As you are no doubt keenly aware, we find ourselves in unchartered waters in this lockdown period in response
to the COVID-19 pandemic. We trust that you and your loved ones are safe and that all the necessary
precautions are in place. As a University, we need to continue to discharge our responsibilities to one another,
and especially to our students. In order to do this, we will need to transition to online teaching and learning, a
move which will require a shift in our pedagogy. As communicated, the UJ academic term will resume on
20 April 2020, although based on all indications from government and given the nature of the pandemic, we
have taken the decision that all teaching and learning will be online until the end of Semester 1. Further details
on the academic calendar will be provided once finalised.
Extensive consultations on managing the impact and processes associated with the move to an online
environment are being held almost daily. On 1 April, the Management Executive Committee Academic (MECA)
met to discuss the impact of the current situation on teaching, learning, research and other operational areas.
In turn, the Executive Deans have provided feedback on their planning for the shift to online for the semester
and have highlighted progress made in this regard, as well as identified the challenges that may be
encountered. The responses we have received from the academics have been extraordinary and
demonstrating firm commitment towards completing the academic year. There are numerous instances of
innovation, effort and care evident in the steps and measures being effected to deliver education to our students.
Thank you for your commitment which enables us to continue to strive for excellence in teaching and learning.
The transition will, however, be easier for some than others, and certain disciplines may face more challenges
than others. Executive Deans and HoDs will remain in touch with you to deliver upon these innovative
opportunities and also discuss challenges that you may face. It is vital that we continue to converse with
colleagues and our students in this time. It is in this context that we offer a few pointers to assist in the planning
of the teaching and learning engagements online:
1. Our students have been notified of the shift to online teaching. Please do consider the unique
circumstances of the students and who’s access to the internet is dependent on data affordability,
bandwidth, network and smart device/computer availability. Communication to students from you is
going to be vital especially in these difficult times.
2. Senior tutors, tutors and assistant lecturers should be included in the teaching and learning processes.
In many situations, this group may have innovative enablers for the required paradigm shift. Please
contact the Centre for Academic Staff Development for any additional training requirements.
3. All academic staff have access to the Blackboard module ‘The UJ Online Teaching Toolkit’ which you
can find in Organisations below Courses. This guide is designed to assist you to navigate the
Blackboard environment. For questions about Blackboard or help with online teaching, email
firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Centre for Academic Technologies (CAT) ID linked to your
Faculty/College (which you will find in the module).
4. One of the particular challenges of the online environment is assessment. It may not be feasible to
replicate the standard final assessment (examination) in an online environment, as online proctoring
comes with its own set of challenges, not least of which are technological. It is strongly recommended
therefore that larger assessments be broken into smaller, continuous assessments as the best option.
For exit level modules, assessments should have appropriate external moderation. Consideration