The University of Pretoria has asked students to be patient as it starts online lectures. Picture: AP
The University of Pretoria has asked students to be patient as it starts online lectures. Picture: AP

University of Pretoria online lectures start today

By Sakhile Ndlazi Time of article published May 4, 2020

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Pretoria - The University of Pretoria has asked students to be patient as it starts online lectures today.

At Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) management have asked for more time to get their ducks in row, while Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University gave a thumbs-up for its readiness to conduct online classes.

Universities in the city were initially scheduled to start online learning and teaching on April 20, but this was postponed due to the number of students who still did not have devices and connectivity.

The University of Pretoria has since delivered internet-enabled devices to students who could not afford them. TUT said it was finalising a survey to determine how many students had access to online facilities for study purposes.

Vice-chancellor and principal at the University of Pretoria, Professor Tawana Kupe, said there may initially be teething problems as they were dealing with 50000 students. He said they promised to do everything possible to resolve them as quickly as possible.

“If there are any other unforeseen problems once we go live, please contact your lecturers and/or faculties so that we can find solutions. I also ask you to please be patient as we go about our work in these unusual times. We’re used to having more than 50000 of our students, who are now at home, with us on our campuses, so we’re trying to make your devices a campus to house everyone in the digital space,” he said.

Students will simply follow their normal timetables using the relevant platforms to engage with lecturers and participate in answering and asking questions.

And to make things even easier, all telecommunications providers have agreed to give students access to UP content through the UP Connect Portal without incurring data costs.

This means that any data hosted on clickUP, other student portals, the Library’s website and staff portals is free.

According to TUT spokesperson Willa de Ruyter, they were scheduled to have a meeting today to finalise the survey and arrange a date to start online lectures.

She said the preliminary results were overwhelmingly positive, with more than 60% of students indicating that they wanted to use online learning and teaching. The distribution of responses was fairly equal across faculties, with 60.2% of senior students and 24.1% responding to the survey.

The provisional data indicated that 71.3% of students were in favour of online learning and teaching.

One of the interesting provisional findings is the preference of smartphones, with more than 24000 respondents indicating this was the device they used for online communication.

The deputy vice-chancellor at Sefako Makgatho, Professor Eunice Seekoe, said teaching staff were required to upload content and continue building courses effective immediately in anticipation of student online engagement from today.

She said that according to a survey they had conducted, 45% of their students had smartphones, 40% laptops, 10% tablets and 3% no devices.

“We remain uncertain of the other 50% of the student population who did not respond to the survey,” Seekoe said.

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