Momentum is the ability to keep going, which is, in essence, what tertiary life should be. The ability to keep your momentum will be the difference between completing your qualification successfully or dropping out.
Higher Education is an investment that requires effort, passion, and time. It is one investment that no one can ever take away from you. You can use it to find a job, get a promotion or even start a business. As we approach the second semester, we have outlined a few hacks to help keep you going. It is crucial to keep moving to obtain your qualification in record time.
KEEP ATTENDING YOUR CLASSES
Now that it is Winter, it will become even harder to get out of bed in the mornings. It may seem easier to stay in bed rather than attend your classes, whether online or face-to-face. It is essential to remember that in tertiary, you are accountable for and to yourself. Class attendance is crucial to completing your qualification. The classes are designed to simplify the subject matters, empowering you to grasp concepts quickly, prepare for your exams, ace your assignments, and decrease your stress levels. Class attendance is also about collaboration and sharing ideas with peers.
COMPLETE ALL YOUR ASSIGNMENTS
Your final mark is a combination of assignments, assessments, and your exam. If you do well during the semester by completing all your assignments, Portfolios of Evidence (POEs), and assessments, you will have a better semester mark, decreasing the load when preparing for the exams. Pace yourself, keep a timetable and have a to-do list. Most institutions also offer support workshops or tutors to assist with plagiarism, time management and more – use the resources available to lighten your load.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
The internet is a tool every student should use to help them with their studies. Digital resources such as YouTube can present real-life applications of what you have covered in class and present different perspectives to broaden your view. The internet also offers a network of working individuals ready to assist with real-life experiences of the subject matter you are studying. Networking while you are still learning is an excellent way of preparing for the world of work.
Tertiary years are a great way to meet new people and build your network with peers, lecturers, and mentors. Engaging in campus life, whether online or face-to-face, is an excellent way of finding different perspectives and learning to work within a team. Collaboration is an essential skill for the world of work and life in general.
Small sacrifices are essential to reach one's goals. Start strong and finish strong; remember to engage, collaborate, and act.
One in eight young people between the ages of 5 and 19 are at risk of developing a mentaldisorder, of which Mood and Anxiety Disorders are the most prevalent. Emphasis on the mental health of young people recently increased as a result of the disruption caused by Covid -19 and lockdowns which exacerbated challenges that existed before the pandemic. It has therefore once again become important to not only start talking about the mental health of young people, but also to recognise symptoms and know where to look for help, an education and mental health expert says.
“The prevalence of mood difficulties among young people is increasingly becoming a concern internationally,” says Dr Jacques Mostert, Brand Academic Manager at ADvTECH, SA’s leading private education provider. Dr Mostert holds a PhD in Psychology of Education and is globally renowned in his field, having conducted experiential research in education in Denmark, the UK, South Africa and The Netherlands.
Dr Mostert notes that an estimated 24% of teens between the ages of 11 to 19 suffer from depression caused by the home environment, 25% are subject to cyber-bullying and loneliness, 92% of LGBT youth report depression during the ages of 11 to 19, and 80% of teens between the ages of 11 to 19 report a sense of isolation that causes them to feel depressed.
“It is very important to understand the signs of depression, so that action can be taken timeously should concerns about the mental wellbeing of a child arise,” says Dr Mostert.
“Teachers and parents can recognise the onset of depression when a sudden change in behaviour becomes apparent and continues for at least 3 weeks or longer. These include an atypical lack of energy, becoming increasingly irritable and agitated without a rational explanation, and a sense of being down in the dumps for no reason.”
Some adolescents may withdraw from friends and family over a sustained period of time, he notes, adding that this is especially concerning if this is atypical of the normal interactions of the teen.
“Another red flag is the inability to concentrate in class where ADHD or other non-neurotypical difficulties are not present, as well as regularly failing to complete classroom and homework assignments in time or often being late to class because of feeling overwhelmed.
