e-learning and distance learning debate

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    Hi everyone hope this awesome inspirational supportive group is well.  I am currently doing research and would like to hear peoples opinions on this topic.

    We have quite a few providers who we have assisted in becoming SETA Accredited with 21 of the SETAs and they now want to convert their face to face training to e-learning or distance learning.  I have been searching SAQA guidelines on this and am not coming up with anything.  When contacting some SETAs they seem to be very vague whether the provider can automatically convert and not go through any programme re-submission.

    Does anyone have any positive advice to share or cases I can refer to please?

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    Gert Bresler

    Hi Jeanine,

    Yes indeed this is a very very vague topic with many mixed signals from various training specialists.

    However, the general consensus was that outcomes-based learning is quite a learner-centred approach which requires some facilitator guidance.

    In the past we have designed simulators for the lifting and earthmoving industries very much like what one would find in pilot schools for flying aeroplanes in order to shorten the duration of a novice course and thus lower cost, time off work for learners etc.

    This was not accepted at all. If anyone could assist it would be greatly appreciated.

    These guys seem to have a solution when i asked how these courses could be offered as distance learning with no facilitator intervention whatsoever and with full SETA accreditation.

    C Okbandrias <ttsolutions1@gmail.com>

    Good day all.


    Hope you are all well.



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    Cassandra Julius

    Hi Jeanine,

    An interesting topic indeed and one that I don’t think you will get an explicit answer to. 

    I don’t believe face-to-face learning can simply be converted to e-learning. If you consider “how” you initially received accreditation, your methodology for learning delivery would have have been noted and further you would have been guided by what the unit standards outlined, i.e. what knowledge should be acquired or skills need to be demonstrated by the learner. 

    You are on the right track in doing research, however I also think you need to revisit your initial framework and actually evaluate which aspects of your learning material could be converted (if any) to e-learning. In addition, you would need to ensure no learner would be disadvantaged through lack of access to technology.

    I may be explaining the obvious? Approaching the SETA would be futile unless you actually believe and can motivate that you have a business case for restructuring your delivery mode.  

    Then, there is the issue of compliance; does your SETA acknowledge e-learning as a delivery mode or do they buy-into a blended learning approach? Gert eludes to “outcomes-based learning being a learner-centered approach” which I fully agree with, however I do think that premise can be obtained in a number of ways.

    All the best,



    Hi Charmaine 

    i am a Facilitator and interested my email is mopeli.lerato.lerato2@gmail.com.

    Thank you


    Rob Stead

    Hi Jeanine,

    Thank you for raising this important topic. I do have some experience, spanning many years, of trying to obtain recognition for an e-learning program that we had been using. The program is a Basic Computer Skills program (along the lines of the ICDL, but with some significant differences), and has been used in centres set up in rural towns and villages, as well as some peri-urban environments. To date some 1500 unemployed young people have completed the program and a high proportion of them have found jobs – mainly in their home environment.

    For many years I met and debated with the ISETT (now MICT) Seta, and the discussion always defaulted to two key issues:

    • Accreditation is based on physical factors (training room, lighting, desks,qualified facilitator, paper trail of work done culminating in a POE etc) Even the ‘Courseware’ was defined in terms of physical Manuals. e-Learning doesn’t fit with either of these.
    • Proof of competency requires some physical evidence. How can e-learning achieve this?

    The fact that e-learning can be done anywhere posed a major problem, but beyond that was the hurdle of determining how competency can be tested online, both in the sense of the competency itself and in the sense of verifying the identity of the person being tested.

    A key breakthrough came when the MICT Seta decided to dispense with paper and move fully to electronic means of recognising competency. They also implemented a category known a ‘Approval’, which applies to e-learning courseware which has no fixed abode and can be used anywhere.

    They have accepted simulation-based testing as a valid test of competency, and have agreed on a framework to deal with the verification of identity, viz:

    • Quizzes and Tests should be integrated throughout the course, so that bringing in a proxy to sit your exam would be highly improbable;
    • Doing a short Summative component of the course in a centre where ID can be confirmed,

    I think we have a long way to go to create a framework for evaluating e-learning, since the term covers such a wide range, from e-reading to simulation-based testing. That might be an interesting topic for another day, since this post has probably gone on long enough.

    But the potential is huge, and the payoff is also significant since so much of the heavy lifting can be done by the e-learning program itself, and the admin load is reduced substantially.

    Best wishes and feel free to get back to unpack some of the aspects we just touched on.

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