Universities plan online classes during lockdown
Durban - WITH the 21-day national lockdown beginning at midnight on Thursday, universities have already begun the process of planning online courses for their students during this period
Normah Zondo, acting executive director of corporate relations at UKZN, said the institution had cutting-edge infrastructure available to provide online teaching for students with access to the internet.
“We have the University of Technology Enhanced Learning Facility which allows for unlimited recording of lecture delivery. This allows students to view their lectures as many times as they wish. The material is easily available on our Learning Management System, Moodle, through an innovative symbiosis with Kaltura, another innovative platform that allows for optimal video management,” she said.
Zondo said the College of Health Sciences preferred using the interactive services of Zoom. She said not all students had access to the internet and their Teaching and Learning Task Team was exploring alternative solutions to ensure no student was left behind.
This comes as UKZN announced this week that a staff member had tested positive for Covid-19. The staff member had been at a gathering in Johannesburg attended by people from Europe.
The national lockdown comes as more than 300 000 people around the world have been infected by the coronavirus, with more than 17 200 dying.
Mangosuthu University of Technology was also working on learning solutions for its students. Cebo Nyondo, a specialist in e-learning and educational technology, said the university had devised a plan to provide two weekly workshops on helping lecturers to develop online courses and ensure continuity in learning.
“Amid the announcement of the total national lockdown, these workshops will be facilitated online using video-conferencing technologies. In line with this, students will be provided support and advice on how to continue their learning through the use of technologies,” he said.
The Higher Education Department requested that universities complete a survey on their IT capability to offer online learning by tomorrow. The department, in partnership with the Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa, would analyse the results and identify institutions that needed help.
“The South African Institute for Distance Education has met Universities South Africa to assist in mapping out the tools institutions may be able to use to deliver online learning, taking into account the capabilities different institutions have and the devices students may have access to.
“This work will assist in putting plans in place at an institutional level for ensuring continued delivery of programmes after the recess,” the department said.
It said that it was engaging with universities and colleges on pursuing online learning, while also looking at the possibility of using readily available study guides for trimester and semester programmes and catch-up programmes for vocational programmes.