“This, coupled with unusually defiant behaviour towards teachers and other school staff, especially if this is non-typical behaviour, may indicate that the teen is experiencing difficulties with mood and affect.”
In the same way as with anxiety difficulties and disorder, the student often asks to go to go home because of feeling ill with no discernable symptoms. The teen often has days off from class time due to doctor’s appointments, hospitalisation, or inability to attend classes.
Changes in sleep patterns, a significant weight loss or gain in a short period of time and disinterest in hobbies or areas where the teen previously showed interest also raise concerns about the mental wellbeing of the teenager.
Finally, a loss of future-mindedness, or talk about death or suicide, engaging in risky or self-destructive behaviour (drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or cutting, for example) are clear signs of the teen suffering from mood difficulties or a possible mood disorder.
“Not all of the above need to be present, but if there is a discernable and drastic change in a young person’s behaviour which continues for a period of several weeks or longer, intervention is necessary,” Dr Mostert says.
He says first steps teachers and parents can take to help their child deal with depression at home and in the classroom include:
• DEVELOPING COLLABORATIVE RELATIONSHIPS
Parents of teenagers should develop the habit of listening with empathy and not give in to the easier way out of lecturing. However, it must also be said that parents should be gentle yet persistent when it comes to holding realistic expectations of their child.
• AVOIDING NEGATIVE TECHNIQUE STRATEGIES
Punishment, sarcasm, disparagement, and passive-aggression is a way of affirming the depressed teenager’s belief of not being worthy or a valued member of the family or society. Parents must be willing to be vulnerable and acknowledge their own and their teenager’s feelings, especially at a time of disruption such as the Covid – 19 pandemic.
• NOT LOWERING EXPECTATIONS OR GIVING UNEARNED REWARDS
Realistic and earned rewards is one of the most important tools in a parent’s approach to supporting their depressed child. The sense of having earned a reward, and receiving acknowledgement for an aspect of their life they find significant affirms a sense of value. However, the opposite is also true. Unearned praise leaves the teenager with a feeling of inauthenticity and affirms their already negative self-perception.
• PLANNING FOR EARNED SUCCESS
Activities that are of interest often fall by the wayside when teenagers are depressed. Often parents try to arrange and engage in these activities as a panacea to their teenager’s depression. However, this may exacerbate the young person’s feeling of worthlessness. Parents should find novel and interesting activities that may lead to earned success. This may include DIY activities around the house or asking for help with a specific app or technology in which, when success is achieved, due praise is earned.
“Most importantly, parents should trust their gut,” Dr Mostert says.
“If your teenager insists that nothing is wrong, despite a prolonged period of depressed mood or being diagnosed with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, parents should trust their instincts and seek help.
“Should the above techniques not bring about an improvement in the mental wellbeing, parents should seek advice from their medical practitioner or a psychiatrist.”
The ADvTECH Group, a JSE-listed company, is Africa’s largest private education provider and a continental leader in quality education, training, skills development and placement services. The Group reports its performance in a segmental structure reflecting the Schools and Tertiary as two separate education divisions, and Resourcing as the third division. ADvTECH’s Schools division comprises 10 brands with more than 100 schools across South Africa, including Gaborone International School in Botswana and Crawford International in Nairobi, Kenya. It owns 9 tertiary brands, across 30 campuses across South Africa and the rest of Africa, and its higher education division, The Independent Institute of Education, is SA’s largest and most accredited private higher education provider. ADvTECH’s 9 resourcing brands places thousands of candidates annually, assisting graduates to make the transition from the world of study to the world of work.
ABOUT Dr Jacques Mostert
A renowned educational expert with more than two decades of experience locally and internationally, Dr Mostert holds a BEd Honours (Cum Laude) and MEd in Curriculum Design from University of Johannesburg. He completed a UK Qualified Teacher Accreditation from the University of East London in the UK as well as a Postgraduate Diploma in Social, Emotional and Behaviour Difficulties from Leicester University in the UK. He completed his PhD in Psychology of Education through the University of Johannesburg. Dr Mostert was awarded the Outstanding grade for Teaching and Learning by Her Majesty’s Office in Standard in Education (Oftsed).
