Navigate Up
Sign In

 Physics eLearning

Physics eLearning

 “Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking.”

- Carl Sagan (1996, p. 25)


In any Science field, including Physics and Astronomy, it is important to remain abreast of new online assessment methods to cater for the 21st century student (i.e. millennial generation).

The prevalent implementation of learning technologies within Higher Education (HE) in general has made it evident that eLearning serves a critical need, especially in developing-world contexts where HE institutions have limited resources. eLearning in an academic context is defined here as the use of time and space independent application(s) designed to deliver multimedia content, such as assessments, discussions and communications both to academics and students.

Emerging learning technologies (eTools) within the learning and teaching environments of physics are generally underutilised in South Africa’s HE. The need for, and use of, these eTools is of utmost importance as national HE institutions are working towards a common goal within the context of a global education transformation. The Department of Physics and Astronomy at UWC is currently making use of various eTools for both theory and laboratory sessions. With the 21st century well under way, it is still vital to introduce both academics and students to emerging technologies to enhance their current learning and teaching practices, especially within complex, developing-world contexts.

By further leveraging eTools, learning and teaching practices within the Department of Physics and Astronomy can be better aligned with the Institutional Operating Plan (IOP) White Paper of UWC (2016 - 2020). The IOP specifically states that “[s]trengthening the informed use of technologies in learning and teaching is a central feature of the plan”, and further states that the “use of technologies must be underpinned by pedagogical rationales which draw on their potential to transform learning and teaching, especially by facilitating the active participation of students” (UWC, 2016, p. 19).

In relation to the above, Physics eLearning research will focus on,

a)     alignment of emerging technologies to traditional (behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism) -and digital age (connectivism) learning theories,

b)      development of theoretical eLearning models to support the implementation of eTools within HE,

c)  design, development, integration and evaluation of eTools within Physics undergraduate learning and teaching environments,

d)      the adoption and implementation of emerging technologies by Physics academic and support staff,

e)      linking eTools to Physics and Astronomy’s curriculum design which involves multiple facets,

·         global collaboration (with instructional designers, educational technologist, academic developers, subject matter experts)

·         the use of online eTools (current and emerging)

·         evaluation of eTools (pilot projects)

·         engagement of students with 21st Century skills

f)    constantly researching the latest emerging technologies to check educational affordability/compatibility to Physics and Astronomy learning and teaching environments for both academics and students (and related alignment with learning theories),

g)  reflecting and reviewing on ‘best’ learning and teaching practices using emerging technology within department,

h)      aligning eTools use within physics to the university’s Charter of Graduate Attributes,

thus supporting the IOP’s goal of promoting learning and teaching “as a research-led process”, while further positioning eLearning as a vital role-player in promoting the Graduate Attributes (UWC, 2016, p. 16).


Published Papers


1. Van de Heyde V, Siebrits A. The ecosystem of e-learning model for higher education. S Afr J Sci. 2019;115(5/6), Art. #5808, 6 pages.

2. Van de Heyde V, Siebrits A. (2019). Higher-Order e-Assessment for Physics in the Digital Age Using Sakai. The Physics Teacher. 2019:57(1):32-34.

3. Van de Heyde V, Siebrits A. (2018). Students’ attitudes towards online pre-laboratory exercises for a physics extended curriculum programme. Research in Science & Technological Education. 2018:1-25.


Book Chapters

1. Siebrits A., van de Heyde V. (2019) Towards the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa: The African Space-Education Ecosystem for Sustainability and the Role of Educational Technologies. In: Froehlich A. (eds) Embedding Space in African Society. Southern Space Studies. Springer, Cham ​


1. van de Heyde V. Emerging eAssessment for Physics in the Digital Age using Sakai. CIECT 10th Annual Colloquium, 02 November 2017, Bellville, South Africa


1)      Sagan, C. (1996). The demon-haunted world: Science as a candle in the dark. New York: Ballantine Books.

2)      University of the Western Cape. (2016). Institutional Operating Plan 2016-2020 white paper. Retrieved from​​​


Related Links

UWC Supports Sustainability
© 2013 UWC | Disclaimer | Sign-in

Contact Centre

University of the Western Cape,
Robert Sobukwe Road,
Bellville, 7535,
Republic of South Africa | +27 21 959 2911