I hope you and your families are well.
The orientation week held to help students adapt to the new learning environment has been largely successful. I would like to thank all the staff in the faculties and in the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) who have contributed to this. We have had a record number of students accessing Vula this week. The feedback from students is that they are ready to go. We are therefore starting online teaching as planned on Tuesday, 28 April.
This said, we face the challenge of delays in the delivery of laptop computers and the settling of agreements on zero-rating data with South Africa’s cellular network providers. These delays will have a knock-on effect on the ability of some students to join in the teaching term. Since the teaching and learning offerings are asynchronous, allowing students to engage with learning in their own time, there is no risk of students missing anything. However, these students will require that course conveners are flexible in terms of submissions of work, continual assessments and other matters that may arise. I am sure we all understand that flexibility is probably one of the top qualities that we need to have in our approach to teaching at this time.
We are aware that staff and students are concerned about the viability of Friday, 8 May as the deadline to effect changes in the curriculum, specifically the dropping of courses. We are preparing a proposal for the Senate Executive Committee to extend that deadline. As soon as this is approved we will communicate the new deadline.
The next two weeks will be very important in terms of assessing how remote teaching is working, identifying problems that need addressing, and, in particular, identifying those students who need to be supported more directly or in different ways. We will keep you informed about course- and faculty-specific issues, as well as on university-wide trends.
I would like, once again, to take this opportunity, to thank academic and professional, administrative support and service (PASS) colleagues in all faculties, as well as all the academic and PASS colleagues in the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED), for rising to the challenge of offering emergency remote teaching. We keep on working together.
Until the next message, take care.
Associate Professor Lis Lange
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching & Learning
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