Following his work in the UK, Dr Mostert was appointed Head of Department of Psychological Sciences at the American University of the Middle East in Kuwait. He managed qualitative and quantitative research projects, has published peer reviewed articles in international journals, presented and international education conferences, led and presented staff development seminars and is currently the Academic Manager of ADvTECH’s Niche School Brands in South Africa. Dr Mostert has conducted experiential research in education in Denmark, the UK, South Africaand The Netherlands.
THEY’RE BACK! HOW TO MAKE THE BEST OF (COVID
SAFE) OPEN DAYS
In coming weeks, several higher education
institutions will again start hosting on-site Open Days following the virtual
events held last year during the height of the Covid pandemic. But although
these events will once more be held in-person, prospective students are urged
to register as soon as possible, given that numbers will be limited due to
Covid safety regulations.
“Those who are serious about furthering their
studies next year, and are investigating all their options regarding what the
best qualification will be for them, and where they should study, will benefit
tremendously from being able to attend these Open Days,” says Peter Kriel,
General Manager at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest and
most accredited private higher education institution.
Kriel says it is more important than ever before to
carefully consider one’s options, given how the world of work has changed in
the past year, and also because Covid and lockdowns really highlighted which
institutions were able to continue delivering the highest quality academic
excellence without losing academic days. Prospective students attending Open
Days should specifically ask the question about how the learning experience was
maintained during the lockdowns, says Kriel, given that it is not out of the
question that there may be disruptions to in-person teaching again in future.
“The days are long gone where Matrics and those who
want to pursue a post-graduate qualification had to do little more than sign up
at any university for a popular or traditionally prestigious degree. Anyone who
wants to go study now, must ensure they are very clear about the connection
their chosen qualification will have to real-world opportunities in a few
years’ time, as well as the institution’s ability to continue in the face of
external challenges,” says Kriel.
He says the first step prospective students need to
take, is to find the websites of respected private or public universities and
higher education institutions, and then find details of upcoming Open Days.
Then they need to register to attend at a number of institutions, so that they
can compare their experiences of the campuses and their various offerings before
making a decision.
“The point of Open Days is to help prospective
students make informed choices. Furthering your education is a significant
investment of money and time, so the more you do your research before you
embark on your future path, the more likely you are to make a success of your
studies,” he says.
While much of the investigations into further
studies can be done online, attending Open Days give young people the
opportunity to speak to Student Advisors face-to-face, to view and experience
campus facilities, to get a taste of campus life, and to speak to current
Usually, Open Days include career and qualification
guidance, campus tours, overviews of sport and social activities, and residence
Kriel says those who are still uncertain about what
path they want to pursue, can gain some clarity by speaking to Student
“They will be able to help you match your passions
and strengths to those qualifications – some which you may not yet even have
heard of – that will put you on a path to a successful career in future.
“Very importantly, you also need to ask Student
Advisors about the role work-integrated learning plays in the institution’s
qualifications, because employers today need to see that a new appointment is
able to get the job done from day one, and won’t need months of training to align
their academic knowledge to the actual day-to-day demands of the job.”
Open Days also allow prospective students to get a
broad overview of careers and career opportunities, as well as the details of
the logistics that lie ahead should they decide to apply.
“Matrics should not leave the decision about what
to study and where until after their exams, or, even worse, until after they
receive their results next year,” says Kriel.
“Open Days provide a great, fun, and non-pressured
opportunity to explore your options, and clarify and commit to the road ahead.
Getting your plans for next year out of the way sooner rather than later will
go a long way toward relieving your anxiety about the future in coming months,
which will leave you with more of the mental and emotional energy you’ll need
to make a success of your exams.”
