A University of Pretoria student studying online. Picture: Jacques Naudé
Pretoria - Students at the University of Pretoria have warmed to online learning since its introduction about a decade ago.

The Blackboard learning system – clickUP – has made their lives easy and is convenient. It is easy to use and accessible anywhere and at any time, according to some of the students.

ClickUP is a learning management system, internationally known as the Blackboard, used to support face-to-face lectures. The learning system is often referred to as a second or virtual classroom.

Sebenzile Sithole said the system was easy to download and could be accessed on cellphone as well. She said the fact that notifications came in like text messages was a bonus. “Whenever a lecturer would upload a test result or assignments, a notification pops up,” she said.

However, she said the fact that they could not download assignment on cellphones was a disadvantage.

While students received updates and notifications, they still needed a laptop or computer to download the assignments, Sithole said.

University spokesperson Rikus Delport said: “We have been using the clickUP online teaching and learning platform since 2006.

“Within the South African context, the university has been one of the earliest adopters of online technology to enrich and enhance student learning when it adopted WebCT, which was later branded clickUP after the merger with Blackboard in 1998,” he said.

Delport said all students were exposed to the system and received instructions on how to use the platform.

“By 2015, more than 80 percent of all modules had a clickUP presence,” Delport said.

Statistics show that the use of Blackboard learning for the undergraduate online modules at UP have increased from 68.03 percent in 2011 to 86.52 percent in 2016.

The high level of training and large percentage of modules on the system enabled the university to finish the academic year on time despite the #FeesMustFall disruptions last year.

Delport said while they opted for a large online presence during last year's disruptions, contact teaching also continued but to a much more limited extent.

Pretoria News