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About this book

This book constitutes the refereed proceedings of the 47th Annual Conference of the Southern African Computer Lecturers' Association on ICT Education, SACLA 2018, held in Gordon's Bay, South Africa, in June 2018.

The 23 revised full papers presented together with an extended abstract of a keynote paper were carefully reviewed and selected from 79 submissions. The papers are organized in topical sections: playfulness, media and classrooms, academia and careers, teaching programming, adaptation and learning, teamwork and projects, learning systems, topic teaching.

Table of Contents


Invited Lecture


Information Security: Going Digital (Invited Lecture)

Because ‘going digital’ regards using digital technologies to fundamentally change the way things get done, information security is necessarily engaged in going digital. Society and science are going digital. For the sciences, this digitalization process invokes an emerging model of the science of design that incorporates the assembly of information systems from a wide variety of platform ecosystems. According to principles of bounded rationality and bounded creativity, this mode of design requires more creativity to develop needed functionality from a finite set of available platforms. Going digital requires more creativity in designers of all types of information systems. Furthermore, the designers’ goals are changing. The traditional model of information systems is representational: the data in the system represents (reflects) reality. Newer information systems, equipped with 3D printing and robotics actually create reality. Reality represents (reflects) the data in the system. This invited paper explores the example of information security. Designers of security for information systems not only must be more creative, they must design for more goals. The security task is no longer just protecting the digital system, the security task is protecting the products of the digital system. These innovations have particular implications for information systems curricula at university, too.
Richard Baskerville



Continuance Use Intention of a Gamified Programming Learning System

The gamification of education offers various advantages including increased engagement of students. Limited research is currently available that can shed light on the influence of various gamification elements in on-line learning environments on the engagement and continuance use intention of students. The objective of the study was therefore to investigate the influence of gamification elements in on-line learning environments on the engagement of students and consequently on the continuance use intention of students. The population of the study consisted of 192 second-year Information Technology students enrolled at the Central University of Technology (Free State). An on-line questionnaire was used to collect data from students. The results indicated that the rewards that students received, as well as their self-expression and status in a gamified programming learning environment are very important to enhance their engagement in these environments. Furthermore, the study revealed that meaningful experiences in on-line learning environments is the leading predictor of continuance use intention of students in gamified programming learning environments. The results of this study could assist instructors in information technology departments of higher education institutions to incorporate gamified programming learning environments into their learning offerings.
Marisa Venter, Arthur James Swart

Robotics: From Zero to Hero in Six Weeks

In the Information Technology course offered at the North-West University, students do two subject modules during their second year on Information Systems Development. During their third year the course scaffolds on this knowledge base by extending exposure to novel technologies including robotics, cyber security, etc. The focus of this paper is on the design and evaluation of the robotics project offered over a six-week period. After the project a focus group interview with several students provided feedback regarding their experience.
Romeo Botes, Imelda Smit

Media and Classrooms


Off-Task Media Use in Lectures: Towards a Theory of Determinants

A growing body of evidence indicates that university students frequently engage in off-task media use (OTMU) during lectures. While the bulk of research in this area has considered the frequency and impact of such behaviour, little work concerning the subjective and contextual factors that determine OTMU in academic settings has been conducted. In this study we adopt a qualitative approach to consider the determinants of this behaviour. Seven key factors that determine students’ OTMU in lectures are identified: OTMU policy, OTMU norms, Fear of missing out, Grit, Control over technology, Quality of lecture, and Visibility of peers’ OTMU. We propose a model which specifies the relationships between these factors and discuss how institutions and lecturers can navigate the challenges posed by OTMU in lectures.
Douglas A. Parry, Daniel B. le Roux

An Evaluation of Social Media Use in the Classroom at a Traditional University

Emerging technologies, such as social media, have become essential tools to increase student-lecturer interaction, collaboration and communication in academia. Despite the popularity of social media, few lecturers use these tools for learning purposes. The purpose of the study was to evaluate social media usage in teaching and learning at a traditional university in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition (SAMR) model was used as the theoretical foundation for this study. The data was collected using a quantitative survey method. A questionnaire was distributed to the academics at the traditional university, with a response rate of 39% achieved. From these, descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data. The study found that the use of social media at the traditional university can be placed at level two of the model (augmentation) while technology use in the class is further along at the modification level. Barriers that prevent lecturers from using social media for teaching purposes included lack of management support, inadequate resources, lack of training of traditional university lecturers and resistance to change. The study, therefore, recommends that management at traditional universities should reinforce the use of emerging technologies by lecturers to improve student-lecturer interaction, communication and promoting collaborative learning amongst students.
Obrain Murire, Liezel Cilliers, Kim Viljoen