If you are a movie fan, you will know the heart-wrenching movie called 127 Hours. 127 Hours stars James Franco and is a 2010 biographical film directed by Danny Boyle. While the movie is a little over a decade old, the lesson remains the same – it is essential to let someone know where you are going.
Tertiary life can be exciting; however, it can also be daunting as you will be away from your family's protection. How safe you feel on campus can affect your academic success as well as your well-being. The safer you feel, the more engaged and the better your productivity will be. We have noted a few pointers below on some necessary safety measures you can implement.
GET TO KNOW THE SECURITY MEASURES ON CAMPUS
Ensure you know where to go when in need of assistance. Feeling safe is essential to ensure you enjoy your tertiary years and complete your qualification. Most campuses are access controlled to ensure all students can be accounted for in an emergency and ensure your safety while on campus. Know where the security office or emergency room is in case you need urgent help.
USE YOUR STUDENT CARD
Your student card is your gateway onto campus. Keep it with your phone, wallet, or keys to ensure you never forget it. These days technology has made life easier with digital student cards. The campus security needs to monitor all students coming in and out of the campus to ensure everyone's safety.
DON'T WALK ALONE
A buddy system is essential. Campus life may be so good that you may lose track of time and leave slightly late – in these times, ensure that you do not walk alone to ensure your safety.
Learn the transport routes and times to ensure you are never left without transport to get home safely. Ensure you leave on time for your bus or taxi or make the necessary arrangements if you know you will be going to campus late or attending an event. Having multiple transport options is very important.
SAVE IMPORTANT NUMBERS ON YOUR PHONE
Save numbers of the nearest hospital, police station and fire department so you can easily find them in the event of an emergency. Apps like Namola are free and very helpful in case of an emergency.
NEXT OF KIN
Ensure the institution and your friends have a family member's contact details should they need to contact them. In the era of social media, news travel faster than lighting. It is, therefore, essential for your loved ones to receive the correct information from a credible source.
KEEP YOUR VALUABLES CONCEALED
Do not walk around with your valuables in view. Make sure you conceal your devices and wallet while on campus or walking to and from campus. These days a phone is a mini-computer and has crucial information about your life, finances, and family. Minimise the chances of your phone getting lost or stolen by safely keeping it concealed when in public and having a password or complex pattern to unlock.
March 2021 marks exactly a year since South Africa’s
first Corona Virus case. This pandemic will go down in history as one of the
most challenging times in some people’s lifetimes. Starting your first year of tertiary
amid a pandemic is challenging as you are most likely to miss out on some of
the long-awaited tertiary events such as the freshers’ welcome party and more.
Everything we took for granted is now even more important such as, hugging your
new friends and chatting over a cup of coffee in the cafeteria with your peers.
We cannot change the current situation, but we can make it manageable with a
few hacks to help you get through the year with ease.
TALK TO SOMEONE
We at IIE Rosebank College have made it our duty to
support you academically and emotionally. Should you be struggling to cope with
the transition from high school to tertiary, we have our student wellness
managers who are always ready to listen and help you with a solution to lighten
the load. Registered students can book a session as and when ready, and the
best thing is, all sessions are free and confidential.
KNOW THE CAMPUS COMMUNICATION CHANNELS
The last thing you want as a new student is getting
frustrated with an inquiry and not knowing who to approach for assistance. Our
campuses have different support structures at your disposal, such as the
student portal, student hub, and most importantly, our staff are always ready
to assist – familiarise yourself with all the support structures in
STEP OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Coping is important, but living is essential.
