Teaching and learning for contact mode learners at The IIE’s Varsity College goes online during lockdown.
The impact of the novel COVID-19 virus is strongly felt by all sectors, including higher education, within and beyond South Africa's borders. With the extension of the national lockdown by another two weeks until the end of April, the estimated 2 million students registered at South Africa's tertiary education providers (public and private) are becoming increasingly anxious about the remainder of their 2020 academic year, as a result of COVID-19.
To limit disruption of our students' academic year, at The IIE's Varsity College we have resumed teaching and learning for contact mode learners as of Wednesday 15 April, but online. A demonstration of our brand's #NewWorldThinking approach to everything we do. Our Learning Management System (VCLearn), which all students use during their studies, will facilitate this online learning.
Says Louise Wiseman, Managing Director The IIE's Varsity College: "Our priority is to ensure that our students' studies continue and that their learning experience is an enriched one, where they remain in contact with their lecturers and fellow students".
Students have been given the opportunity to prepare for this online mode of delivery in advance by completing a short learning programme made available to them on their VCLearn landing page and they will continually be guided online by their lecturers.
"We appreciate that for some students the transition from face to face contact learning to online contact learning may be daunting, but we want to assure students and parents that our support team is ready to guide and assist our students every step of the way", adds Wiseman.
Our developmental work is "data light" to ensure that students' online learning participation is manageable. VCLearn also has excellent offline capabilities which allow students to download information with which they can then engage offline and go back online as and when necessary.
Students will have access to library resources online, and the assessment tools have been modified to ensure that learning outcomes continue to be assessed while lockdown and social distancing regulations exist.
"We trust that all The IIE's Varsity College students, staff and their families are adjusting during this time and can enjoy some quality time with family," concludes Wiseman.
On a positive note, the COVID-19 threat and the approaches and efforts to overcome it could very well be a catalyst for robust changes in South African higher education. These changes could stimulate positive ongoing development of varied methods of educational delivery which may, in time, become more conventional, widely accepted and even highly regarded.