Cape Town – Cape universities were among higher education institutions across the country that started their second term with orientation designed to give students an opportunity to adjust to a new digital learning system.
Last week, the Department of Higher Education and Training issued directives to universities to start online learning from May 4, but yesterday some institutions started orientation to prepare students.
Department spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said: “We want a fair opportunity for completion for all students, including the fact that online, remote and flexible learning methodologies be used as best as possible taking into account institutional differences.
"Minister Blade Nzimande will make further pronouncement on the continuation of the 2020 academic year in a media briefing to be held before the end of this week.”
UWC spokesperson Gasant Abarder said because yesterday was the first day of the term using the flexible learning approach, the university would assess the situation later to see if improvements needed to be made.
The institution has appealed to the public to assist 30% of its 24000 student body that does not have access to devices such as laptops and data.
UCT’s Elijah Moholola said the university’s orientation week would run until April 25, and classes would start online on April 28.
“UCT has developed a guide to remote learning for students to use during the orientation week. This reminds students how to effectively use Vula, an internal UCT online study platform, how to organise their time, and how to keep on top of their work,” Moholola said.
“The university expects students to engage with learning for about 30 hours a week. This may be considerably less than would have been the case on campus, but it takes into account the unusual circumstances. The learning materials and lectures will be uploaded to the course sites on Vula.”
Stellenbosch University (SU) spokesperson Martin Viljoen said test and examination timetables were being rescheduled according to their amended academic calendar.
“SU has managed to procure 1500 laptops that will be made available to socio-economically disadvantaged students who have no connectivity to SU’s online learning resources.
"An SMS will be sent to students to confirm their acceptance of the offer, as well as their physical address to courier the laptop” said Viljoen.
CPUT’s Lauren Kansley said the teaching and learning continuation plan was at an advanced stage and would be communicated to staff and students.
Universities SA chief executive Professor Ahmed Bawa said the education institutions had committed to ensure every student had a fair chance to complete the academic year by restructuring it, even if it ran into the first part of next year.