Tertiary is, without a doubt, different and can be overwhelming. Take the
transition as the end of one era and the beginning of another. Be prepared to
invest your time and energy in the most important things and always remember
the end goal – you need to walk away from experience with a
PLAN YOUR STUDIES AND MAINTAIN A ROUTINE
The pandemic influenced a shift from traditional
methods to primarily connecting digitally. Whether connecting digitally or
face-to-face, it is essential to take time to reboot. Invest in a reliable
internet connection to keep connected and collaborating. Our campuses are also
Wi-Fi-enabled, should you need to connect when on campus.
Asking for help is an essential skill that will
benefit you during and after your tertiary life. Get to know your tutors,
lecturers, and classmates. Collaboration and teamwork are essential to get
through your tertiary years successfully. Take control of your studies and ask
for feedback from your lecturers and use the feedback as an opportunity to do
HAVE A FIRST YEAR BUCKET LIST
Life is more exciting when you have something to
look forward to. Student life is a once in a lifetime experience; find a new
way of connecting, collaborating, and sharing ideas with peers, tutors and
lecturers. Times have changed, and we must adjust and find new ways of enjoying
the things we used to take for granted. There are various student activities in
and around some of our campuses that you can still enjoy safely. The parks and
museums around some of our campuses are a start.
BE FINANCIALLY SAVVY
Times are tough, and the cost of living is high. You
need to make sure that you spend your money wisely and prioritise expenses
accordingly. Avoid spending more than your monthly allowance or what you earn.
Finding part-time work can be a good way of preparing for the world of work and
making money while studying. Having a savings account is a good way of planning
for your dream assets, like your first home.
We wish you all the best for the coming year and
beyond. Remember that the pandemic is not over yet. Stay safe – social
distance, mask up and sanitise.
High school is an exciting if sometimes scary and demanding stage of a young person's life, and it requires of them to balance a daily focus on learning and academic work while also continuously considering their future and where they are headed.
These competing considerations – the focus on now while also not losing sight of tomorrow – can cause uncertainty and anxiety, but using a framework on the way can have a significant impact on creating peace of mind and successful outcomes, says Dr Gillian Mooney, Dean: Academic Development and Support at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest and most accredited private higher education provider.
"By getting into the right frame of mind, and armed with a daily plan of action, you can incrementally build your way towards great results in Matric, and opportunities that align with your vision thereafter," she says.
"What Covid has made clear, is that we need to use every day to our advantage. Small wins compound, but if you procrastinate, you might just find yourself in an impossible position down the line."
Dr Mooney says junior high school students should strategise for the long game, and combine that with short-term action plans so that they are able to start senior high in as strong a position as possible, by doing the following:
KEEP ON TOP OF THINGS EVERY DAY
"Make sure that you master the work done in class every day. Do your homework to the best of your ability, and if there are concepts you don't understand, ask for help and assistance until you do. Don't push things to the side and think you are going to deal with them later, because later you may just have too many things to deal with and then you'll start feeling overwhelmed.
"By doing a little bit every day to cement new knowledge, you are building a strong foundation for the future, and your learning muscles and confidence are strengthened."
DON'T GO OFF THE RAILS – ASK FOR HELP
High school comes with a host of firsts – good ones and not so good ones, notes Dr Mooney.
"You'll be faced with exciting new opportunities but also temptations. Don't lose sight of what you are building towards, and always consider how your choices will impact on your future. Your freedom will be increasing, but so will your responsibilities. Make wise choices and enjoy your journey towards adulthood, while also being careful not to make choices that can turn into hurdles down the line. In particular, be extremely circumspect where social media is concerned as small missteps can have huge consequences.
"If you find yourself struggling – academically, mentally, emotionally, physically – know that there are many avenues you can turn to for help. There could be trusted adults in the community, teachers, organisations and even online resources to which you can turn. Don't despair if you are finding yourself in a difficult spot. There are support and resources available, so keep looking for help until you find it."
CONSTANTLY EVALUATE WHERE YOU ARE HEADED
You may have an idea of what you want to do when you Matriculate, or you may not. Whichever it is, junior high school provides the opportunity for you to consider your options while you still have plenty of time.
