Greetings to you all. I am writing to inform you about how the academic programme will proceed during the second term of teaching at the University of Cape Town (UCT). This message applies to undergraduate students in the faculties of Commerce, Engineering and the Built Environment, Humanities, Law and Science. Students in the Faculty of Health Sciences will be contacted separately.
I know many of you have questions and anxieties about the future of your studies at UCT during the COVID-19 crisis. Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng has already communicated to you about the need to suspend classes and close student residences.
The State of Disaster declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa forces all of us into new approaches to what we do, to help flatten the potential curve of infection.
Even with suspended lectures and closed residences, the academic programme needs to continue at UCT. The university shares with you the responsibility to parents, funders and the country at large for ensuring that you receive education in the different faculties.
To deliver the academic content planned for this year during this time of crisis, we have to move teaching and learning online. I know that this creates considerable anxiety among students because this is new and unexpected, and because some of you are living in circumstances that will make it difficult to study and work online at home. We are dealing with all these issues to ensure that no one is left behind because of the need to teach remotely online. The information available indicates that we could be working online between three and five months.
Here is the timeline for preparing for Term 2:
We have already set up a Teaching Online Task Team, where all faculties are represented along with student representation. The Task Team has support from colleagues in the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) and other units in the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED), Student Wellness, the Disability Service, the Libraries and the Information and Communication Technology Services Department. This task team is responsible leading and coordinating the process of putting all our courses online so you can access them from home.
Our work has three parts:
We are aware that for some of you access to data is an issue. Arrangements are being made by UCT, Universities South Africa (USAf) and service providers for zero-rated mobile data to specific UCT online resources, to keep the costs of remote learning as low as possible.
To better understand and support you, we will soon email you a survey about your circumstances and readiness for online learning. It is important that you complete this as soon as possible, to allow us to plan for your needs. We are preparing a start-up pack for your learning online experience, to be available to you by orientation week (6-9 April). We are setting up the necessary infrastructure and services for you to have support during this time. We are also preparing a communication to your parents, to alert them about your needs during this time and explain how they can support you.
This is an opportunity not only to continue your studies but to practice online skills that you will be able to use throughout your career. We are facing not only COVID-19, but also the fourth industrial revolution, where technology will play a more central role in everybody’s life. We recognise that there will be challenges for all of us in working this way. Your input now and feedback during Term 2 will be valuable in helping UCT to improve our approach to online teaching and learning.
We believe that you can do this and excel. Together we are going to make a success out of this crisis. Meanwhile, please use the current break to rest and get ready.
Associate Professor Lis Lange
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning
Updates will be posted on UCT’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 feature page on the UCT News website.
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