Eastern Cape universities prepare to move online as Covid-19 lockdown continues

Rhodes University is one of three Eastern Cape universities making preparation for distance learning in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Rhodes University is one of three Eastern Cape universities making preparation for distance learning in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Image: FILE

Eastern Cape universities are moving study material and instruction to remote learning to try and halt the spread of the coronavirus. DispatchLIVE can reveal that three universities – Walter Sisulu University (WSU), University of Fort Hare (UFH) and Rhodes University – are making preparations for virtual learning, which is aimed at keeping thousands of students up to date with their work despite the national coronavirus lock down.

Confirming the developments on Wednesday evening, Rhodes University spokesperson Velisile Bukula said that the university has turned to its alumni, business and members of the public for help to mobilise resources to ensure successful completion of the 2020 academic year.

We have to get our academic project going as best we could in the circumstances and to keep our quality

“We have to get our academic project going as best we could in the circumstances and to keep our quality. We also know that given the experience of other countries, and the need to adhere to physical distancing, it might not be possible, in the short-term, to return to in person teaching.

Said Bukula, “In the midst of all the uncertainty we have a duty to adapt our teaching and learning arrangements to ensure that our students are able to continue with their studies. We are gearing up for a major and quick transition into digital delivery of teaching and learning.”

UFH director of institutional advancement, Tandi Mapukata, said the university has not completely switched over to e-learning as the majority of UFH students have connectivity challenges and slow network connectivity in some rural areas. However, learning materials continue to be uploaded on an e-learning platform known as Blackboard, she said.

WSU spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo said, “We have two online teaching applications, BlackBoard and WiseUp. Our IT department and Academics are working on rolling these out. We are still testing among students to see whether they are able to access these two platforms remotely.”


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