Wits e-Zone Interior

In two forgotten home economics classrooms in the East Block of the Khanya Building at the Wits Education Campus at University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, AOJ have created an Adaptive Learning Environment (A.L.E.), the e-Zone, an e-Learning space which offers a glimpse of how future classrooms will be.

For the better part of five years, Therapeutic Sciences at Wits has been evolving in its use of technology in preparation of a digital e-Learning classroom environment. Aware of the changes in technology and connectivity, how quickly students are accepting new technologies and the rate they become proficient with these new technologies, Therapeutic Sciences teamed up with the Educational Faculty to create the e-Zone. The e-Zone was conceptualised as a flexible space to facilitate e-Learning. “Here learners and lecturers are equipped with the digital tools available in their professions and are able to explore learning and teaching through new technologies and software” Says Mike Rassmann.

The forgotten classrooms had to be designed to be flexible, an environment which could easily be separated into several spaces, depending on the needs of the classroom.

AOJ believe that the e-Zone is a move in the direction of blended learning, where the classroom now focuses on the student while the lecturer falls into a facilitator role. Traditionally the facilitator would push out the entire curriculum, now the curriculum is becoming available digitally on an iPad, students can watch lectures in their own time, and when they come back to the classroom with the facilitator, they are there to answer questions for those who have already gone over the material.

Digital devices are essential for this change, and although students are welcome to bring their own, the e-Zone is equipped with 120 iPads and 120 laptops which students can use to login to their own dedicated ‘site’.

Through their involvement in this e-Learning space, AOJ have contributed to the University’s work of creating environments which enable new generations – generations which have been exposed to technology and the world in a completely different way – to best acquire knowledge.

• Africanism online, Blended learning environment • Leading Architecture & Design, News article, February 12, 2019 • SA Building Review, To Build, February 5, 2019
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg