Students to study online

2020-04-29 06:03

Following the global Covid-19 outbreak, the University of the Free State announced that students will complete the first semester via an online learning platform.

The university began rolling out the online transition and orientation on 20 April, and is expected to finish on Thursday (30/04).

The immediate challenge is for students to adapt to the technological transition while trying to make up for lost time.

According to Prof. Francis Petersen, rector and vice-chancellor, universities across the world have become aware of how challenging and complex the Covid-19 reality is.

“It has become increasingly clear that uncertainty will be with us for a significant part of 2020. It is within this changing environment that the university has been planning carefully for various academic scenarios to ensure the continuation and completion of the 2020 academic programme.”

Petersen said the first-semester modules will be completed online.

“This means that all assignments will be used to assess learning, with no examinations. The examination will take place from 3 to 22 August through continuous online assessment, and the third quarter will commence on 31 August with a blend of online and face-to-face classes.

“Some modules have laboratory-based, studio-based, clinical-based, or community-engagement requirements that will be reorganised,” he said.

A specific plan regarding any formal community engagements will be prepared by the respective faculties.

He said materials to help students get ready for the start of the online academic activities have been provided through #UFSLearnOn, the university’s keep calm campaign.

Through this campaign, the university is working with academic staff to repackage learning materials.

“We are cognizant that students will not have regular access to the internet – and in some instances, no access to appropriate devices.”

According to Petersen, the university management is well aware of students’ immediate challenges to cope, connect and acclimatise to online learning.

In addition, they have to find a way to afford the data necessary to continue with their studies.

“The university, in collaboration with Universities South Africa, is continuously working on the zero-rating of websites. It has been agreed that some sites will be zero-rated in the short term, and that students will be provided with a 10-GB, 30-day data bundle.”


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