"Keep in mind that you will need to make subject choices in Grade Nine, which will impact greatly on your options after you finish school," says Dr Mooney.
So as you progress through the days, weeks and months of junior high, consider where your strengths lie, and how these might match up to a future career.
"This is why it is important to not leave your investigation of your future studies until Matric, because by then you may have dropped the subjects you would have needed to apply for your qualification of choice. If you think you are terrible at Maths and want to drop it as soon as you are able to, consider which careers you will be ruling out if you do so.
"If you don't know the answer to that, it is worth finding out by for instance doing online research, or speaking to student advisors at higher education institutions about fields that interest you, and what the entry requirements for those would be."
START TO BROADEN YOUR HORIZONS
The world is evolving rapidly and by the time junior high learners matriculate, it will look completely different from the way it looks today.
In junior high, young people should start developing themselves holistically, and start learning about things outside of their current field of experience and frame of reference. For instance, they can start keeping up with the daily news so that they know what's going on in the country and the rest of the world. They could also start cultivating a hobby to develop their creative side and ensure they get regular exercise through group or individual sport.
"You are now at the stage of your life where you are starting to develop into the adult you will become. As the saying goes - with some creative licence taken here - there are things we know, things we don't know, and then things we don't know we don't know. Your school will be teaching you about the things you don't know, but it is your responsibility to be curious about the world and start finding out about the things you didn't even know you didn't know.
"You may find that there is a whole world of opportunities that get you excited in terms of your future, that you were never exposed to before. So every day, do your best to ensure you continue to grow academically, while also firmly considering where you are headed by researching where the world is moving and where your future opportunity might lie."
We live online, or do we? We at IIE Rosebank College believe that we live in a blended state, encompassing both offline and online activities – between that is finding time to live. Time to rest and enjoy all the things one loves doing is still valuable, more so than ever. Family and "me-time" are needed; the trick is finding balance.
An option for studying, gigging and living, is online learning. With the improvement in infrastructure in South Africa and data costs becoming affordable, why not study online? We expect the demand for online studies to grow in 2021. To this end, we have increased the number of IIE Online qualifications to give prospective students a choice of several IIE degrees, higher certificates, and a diploma.
A formal qualification is still advisable whether one wants to be an entrepreneur or work for someone else. In the current era of the gig economy, "gigs" are becoming more and more prevalent. Doing a combination of both seems to be the favoured option for having it all.
If you pace yourself, you can fit studying into your lifestyle efficiently with IIE Online learning. IIE Online learning is modular and affordable, enabling students to start with a minimum of two modules per semester. Students are empowered to complete their qualification in line with their schedule and budget. We also understand that it is not just tuition fees that one needs to budget for; we have included ebooks (textbooks) in the tuition fee.
Studying online can feel quite distant. Choose an accredited and registered online provider with support structures in place to increase your chances of securing a qualification successfully and guide you along your journey. 2021 Registrations still open at IIE Rosebank College.
Online learning has fantastic benefits for learners and educators. On the 5th of October each year, we celebrate World Teachers Day. Being an education provider ourselves, we witness the sweat and tears that teaching staff invest in their students daily. The passion for empowering and the vision to see students succeed beyond the classroom is what our educators strive for.
Mfundo Radebe is a seasoned and passionate educator at IIE Rosebank College. He is a dedicated and bubbly individual who believes in using traditional and new age teaching methods to get through the curriculum. His love for life influences how he prepares his students for the world of work. Mfundo outlines his journey below.
How have you adapted to online lecturing?
I am a young lecturer who has been using Blackboard as a teaching and learning resource over the years. I use RC Learn to upload PowerPoint slides, videos, and to attend to student queries. IIE Rosebank College uses RC Learn, a Blackboard based Learning Management System, to teach, engage and collaborate with students.
How do you keep students engaged?