It Seems to Have a Hold on Us: Social Media Self-regulation of Students

Social media play a positive role in the lives of students by providing social networking, communication and information functionalities. However, social media also act as a distraction, resulting in multi-tasking between social media and studying which leaves fragmented time intervals for focused concentration. Self-regulation is emphasized as an essential skill necessary to manage the use of social media when planning or performing learning activities. In this paper we determine whether students are aware of the need for social media self-regulation behavior during their studies and, if so, which measures they take. Some of these include the physical removal of the phone, using technological functions to limit access (e.g. removing the battery, uninstalling apps), or sheer will-power. Nevertheless there remains a strong ‘pulling’ power of social media which makes the implementation of those plans difficult. Reasons for this phenomenon include fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) and the habit-forming nature of social media and mobile devices. Another factor is the two ‘worlds’ of social media as perceived by students: they can be used both academically and socially. How to ignore the one and focus on the other? We emphasise the importance of awareness amongst students and lecturers regarding the need for self-regulation of social media use as well as strategies to manage them.
Lushan Chokalingam, Machdel Matthee, Marié J. Hattingh

Academia and Careers


Research Barriers Experienced by South African Academics in Information Systems and Computer Science

Information Systems (IS) and Computer Science (CS) research can provide a much-needed knowledge foundation for social development, innovation and economic growth. The purpose of this paper is to determine the main research productivity barriers that affect South African academics in IS and CS; to gain an insight into what motivates or incentivizes IS and CS researchers to conduct research and publish their work; and to identify what changes are necessary in order to increase IS and CS researchers’ productivity. There were 38 respondents in this study. The main research barriers identified were: lack of adequate time for research due to too many simultaneous tasks, too many other official duties and teaching. Poor institutional support and lack of funding, reward, compensation or recognition also emerged as significant research barriers. The results from this paper aim to positively influence government policies with regards to research productivity in SA HEIs. The details of this study are available to all researchers, possibly to lobby their institutions.
Dhriven Hamlall, Jean-Paul Van Belle

Top IT Issues for Employers of South African Graduates

Technology trends and challenges in industry today are pressurising higher education institutions to rethink their curricula design, particularly for IT programmes. The World IT Project was designed to examine important issues confronting IT employers in many parts of the world. The purpose of this paper is to critically analyse the findings of a survey of South African IT employees, particularly related to the top technical and organisational IT issues faced by IT management and other IT staff. The results obtained were compared to those previously reported in earlier years, and to those of other countries that participated in the World IT Project. We found that the top technical and organisational issues in South Africa are not necessarily those receiving the most hype; rather, bread-and-butter issues such as reliable, efficient IT infrastructure or enterprise application integration are key concerns: issues often receiving insufficient attention in our academic curricula. Another important finding with educational policy implications is that the IT skills shortage is of much higher priority in South Africa than in the developed world; this highlights the need for additional resources in IT education.
Jean-Paul Van Belle, Brenda Scholtz, Kennedy Njenga, Alexander Serenko, Prashant Palvia

Towards a Knowledge Conversion Model Enabling Programme Design in Higher Education for Shaping Industry-Ready Graduates

The increase in the requirement for competent and skilled Information Systems graduates has prompted higher education institutions to adapt learning strategies. One way of achieving this is through the application of knowledge conversion processes, transforming data to capability. Knowledge conversion processes can be utilised to optimise learning in higher education institutions. The purpose of this paper is to propose a knowledge conversion model grounded in educational theory and organisational theory within a real-world context. The model was applied to an Information Systems undergraduate programme at a major higher education institution in South Africa. It was established that the Information Systems programme conformed well with the principles of knowledge conversion as it enabled industry-ready Information Systems graduates. Furthermore, the knowledge conversion model can be utilised as a blueprint for programme design as well as identifying potential gaps in existing programmes.
Hanlie Smuts, Marie J. Hattingh

Teaching Programming


Contextualisation of Abstract Programming Concepts for First Year IT Students: A Reflective Study

Higher education in South Africa must be transformed. An important dimension that can be addressed in the short term, yet will still have a significant positive impact, is the enrichment of courses with relevant content that resonates with students, i.e. to contextualise the study material. This paper focuses on enrichment of a specific introductory information technology (IT) programming course that is taught to first year students at a South African university. This course is problematic as the students fail to grasp the abstract programming concepts that are crucial for higher-order learning. They can then not apply these concepts practically; this is crucial for them so that they can become good programmers. We applied the soft systems methodology, as a reflective practice, to explore the perspectives of the students, so as to enable incorporation thereof in the teaching material and as such contextualise the material. The outcome of this study is contextualised examples and metaphors relating to the key abstract concepts that will be applied in class.
Carin Venter, Tanja Eksteen

