GIVEN THE INTERRUPTIONS CAUSED BY THE NATIONAL LOCKDOWN, WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE REST OF SEMESTER 1?
The UJ academic term has resumed on 20 April 2020 and based on all indications from government and given the nature of the pandemic, all teaching and learning will be online until the end of Semester 1. An amended 2020 Academic Calendar had been distributed. In addition, there will be no formal assessments or assignments for the first 2 weeks after 20 April 2020 (that is, until 4 May).
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE 2ND SEMESTER?
Teaching will be online until we have further clarity on lockdown restrictions.
HOW WILL I KEEP IN CONTACT WITH MY STUDENTS?
Many academics already use Blackboard or other online platforms to ensure contact with students. Depending on the size of your class, and the number of tutors or assistant lecturers, you are encouraged to keep in touch with your students using a variety of technologies including Blackboard, email, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or WhatsApp (provided that you do not mind sharing your cell number).
ALTHOUGH I HAVE USED BLACKBOARD, I AM NOT SURE HOW TO DEVELOP OR MIGRATE A WHOLE MODULE ONLINE. HOW DO I GO ABOUT DOING THIS?
First you need to ensure that you have access to your Blackboard modules. If you need assistance with this, go to uLink, and complete the required form under Blackboard requests. Once you have access to your modules, you can copy your module content from a previous module. All academic staff have access to a Blackboard module titled ‘The UJ Online Teaching Toolkit’. This module is on Blackboard, in the Organisations tab, below Courses. This module explains how to navigate the Blackboard environment. In addition, you can direct technical questions related to Blackboard by email to email@example.com or by contacting the Instructional Designer from the Centre for Academic Technologies (CAT) who is responsible for your faculty (contact detail in the module).
As a means of assisting in this process, you are encouraged to include the senior tutors, tutors and assistant lecturers to whom you have access, in the teaching and learning processes. Many of them will already have had exposure to the environment as both students and as staff and may be able to provide innovative enablers for the paradigm shift required. If there are any additional requirements you have, please contact the Centre for Academic Staff Development for assistance.
I AM ACCUSTOMED TO TEACHING IN A FACE TO FACE ENVIRONMENT AND HAVE ONLY USED BLACKBOARD TO PROVIDE MATERIALS. ARE THERE ANY TIPS FOR TEACHING ONLINE?
Yes, there are many resources available both online and at UJ. The best advice at the start, however, is to focus on keeping your learning material and approach simple and appropriate. There will be challenges in respect of access to technology and data, and the University is working on making these as accessible as possible. Please refer to 20 Things to consider for online teaching that contains valuable information to assist in moving online.
One of the key aspects of moving online is to maintain a caring connection with the student, and as far as possible, to provide for interaction with them. For example, it is a good idea to make short videos in which you address your students, their concerns, and the course materials. The familiarity of a lecturer’s presence may play a vital role in decreasing their sense of isolation. This sense of isolation is especially difficult for those students who are accustomed to the support they receive from classmates, lecturers and tutors. Bear in mind that longer videos require considerably more data so limit the length of videos to between 3 and 6 minutes (i.e. using 10 MB or less data). More details on the use of videos can be accessed on the ‘UJ Online Teaching Toolkit’ module on Blackboard, in conjunction with UJ Toolkit for Off-Campus Teaching and Learning.
UJ Assessment Guidelines for Learning at a Distance gives clear guidelines on how to approach online assessments.
HOW WILL I HANDLE TEACHING A LARGE CLASS ONLINE?
For all class sizes, break up the work into manageable pieces for the students. With a larger class, it may be useful to provide discussion forums in Blackboard for them to engage with one another, and with tutors in particular. Provide self-assessment exercises with instant feedback (and explanations for the answers where relevant) to minimise the need to ask / answer the same questions from multiple sources. Consider providing a ‘frequently asked questions’ section in your module. Likewise, provide links to explanatory videos online or to websites for students to work through difficult content by themselves.
I AM UNSURE HOW TO SET UP ONLINE ASSESSMENTS. WHAT WILL HAPPEN WITH THESE?
It is strongly recommended that all larger assessments be broken into smaller, continuous assessments, and that some flexibility be built into the assessment applied in respect of, for example, how the work ought to be submitted, and the format it ought to take. Consider that some students may not have access to a computer and may have to provide answers in Blackboard on a tablet, or cell phone.
Academic departments might have difficulty in managing to comply with the external moderation requirement for exit-level modules at the end of the first semester of 2020. The Executive Dean has the authority to approve exceptions to this rule and, in such instances, should retain oversight of a rigorous internal moderation process. The Executive Dean may delegate this function to the Vice-Dean Teaching and Learning. External moderation of exit-level modules remains the preferred route, even if this is restricted to a small sample, to ensure quality control over the entire assessment process.
Where possible, consider joining related first and second semester modules into one, combined module, managed as a year module for 2020. These discussions should be held within your faculty/college. A document “Guidelines for Assessment” has been shared with staff.
