COVID-19 UPDATE (19) – TEACHING AND LEARNING (STUDENTS)
- Wits University
Message from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic regarding the resumption of the academic programme.
I hope that you are all well and that you are taking the necessary precautions to keep safe!
I know that many students are anxious about resuming the academic programme and doing so online.
The Senior Executive Team (SET) met recently and agreed to the following schedule:
1-14 April 2020
All academics will prepare to take lectures online.
15-19 April 2020
Online orientation begins this week for staff and students. All course outlines, lecture notes, reading lists and additional audio-visual material will be uploaded and tested during this period.
20 April 2020
The University opens for the second term and delivery of the academic programme begins online.
The almanac is currently being updated (we are consulting with faculties) and will be finalised early next week.
Learning Management Systems
All our Learning Management Systems (LMS) 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.
Access to Smart Mobile Devices
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.
We are exploring working with the SABC (Radio and Television), DStv and eTV to determine if it is feasible to broadcast key lectures on-air, particularly for those who do not have access to devices or data.
Access to Data and ICT Support
Wits has worked with Telkom, Vodacom and MTN to ensure that students can access selected learning sites without using data. Cell C is due to come on board shortly. All services will be activated within the next ten days. For a complete list of the zero-rated sites, visit: https://www.wits.ac.za/mywits/zero-rated-data-to-students-and-applicants/. Please note that students must have at least R1 worth of data loaded on a SIM card in order to access these sites. If you have any queries or concerns, please contact the ICT Service Delivery team via email@example.com or call (011) 717-1717 or log a call via https://witshelp-ism.saasiteu.com/.
You will receive a more detailed letter from the Dean of your respective Faculty later this week, followed by additional information from your School/Department and/or course coordinators. Please feel free to share your views on potential online/digital learning solutions with your respective faculties.
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 as appropriate.
We live through extraordinary times and have to develop extraordinary ways of teaching and learning. Our solutions may not be perfect but I would like to assure you that our academics and professional staff are working hard every day to ensure that we deliver a quality teaching and learning experience under the current circumstances. I know that you too will try your best to succeed. I have no doubt that we can overcome the many barriers that we will face and that together we can succeed.
Professor Ruksana Osman
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic
1 April 2020