Syntactic Generation of Practice Novice Programs in Python

In the present day, computer programs are written in high level languages and parsed syntactically as part of a compilation process. These parsers are defined with context-free grammars (CFGs), a language recogniser for the respective programming language. Formal grammars in general are used for language recognition or generation. In this paper we present the automatic generation of procedural programs in Python using a CFG. We have defined CFG rules to model program templates and implemented these rules to produce infinitely many distinct practice programs in Python. Each generated program is designed to test a novice programmer’s knowledge of functions, expressions, loops, and/or conditional statements. The CFG rules are highly generic and can be extended to generate programs in other procedural languages. The resulting programs can be used as practice, test or examination problems in introductory programming courses. 500,000 iterations of generated programs can be found at: https://​tinyurl.​com/​pythonprogramgen​erator. A survey of 103 students’ perception showed that 93.1% strongly agreed that these programs can help them in practice and improve their programming skills.
Abejide Ade-Ibijola

Motivational Value of’s Code Studio Tutorials in an Undergraduate Programming Course

As part of an instructional strategy to improve undergraduate software development students’ basic understanding of programming constructs, students completed a selection of Code Studio tutorials during the first three weeks of their programming course. Block-based environments, such as the one used by the Code Studio tutorials, typically make it easier for students to learn programming as they can focus on concepts instead of syntax. Students are, however, less likely to regard an instructional strategy as meaningful if it presents no motivational value for them. In this paper, Keller’s ARCS Model is used to organize the knowledge gained regarding student motivation and the motivational strategies supported by the Code Studio tutorials. Results obtained from analysis of numeric and narrative data collected through a paper-based self-completion questionnaire confirm the high motivation value of the Code Studio tutorials. The results provide insights regarding students’ perceptions of Code Studio tutorials as a motivational instructional strategy in an undergraduate programming course. Since students perceive the Code Studio tutorials to have some educational value, further investigations should be conducted to consider more appropriate and effective ways to integrate Code Studio tutorials with undergraduate programming curricula.
Guillaume Nel, Liezel Nel

Adaptation and Learning


Towards a Context-Aware Adaptive e-Learning Architecture

E-learning is increasingly becoming the preferred delivery mode in learning institutions as it allows any time anywhere learning. However, content delivery, access, distribution and personalization are still a challenge. Moreover, ambiguity of students during decision making for their preferred courses has not been addressed. This paper proposes an adaptive e-learning model, an architecture for the adaptation of learning course materials considering students’ profiles and their context information. Integration of fuzziness with processes of customization and selection of adequate material for the user creates a chance to build truly personalized and adaptive systems. This adaptive model is helpful in recommending course materials to students or adapting them depending on their context. It complements instructors’ efforts in the delivery of learning materials relevant to their personal profiles. An AeLModel architecture is presented taking a full advantage of ontology, tagging, and users’ feedback represented with linguistic descriptors and quantifiers. A prototype was developed and tested using 20 students in a class to assess this model’s usability in addition to its adherence to content adaptation, resulting in a 77% of acceptance. It is recommended for this to be used in improving learning processes.
George Wamamu Musumba, Ruth Diko Wario

Using Bayesian Networks and Machine Learning to Predict Computer Science Success

Bayesian Networks and Machine Learning techniques were evaluated and compared for predicting academic performance of Computer Science students at the University of Cape Town. Bayesian Networks performed similarly to other classification models. The causal links inherent in Bayesian Networks allow for understanding of the contributing factors for academic success in this field. The most effective indicators of success in first-year ‘core’ courses in Computer Science included the student’s scores for Mathematics and Physics as well as their aptitude for learning and their work ethos. It was found that unsuccessful students could be identified with \(\approx \)91% accuracy. This could help to increase throughput as well as student wellbeing at university.
Zachary Nudelman, Deshendran Moodley, Sonia Berman

AgileTL: A Framework for Enhancing Teaching and Learning Practices Using Software Development Principles

