity for this endeavour.”

Zawacki-Richter is a Professor of Educational Technology and the Dean of the Faculty of Education and Social Sciences at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg. He is also an associate editor of the journal Distance Education and a member of the editorial board of the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL), Open Learning and The Journal for Higher Education Development. He has authored more than 160 publications and served as an invited keynote speaker, chair and reviewer at many international conferences. Together with Terry Anderson, he has edited the book Online Distance Education – Towards a Research Agenda, published by Athabasca University Press (open access). He is also the founding Director of the International Center for Open Education Research (COER). His publications are available on ResearchGate and Google Scholar.

As a centre of research excellence, the 2022 Unisa ODeL Conference will provide a platform for established and new researchers to broaden their views of ODeL research – to see the bigger picture and the minor details. “The theme of the conference is, after all, ‘All Things Research in ODeL’ – a theme that invites us to open our minds, learn as much as we can, and be inspired,” says Prof Thenjiwe Meyiwa, Vice-Principal: Research, Postgraduate Studies, Innovation and Commercialisation at Unisa.