Major online didactics skills boost in Agri-horticulture for TVET Colleges, Launch of Moodle E Learning Platform

The establishment and launch of the Cloud based Moodle E Learning Platform related to Water Smart Agriculture went along with three training workshops, attended by 60 participants, on developing Competencies of Lecturing Staff on Blended Learning in the Northern Cape, Gauteng, and the Western Cape during this month.

The objective of the deployment at the national level of the E learning platform is to develop the skills of TVET graduates in the Agri-horticultural sector and enhance their employability by promoting on-line and blended learning specifically in remote areas. Lecturers from Vhembe, Nkangala, Motheo, Northern Cape Rural, Boland, and Elsenburg participated in face-to-face training workshops in Upington, Gauteng, and Welgevallen, the Experimental Farm Stellenbosch University.  The objective of the training workshops was to familiarize lecturing staff, that is intended to deliver online components for students, with the online content, methodologies and tools.  By using the actual online curriculum components on the E learning platform during the workshop, the competencies of staff members in online and blended learning is enhanced in a “learning by doing format.”

Based on the feedback obtained, for example by a fully embedded online evaluation in the E learning platform and by self-rating at beginning and end of the training, it was evident that the course approach and e-learning platform were regarded as beneficial to participants’ career or personal development. Participants were very pleased with their improvements in online teaching skills and spoke highly about the friendliness and smoothly use of online tools presented in the E learning platform. The strategic future of blended learning practices was highly recognized, although a need for further training and ICT infrastructure support was emphasized.

This is one of the major milestones in the Stellenbosch University (SU) and Maastricht School of Management’s (MSM) three-year Orange Knowledge Programme titled “Strengthening Skills of TVET Staff and Students for Optimizing Water Usage and Climate Smart Agriculture in South Africa”. The project is funded by the Netherlands Universities Foundation for International Cooperation (NUFFIC), through the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The full implementation of the cloud-based Moodle E Learning Platform is the result of a number of activities which include assessment of ICT infrastructure which include internet connectivity at six TVETS which include Vhembe, Nkangala, Motheo, Northern Cape Rural TVET, Boland, and Elsenburg Agriculture Training Institute (ATI).  


Activities included the development of 30% on-line content based on the revised and improved material content for national vocational skills program Plant Production 49009, particularly in the domain of Water Smart Horticulture.  This was done through full support from Agriculture Sector Education Training Authority (Agriseta)  who provided full written consent to SU and its partners for revision and republication from the of training material. Agri Colleges  International assisted in the development of online content and design of the online tools.

During the latter part of 2021 a number showcase exercises were held in order to pilot the Moodle E Learning Platform where a demo was presented to provide staff and students a “look and feel” of the of the platform (Moodle Workplace) from both a teacher and student perspective. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The full implementation of the platform will occur in February 2022 as part of the enrolment and intake of students.

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