Action research is widely accepted in education circles as an effective practice that brings about change and improvement in the field. Action research is however not as commonly adopted by teachers (or lecturers) in their daily practices due to challenges that include a lack of understanding (in this context, of how to conduct action research), a lack of time, and the daunting prospect of uncertainty in the classroom. These challenges are also faced by software engineers when applied to the domain of software design and development and has been the focus of much research and methodologies aimed at overcoming these challenges. One such approach which has seen high uptake is agile software development which comprises phases that occur in cycles, a concept that is central to the theory of action research. The study, therefore, investigates whether the initial perception of similarities between action research and agile can be leveraged to guide Software Engineering lecturers in enhancing their teaching and learning practices more effectively. The result of this study is a framework that offers lecturers familiar with agile a systematic approach to improving their teaching and learning using familiar software development methods and principles. While this agile-based framework is designed with Information Technology lecturers in mind, it can hopefully be adopted in other disciplines as a framework that uses agile project management principles to overcome some of the identified challenges to carrying out action research in the first place.
Wai Sze Leung

Teamwork and Projects


The Last Straw: Teaching Project Team Dynamics to Third-Year Students

Educators in Higher Educational Institutions (HEI) are under constant pressure to improve their educational practices such as teaching. Adding to the challenges are the need to expose, and as a result equip students, with practical real life skills such as project management. Lack of behavioural aspects (also referred to as ‘soft skills’) is often identified as main contributing factor to the failure of projects. Whilst many educational programmes focus on the technical aspects of project management, the behavioural aspects of project management are often neglected. In an attempt to address these challenges, an experiential learning approach (ELA) was adopted to expose students to team dynamics and team roles. The research question was: How effective was the adoption of an experiential learning approach to introduce students to the theoretical constructs of team development and the subsequent roles fulfilled by team members? This question was investigated after allowing students to complete a team-based activity, whereby students had to build a tower using straws, sticky tape and cardboard in an attempt to identify and explain Tuckman’s phases as well as Belbin’s team roles. The findings of our study, based on survey data completed by students on completion of their activity, indicated the experiential learning approach is successful in teaching students the practical aspects associated with Tuckman’s stages of team development as well as Belbin’s team roles. The lessons learnt from this experience are given as recommendations to educators to improve the learning experiences associated with ELA in the context of project management.
Sunet Eybers, Marie J. Hattingh

A Reflective Practice Approach for Supporting IT Skills Required by Industry Through Project-Based Learning

This paper reflects on the concerns that IT graduates lack specific skills required in industry and how project-based learning (PBL) can support these skills. An overview of the instructional design of a course module containing only IT capstone projects received from industry is provided. Feedback regarding the IT skills required of graduates are identified in a pilot study using the industry partners that provided the project scopes. The qualitative data is analysed using open coding. Through reflection on the data analysis, recommendations are made towards supporting required IT skills through PBL in a capstone module in an IT degree.
Juanita T. Janse van Rensburg, Roelien Goede

Learning Systems


Enhancing Object-Oriented Programming Pedagogy with an Adaptive Intelligent Tutoring System

Challenges to teaching programming include a lack of structured teaching methodologies that are tailored for programming subjects while the benefits of providing programming students with individual attention are not easily addressed due to high student-to-teacher ratios. This paper describes how adaptive intelligent tutoring systems may represent a potential solution assisting teachers in delivering individualized attention to their students while also helping them to discover effective ways of teaching a core programming concept such as object-oriented programming. This paper investigates how adaptability in traditional intelligent tutoring systems are achieved, presenting an adaptive pedagogical model that uses machine learning techniques to discover effective teaching strategies suitable for a particular student. The results of a prototype of the proposed model demonstrate the model’s ability to classify the student models according to their learning style correctly. The knowledge obtained can be applied by educators to make better-informed choices in the formulation of lesson plans that are more appropriate to their students.
Methembe Dlamini, Wai Sze Leung

Interactive Learning of Factual Contents Using a Game-Like Quiz

Computer games are widely recognised for the attention they get from their players. Beyond mere games are ‘serious games’ created to teach specific subjects or concepts. Arguably, two of the most addictive mechanisms in serious games are: the scoring design, and the game interface. These mechanisms have been proven to increase the interest of players in such games, balancing their learning experience with the fun. Quiz systems, by contrast, are mere educational tools with little or no interesting devices. In this paper we propose a new classification for some mid-point between serious games and quiz systems, suggesting an ‘equilibrium’ by adding some fun and keeping the educational content of quiz systems. We also describe the development of a new quiz system designed with Abeced. It is designed with game-like interactive feedback mechanisms for testing students on factual contents across different subjects. Abeced, mimicking most serious games, is designed with an interesting interface and a voice feedback to enhance students’ learning experience. Students found Abeced very interesting because of its embedded game-like features.
Abejide Ade-Ibijola, Kehinde Aruleba

