ChooseUP Day hosted on University of Pretoria’s Virtual Campus
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Pretoria - This year ChooseUP Day was held virtually due to the pandemic and is believed to be the first of its kind for a tertiary institution in South Africa.
It was hosted on the University of Pretoria’s Virtual Campus, an online platform that allows visitors the opportunity to explore the institution’s facilities and campus life through 360-degree panoramas and videos as well as course-related information.
Vice-chancellor and principal Professor Tawana Kupe said the fact that they had managed to pull off the virtual event was very special and set them apart from other universities.
“The pandemic paralysed physical teaching and face-to-face engagements, but we were able to power on even under the circumstances.
“As a result 94% of our undergraduate courses are available online, so we are already there. These are very uncertain and difficult times but as you can see, nothing can stop us.”
Kupe said the university had received 33% of students back since alert level 3 of the lockdown. To date, it had been able to navigate the pandemic without being the epicentre of infections. He said that with matriculants receiving their results only in February next year, the university would have to adjust its calendar as well.
Kupe said the plan was to complete the academic year next year so that the academic calendar could return to normal. He noted that much of the pandemic had been very depressing but it had taught people that many things could be done online.
“Online learning gives them the future orientated skill which we could have been doing before. It can teach us the digital skills associated with the fourth industrial revolution.
“Learning is not only sitting in front of a computer alone; it is also the social interaction and the engagement we have with others,” he added.
The university combined online with contact learning.
Kupe said the pandemic was not just a disease crisis, but was also an economic, social, mental health, ecological and environmental crisis that required critical mass trans-disciplinary knowledge.
The virtual campus platform contains more than 50 new videos which specifically address frequently asked questions and additional panoramas have been added to the more than 120 panoramas already on the platform.
“With this virtual event, the university is demonstrating its ability to innovate and stay at the forefront of new exciting technological developments and at the same time ensure students have access to some of the best education in the world,” Kupe said.
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