The ecosystem of e-learning model for higher education




academic development, physics education, Sakai, digital habitat, learning technologies


We present the ecosystem of e-learning (EeL) model, which can be applied to any higher education context, and which takes full account of all inhabitants and their interrelationships, not only the components, of the e-learning food chain. Specifically, this model was applied to our context within the University of the Western Cape, highlighting the role of the academic developer within the model. A key argument advanced in this paper is that academic developers should work to reduce complexities associated with emerging e-tools. The EeL model is used to emphasise the role of academic developers as mediators between components and relationships.


  • By the application of the EeL model, it is demonstrated that the use of e-tools and their alignment with pedagogies within any context must be sensitive to the entire ecosystem, with the recognition that this is simultaneously a top-down and a bottom-up process.
  • The student must be the core focus in the adoption of emerging technologies and the learning process, but simultaneously the student can only be in focus when they are placed within their broader ecosystem – including the societal level.
  • Our findings add to the debate on physics education specifically, and more broadly by providing new ways of conceptualising an e-learning ecosystem.
  • It is advocated that an academic developer-mediator should step in to mediate between academics, tutors and emerging e-tools, through a structured developmental process for learning and teaching.
  • The EeL model can afford an insight into the processes involved when incorporating a learning management system (and emerging e-tools) into learning and teaching in higher education institutions.


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How to Cite

van de Heyde, V., & Siebrits, A. (2019). The ecosystem of e-learning model for higher education. South African Journal of Science, 115(5/6).



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