Lecturers’ Perceptions of Virtual Reality as a Teaching and Learning Platform

Virtual Reality (VR) is increasingly being acknowledged as a useful platform for education. In South Africa, however, VR is mainly recognized as an entertainment platform. Hence, the potential benefits of VR and its perceived ease of use within the South African higher education setting have not been widely investigated. Therefore, using the Technology Adoption Model (TAM), this paper investigates the perceived usefulness (PU) and ease of use (PEOU) of VR by lecturers. This paper also identifies the perceived challenges to the adoption of VR as a teaching and learning platform from a higher education perspective, and suggests how those challenges may be overcome.
Zhane Solomon, Nurudeen Ajayi, Rushil Raghavjee, Patrick Ndayizigamiye

Topic Teaching


Generating SQL Queries from Visual Specifications

The Structured Query Language (SQL) is the most widely used declarative language for accessing relational databases, and an essential topic in introductory database courses in higher learning institutions. Despite the intuitiveness of SQL, formulating and comprehending written queries can be confusing, especially for undergraduate students. One major reason for this is that the simple syntax of SQL is often misleading and hard to comprehend. A number of tools have been developed to aid the comprehension of queries and to improve the mental models of students concerning the underlying logic of SQL. Some of these tools employed visualisation and animation in their approach to aid the comprehension of SQL. This paper presents an interactive comprehension aid based on visualisation, specifically designed to support the SQL SELECT statement, an area identified in the literature as problematic for students. The visualisation tool uses visual specifications depicting SQL operations to build queries. This is expected to reduce the cognitive load of a student who is learning SQL. We have shown with an online survey that adopting visual specifications in teaching systems assist students in attaining a richer learning experience in introductory database courses.
George Obaido, Abejide Ade-Ibijola, Hima Vadapalli

The Impact of Enterprise Resource Planning Education: A Case Study of the University of Zambia

This paper explores the impact that ERP education has on post graduate students taking an ERP course at the University of Zambia using Sen’s capability approach. Through an interpretive case study, capabilities that are enabled by ERP education were identified. We also identified the choices and personal, social and environmental conversion factors that enabled or restricted these capabilities. The choices that impacted the capabilities were that the students were not yet looking for other jobs and they wanted to complete other studies before looking for jobs. Social conversion factors were that the ERP course content does not fit current role, ERP qualification is not valued in the workplace, ERP system is not implemented in the workplace, no role in SAP ERP system in the organisation for IT personnel, hands-on experience from labs, labs lacked an implementation aspect, and a practical local Zambikes case study. Environmental factors were that there are no jobs requiring ERP skills, employers are not aware of ERP graduates in the country and organisations look outside the country For ERP expertise. Universities integrating ERP in their curriculum can benefit from the findings of this paper as it can assist in evaluating the success of ERP education. Employers seeking to hire students with ERP skills can also benefit from this paper as it can assist them in determining how best they can benefit from skills of ERP graduates.
Mampi Lubasi, Lisa F. Seymour

Qualifications and Skill Levels of Digital Forensics Practitioners in South Africa: An Exploratory Study

Digital forensic investigations require competence in skills associated with an investigation which is often measured through qualifications consisting of scholastic education, digital forensic training, digital forensic certification, and digital forensics work-related experience. While prior research has been conducted into the qualifications of digital forensic practitioners within the South African environment, the association between qualifications and measures of skill has not been addressed. This research study utilises a conceptual research framework to test the association between qualifications and the skills levels of digital forensic practitioners in South Africa. The findings show that continuous training and the level of testimony provided by a digital forensics practitioner in a civil or criminal procedure are positively associated with overall skills level. Other factors such as formal education, number of forensics training courses, certification, and work-related experience did not have a direct association with the measured skill. Further research is hence needed to understand the role of these factors in improving skill levels.
Mannis Stenvert, Irwin Brown

Balancing Theory and Practice in an Introductory Operating Systems Course

Operating systems is one core course of many computing curricula. However, many students find the course difficult and boring as they cannot practically relate to the inner workings of an operating system. This paper presents an approach which was used in delivering an undergraduate second year introductory operating systems course with the aim of balancing theory and practice in order to keep students motivated in the course. The students, however, did not have sufficient programming background to undertake kernel-level programming projects. The approach, therefore, involved complementing theory lessons with a series of practical tasks spread throughout the whole period of delivery of the course. An evaluation of the course showed that the performance of students taught using this approach was significantly higher than those taught theoretical operating system concepts only. Through a survey, students also expressed strong satisfaction that the approach contributed to a positive learning environment as the students also specifically found the course relevant and well balanced in theory and practice.
Bennett Kankuzi


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