Transition to remote teaching and learning at UP a success – survey

Posted on August 03, 2020

Data from a recent University of Pretoria (UP) survey shows that most lecturers and students at the University managed to move relatively seamlessly into online teaching and learning mode in light of the global pandemic.

UP’s move to continue its academic programme remotely was in response to the national COVID-19 lockdown and in keeping with the recommendations of the Department of Higher Education.

The transition was relatively smooth because in 2015 – under the leadership of the then newly appointed Vice-Principal: Academic, Professor Norman Duncan – UP transitioned to a hybrid approach to teaching and learning. The hybrid system requires all modules to have a predominantly contact teaching and learning component, as well as a significant online component.

After three weeks of remote operations, UP’s Department for Education Innovation evaluated the effectiveness of the online teaching strategy. A total of 639 lecturers completed the survey about their experience of remote teaching during the lockdown period, and 61 763 module surveys were completed by students.  

The survey indicates that UP’s existing hybrid flipped-learning model – Teach & Learn THE UP WAY – continued to work successfully even when the face-to-face teaching component could not take place and all learning had to happen remotely. The model requires students to prepare before lectures, to engage in class, and to consolidate after class. More than 6 000 positive comments about online teaching were extracted from survey data.

Participating in an online environment requires a device, connectivity, data and general computer skills. UP has secured free or cheap data for all students and, with the assistance of many donors, has loaned laptops to 1 937 students. Connectivity and electricity supply remain a challenge for a small number of students. A total of 83 students who are unable to study online have been allocated a telephone tutor.

It is also clear that the remote learning environment has several advantages, such as flexibility, working at a suitable pace, and watching and re-watching video recordings after class. However, as is to be expected, in addition to the need for on-site practicals, students miss interacting with other students and lecturers, and face-to-face class discussions.

During this period, every effort has been made to maintain communication with staff and students. Click here for our dedicated COVID-19 web page.

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