04 AUGUST 2020
What USB is doing to ensure teaching and learning continues
The COVID-19 pandemic has required universities around the world to explore online learning. The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) is no exception. Although not new – the USB has been developing its Blended Learning format since 2015 – even more digital platforms have been investigated since then.
Prof Martin Butler, Head of Teaching and Learning at USB, says the business school has introduced new technology platforms and online learning conventions for lecturers to ensure that students are able to complete their degrees in the minimum given time – without compromising on the quality of teaching and learning.
“Online classes have been designed by learning experts for delivery via various multimedia platforms. We are using technology to take the teaching and learning to the student. Currently we are using quite a few digital platforms, including Teams, Zoom and the Learning Hub,” he says.
“There are also ample online resources available to support students’ learning journey,” he adds.
USB’s lecturers have also been trained to deliver a world-class virtual learning experience prior to the pandemic and currently there are online learning conventions happening to ensure that the new Blended Learning format provides an optimal experience for USB students.
“We went on a massive remote teaching development drive to get the lecturers to use the new technology platforms effectively and to facilitate the teaching successfully. We want to ensure engaging and interactive classes for the students via the remote online classes,” Butler says.
He says the Zoom Advanced training session has especially been popular, in which breakouts, polls, sharing screen and desktop, and student interaction via chat were discussed. He says from feedback sessions that were held, 92% of the students found the remote online classes average to excellent.
“Most students have indicated that they are comfortable that they will be able to complete their studies in this manner. There has also been a 90% plus class attendance to date (June 2020).”
Comments from students include:
- “The class is amazingly interactive for an online platform.”
- “…manages to combine very interesting exercises so that I even forget we are online, and the online participation has been even better than in class.”
Butler says they have also been recording classes so that students can watch it again if they were unable to join at a specific time. “We realise that our students are people who need to work from home, with children, and they sit in front of their computer the whole day.
“This isn’t the time to sweat the small stuff. Lecturers have been encouraging five-minute breaks after every 45 minutes of class to help with online fatigue. Our students’ needs are different, but we have tried really hard to accommodate everyone and to still provide them with a quality learning experience,” he says.