MY MODULE REQUIRES LABORATORY WORK /CLINICAL PRACTICE/ WIL. HOW SHOULD THIS BE MANAGED?
The Executive Deans and relevant HoDs are currently exploring how to effect the completion of practicals, lab work, and clinical placements, work integrated learning (WIL) and all other forms of direct contact sessions which are required for specific modules and will communicate these arrangements soon. Plans for postgraduate students who require access to laboratories, equipment, and other on-campus resources will also have to be devised. One consideration, for example is, where feasible, to use project-based learning (PBL) as an alternative to WIL. If your programme is linked to a professional body, especially a statutory professional body, check whether any communications regarding these requirements have been sent out.
I AM CONCERNED ABOUT MY STUDENTS’ ABILITIES TO MAKE THE NECESSARY ADJUSTMENTS, PARTICULARLY THOSE IN FIRST YEAR.
A wide range of student support is being provided across a range of areas, and in the week of 14 – 17 April online orientation for all students on how to learn online was provided. Many measures have been put in place to assist students, and steps are being taken to ensure that the messaging and communications are reaching all the students. It will no doubt be a challenging time, and it is critical that the balance between supporting the students as they move online and maintaining the academic integrity of each module is achieved. Refer your students to the Blackboard organisation; ‘Continue to Learn off-campus’, for a variety of services as well as contact detail for and information from PsyCaD. ‘On the go: SOS’ (Student Online Success) will be available to students from 4 May 2020., and will be located under Organisations, below Courses, in Blackboard. You may also contact Paulina Makibelo the UJ First Year Experience (FYE) coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any first-year-specific queries.
IS WRITING SUPPORT AVAILABLE FOR MY STUDENTS DURING THE TIME AWAY FROM CAMPUS?
The UJ Writing Centres continue to serve the student population with regard to their writing. The UJ writing consultants are available to assist your students via email until the university reopens. For students to access this service, please ask them to email a rough draft to the Writing Centre on the campus where they attend classes and make a booking as early as possible. The details for these contacts are given below.
For APK, please email to
For APB, please email to
For DFC, please email to
For Soweto, please email to
The Writing Centre (WC) consultants prefer to work in close collaboration with you. Please liaise directly with one of the following colleagues to assist you with planning a writing task with them or for enquiring about any of the Writing Centre services:
Senior Coordinator WC
IS THERE ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE TO HELP MY STUDENTS WITH THEIR LITERACIES, STUDY SKILLS, ASSESSMENT PREPARATION AND OTHER LEARNING DEVELOPMENT NEEDS?
Yes, the Academic Development Centre (ADC) staff are available to assist you and your students with their literacies and learning development needs. Students can e-mail the team of learning development facilitators at email@example.com.
Lecturing staff are also welcome to contact one of our Learning Development or literacies facilitators linked to specific Faculties and the College as indicated below:
Mathilda le Roux at firstname.lastname@example.org
I WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS STRATEGIES AND PRACTICES FOR STUDENT SUCCESS IN MY MODULE. WHO SHOULD I CONTACT?
The senior staff in ADC are always available for discussion and assistance:
Dr Andre van Zyl
Dr Graham Dampier
HOD Academic Development Innovation
Dr. Guy Mihindou
Senior Manager: Student Success
Senior Manager: Student Success
I TEACH AN INTEGRATED STUDENT SUCCESS INITIATIVE (ISSI) LINKED MODULE. WILL THIS WORK CONTINUE?
Yes. You will be contacted directly by an ISSI coordinator to discuss your module and possible interventions.
I AM TEACHING STUDENTS IN AN EXTENDED QUALIFICATION AND BEING OFF CAMPUS HAS MADE THIS EVEN MORE DIFFICULT. IS THERE ANYONE WHO CAN HELP?
ADC: Access staff have been involved in teaching extended qualifications for the past 15 years. Please contact Maxine Shandler at email@example.com to discuss any issues.
I AM CONCERNED ABOUT SUPPORTING MY STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES, WHERE CAN I GO TO FOR SUPPORT
The Disability Unit falls within PsyCaD and will provide staff with support in how to structure both content and assessments to accommodate a student with a disability. Please contact Leila on firstname.lastname@example.org for all queries and support.
I AM SUPERVISING OR TEACHING POSTGRADUATE STUDENTS – HOW DO I MANAGE THIS?
Academics supervising students and/or mentoring postdoctoral research fellows (PDRFs) should be able to continue to do so using various available platforms, as indeed many are already doing. For postgraduate students and PDRFs, supervision can continue online with communication and feedback through phone, email, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Blackboard Collaborate. As you are already aware, research funding and the Research Office remain fully operational. Online training will be made available to provide postgraduate students with assistance in applying for NRF bursaries. Research consultations are also available. For all information, visit https://www.uj.ac.za/study-at-uj/postgraduate/.
