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Learning resumes at Cape universities - here's how UWC, UCT and SU are teaching

20 April 2020 5:25 PM
Tags:
UCT
UWC
Learning
university students
online learning
laptops
Covid-19 lockdown
SU
student portal
academic year

Universities across the country are scrambling to ensure that students can complete a successful academic year amid the Covid-19 lockdown.

Stellenbosch University (SU), the University of Western Cape (UWC) and the University of Cape Town (UCT) all resumed their academic work on Monday, 20 April.

UWC to identify students without devices or internet connectivity

UWC has started the second term and has asked lecturers to ease back into formal learning as students and staff reorientate themselves.

Professor Vivienne Lawack, acting vice-chancellor of UWC, says the university will spend this week identifying students without access to a laptop/desktop or internet.

A UWC student survey has found that 30% of students do not have access to devices and/or connectivity.

The university will provide additional support to the students without online resources, Lawack says. They have started a fundraising campaign to buy additional laptops for disadvantaged students.

Various faculties are exploring alternative assessments for the exam period, she adds. The 2020 academic year is expected to stretch over into January 2021.

Vodacom, MTN and Telkom Mobile have zero-rated UWC's student learning portal, iKamva.

We've started with part of our flexible learning and teaching plan, which is the online portion, today.

Professor Vivienne Lawack, Acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor - University of the Western Cape

Our plan is not an online plan, but rather a flexible learning and teaching plan to accommodate [all] students.

Professor Vivienne Lawack, Acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor - University of the Western Cape

Click here to help provide devices to needy UWC students.

Online learning at SU

At SU, online teaching has begun to mark the start of the second term.

All undergraduate teaching and assessments (including the first and second mid-year examination opportunities) will be online only.

Of the 20,000 undergraduate students at SU, 800 have been identified as needing support with online resources.

The rector and vice-chancellor of SU, Professor Wim de Villiers, says the university has purchased 1,500 laptops that will be made available to socio-economically disadvantaged students.

These will be provided to students on a loan basis - not as a donation.

The university has revised its calendar and recess periods in an effort to ensure that the 2020 academic year is concluded in December, Villiers explains.

Telkom, Cell C and Vodacom have zero-rated SU's teaching portal SUNLearn, while MTN has a daily cap of 500MB free usage.

We're still extremely hopeful to complete the academic year in December but we have arranged for additional exams in January.

Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and vice-chancellor - Stellenbosch University

I think we're well equipped to go ahead with this.

Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and vice-chancellor - Stellenbosch University

We should not underestimate the challenges for our students. It's not easy.

Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and vice-chancellor - Stellenbosch University

Read more on SU's revised academic programme here.

UCT rearranges academic calendar

At UCT, the second term has started off with an orientation week; Formal teaching starts on Tuesday, 28 April.

Lecturers have planned to teach remotely for the second and third terms. The academic year will extend well into December and will continue for some students during January and February 2021.

An online academic calendar with a reworked academic programme and additional support for students has been released to students with the approval of the Senate Executive Committee.

The university conducted a survey to determine students’ available resources for remote learning. Of the 90.4% students who had completed the the survey by 15 April, 89.5% have access to a laptop/desktop, while 1.3% had no device.

UCT has arranged for door-to-door delivery of the laptops to eligible students.

A further 91.4% of the students have internet access. The university is investigating how it can further support the 8.6% students without internet access, in addition to other measures already put in place, such as an agreement with Cell C and Telkom to zerorate access to certain UCT websites.

The university’s current planning also includes the possibility of pushing the start of the next academic year to March 2021 to allow for the successful conclusion of the academic year 2020. Any decisions regarding how campuses will reopen will be aligned with national government directives.

Read more on UCT's revised academic programme here.

Listen to the discussion on Lunch with Pippa Hudson:




20 April 2020 5:25 PM
Tags:
UCT
UWC
Learning
university students
online learning
laptops
Covid-19 lockdown
SU
student portal
academic year

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