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A Critique of Distance Learning as an Educational Tool for GIS in South Africa

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The advancement of distance learning as an educational tool for geographic information systems (GIS) has been at the forefront of educational development at tertiary institutions in the last decade in South Africa. Distance education is envisaged as a means whereby previously disadvantaged members of society, of all ages, can enrol either directly or remotely at a tertiary education institution at a reduced cost. The experiences of the UNIGIS distance learning programme at the University of Pretoria (UP) in South Africa have shown that logistical, technical and practical problems, including a high cancellation rate and the delayed completion of the programme in its entirety, abound when attempts are made to reproduce an internationally recognized distance-based course in a developing world environment. Critical success factors are identified and need to be fully satisfied before widespread GIS dissemination through distance education in South Africa can be achieved.

Keywords: Distance learning; UNIGIS; critical success factors; geographical information systems (GIS)

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03098260601033126

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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