WHAT PLANS ARE IN PLACE FOR STUDENTS WHO DON’T HAVE A RELIABLE INTERNET CONNECTION? HOW WILL THEY ACCESS BLACKBOARD, ULINK, THE LIBRARY, ETC., DURING THIS TIME?
UJ has secured 30GB of data (10GB any time and 20BG night owl data) per student for 30 days and there will be a further distribution of 4000 laptops to qualifying students as part of the remote learning programme.
All updates regarding zero-rating are provided here: https://tinyurl.com/UJ-zero-rated-data
MTN, Cell C and Telkom SA have zero rated UJ’s websites as per the list below:
WILL I BE ABLE TO CONTACT SUPPORT DIVISIONS DURING THIS TIME?
All support mechanisms for academic processes remain available. For example, the Division of Academic Planning, Quality Promotion and Academic Staff Development will continue to provide its services to staff. This includes amendments to existing programmes and any concerns you may have affecting these online; new programme development, planning and implementing programme reviews; and nGAP and AAMP processes. The Centre for Academic Staff Development is moving its workshops and other engagements online and is also accessible to staff seeking assistance with the move from face to face to online. Support for teaching portfolios and other aspects related to promotion continue to be available as usual. Evaluations of teaching and learning are online, and arrangements are being made to revise the questions and the timing of the evaluations given the demands of the move. Changes to these will be communicated to you in due course.
Dr Kirti Menon
All support staff in the various divisions are accessible on email and / or telephonically and will be available as usual. Meetings may be held on Zoom, or in Microsoft Teams, or telephonically. PsyCaD remains operational for all students.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN WITH UNIVERSITY COMMITTEE MEETINGS DURING THIS PERIOD?
All committees, university processes and closing dates for various meetings remain in place and will take place through Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Large committees, such as Boards of Faculty, may opt for reduced representation if required. Although platforms like Blackboard Collaborate and Microsoft Teams can accommodate large groups (up to 250 persons), the emphasis must be on efficiency. It must be noted that all other meetings of the University like Senate, SENEX, SHDC, Teaching Promotions Assessment Committee to name a few, and other internal meetings of faculties/college will continue.
WHAT HAPPENS TO LEAVE DURING LOCKDOWN?
- Leave taken prior to the lockdown period and which overlaps with ‘Lock down’ days will be reversed on the system. Only those days applied for that fall within the lock down period will be credited back to the individuals who have applied for such leave. This will be done systematically, and employees are not required to access the leave system themselves.
- The lock down ‘gratuity leave’ that was so generously advanced by the UJ will be separately captured by HR as ‘Gratuity leave until further notice’.
- All sick leave encountered whilst on lock down must be retained and needs only to be captured by the individuals and approved upon return once the lock down period has officially expired.
- No leave must be captured during the lock down period. This also applies to employees who wish to apply for leave going forward. (i.e. in the next month etc.) Such applications need to be captured when the UJ re-opens after the lock down period.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I HAVE APPLIED FOR SABBATICAL LEAVE OR I AM ON SABBATICAL?
Sabbatical leave should be managed as follow:
- Sabbatical leave that commenced before lockdown period – Employees should continue as approved initially, and as per the operational arrangements that have been agreed to.
- Sabbatical leave commencing during lockdown period and later dates during the year – New applications that have been approved to start during the lockdown period and later this year, should be managed within the regulations and circumstances posed by the COVID-19 state of disaster and the operational arrangements of the faculty/college, and approved by relevant Executive Dean.
- No sabbatical leave will be extended or reversed as a result of the lockdown period.
AM I ABLE TO ACCESS CAMPUS DURING THIS PERIOD?
As non-essential ‘movement and transportation are prohibited, accessing campus during lockdown should be avoided as far as possible. It is recommended that you first consult with your HOD who in turn will liaise with either the Registrar or Chief Operating Officer offices to clarify and to determine the nature and reason for access. A permit is required to travel, and it must solely be for the purpose of essential services as per the published regulations. Thus, normal access and non-essential requests for access to the campuses is prohibited.
WHAT ABOUT GRADUATIONS AND HOW WILL GRADUATES GET THEIR CERTIFICATES?
All the graduations for the March/April and May/June sets of ceremonies have been postponed until later. Graduates have been informed of this and they have also been informed that their digital certificates are available on the UJ website https://www.uj.ac.za/studyatUJ/Pages/Graduation-Registration.aspx . The digital certificate can also be shared with possible employers or third parties for verification purposes, free of charge.
Important contacts during this period:
There is no question that this period is challenging both personally and professionally. The University will put as many support mechanisms in place as it is able to and relies on feedback to know where there may be gaps and lapses. Moving entire operations online in such a short period is unprecedented at UJ and will need us all to provide one another with support and assistance. To this end, the following contacts are useful:
- CAT: email@example.com or call (011) 559 3580
- ICS or HR: (011) 559 8888
- Careways (Employee Assistance Programme provider)