Wits moves to online teaching amid lockdown
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Johannesburg - In an effort to not lose the academic year, University of the Witwatersrand has decided to move classes online.
In two weeks, the university plans to move classes online. Currently, the university is on recess and it is unclear when it will open again because of the 21-day lockdown imposed on the country.
From Sunday, the institution will start online orientation week to prepare students and lecturers for their new reality, according to professor Ruksana Osman, deputy-chancellor for academics. Second-term lessons will begin from April 20.
Osman said the almanac was currently being updated in conjunction with all faculties.
“All our Learning Management Systems including Wits-e (Sakai) and Moodle will be hosted in the Amazon cloud to ensure that our systems have sufficient infrastructural support and that they are able to cope with large number of users accessing the systems at the same time.”
While this might be a grand plan in ensuring that teaching and learning continues, it also poses a problem for students who have no access to the internet or computers.
“We are aware that approximately 10%-15% of students may not have access to smart mobile devices, according to the results of the biographical questionnaires conducted over the last four years by Wits’ Business Intelligence Unit, and faculties and deans have been asked to develop specific plans in this regard.”
Another issue that Wits University was mulling over is whether they can get their lessons broadcast on television.
“We are exploring working with the SABC radio and television, DStv and e.tv to determine if it is feasible to broadcast key lectures on-air.”
The institution has also worked with cellular networks to ensure that students can access selected learning sites without using data within the next 10 days.
Osman said: “There is no doubt that we will offer additional support for students when we resume contact teaching. This could include additional lectures, boot camps, comprehensive laboratory sessions and additional tutorial support.”