It is essential to keep classes short; fifty minutes is enough time to engage with students online. To keep students engaged, I use a combination of PowerPoint slides, case studies and videos.
I believe in young minds taking control and ownership of their studies. I allow students to make their voice heard by asking for their feedback on the learning experience and content. Feedback is excellent to enhance teaching and to find the most relevant resources for students.
What has been the biggest challenge with online lecturing?
Class attendance can be a challenge due to limited infrastructure in some areas and the cost of data. Students may not have smartphones, computers, or laptops, making it challenging to complete assessments on time or attend classes online. These resources are available on all campuses under normal circumstances. Reach becomes an issue; when you have an anomaly such as the COVID-19 pandemic, where all teaching and learning is online. To overcome this, RC Learn has an option for students to download the content while online and use while offline.
What opportunities does online learning provide students?
Online learning is preparing our students for the new world of work or entrepreneurship. If you look at the communications and marketing industry, particularly public relations, journalism and advertising, digital resources are the norm when executing briefs for clients. We believe that Online learning and some traditional methods are a recipe for success.
HIGHER EDUCATION COVID RESPONSE: CONNECTION KEY TO POSITIVE OUTCOMES - SURVEY
Lack of peer contact and motivation have emerged as two of the key challenges that faced higher education students last year after institutions took teaching online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, a survey has shown.
The in-depth survey, conducted by The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE) provides a quantitative and qualitive look at how public universities and privates responded to last year’s challenges, as well as the impact of various strategies and approaches on students.
“As we prepare to launch into a new academic year this March, lessons learned from last year will provide a valuable roadmap for the future, given that we will continue for the foreseeable future to face many of the same challenges we encountered last year,” says Dr Felicity Coughlan, Director at The IIE, SA’s largest and most accredited private higher education provider.
She says one of the surprising findings of the survey was that students did not cite access to data or hardware as their primary struggles.
“The number one issue, cited by more than 40% of respondents, was that students missed their peers and found it hard to adjust to online learning, ultimately leading to a loss of motivation on the part of many,” she says. By comparison, less than 24% of university students in the study cited fees as a barrier experienced under lockdown, and 29% mentioned data struggles.
The survey tested the sentiment of a demographically representative sample of students from 22 institutions – 8 privates and 14 public universities across South Africa – about their lockdown learning experience.
The survey looked at student perceptions of the responsiveness of institutions to the COVID-19 crisis and the extent to which they felt they were being prepared for the working world.
Although the study was limited, it was clear that there was a considerable difference in the quality of responses across the board. Nonetheless, although many respondents rated the standard of online teaching and engagement as “Good” or Excellent”, more than 27% of students from Universities cited lack of support as an issue, under lockdown. Even within faculties within the same institution, inconsistency was experienced as contained in student comments. “Some were good and some were bad,” said one Engineering student. “I don’t like how things are being done now,” said another, “I feel a lack of enthusiasm coming from everyone.”
“The focus for Higher Education Institutions this year must be on two fronts,” says Dr Coughlan. “Ensuring consistency and effectiveness of teaching and learning, as well as providing the crucial support students need. Students expressed a need for safety, consistency, security and predictability, and as we head into another uncertain academic year, effort must be made to address these concerns.
“Additionally, while students want the transmission of knowledge by for instance coming to class and writing down what the lecturer says, they also need active learning where they are involved and engaged with learning materials. So online platforms where lecturers try to mirror what is happening in class without active engagement will be less effective, because students are inclined to disengage more readily when they are not visible to the lecturer, who then is not in a position to respond to the disengagement.”
Dr Coughlan says any teaching and learning in higher education must be theoretically sound in the sense that you need to have a theoretical model that accommodates many teaching and learning situations.
“When teaching face-to-face, there will usually be a measure of consistency of deliveryacross modules. However in the online space, there may be a huge variation in terms of how lecturers manage the development of knowledge and skills. It is this varied nature that may have made students hold less positive perceptions, because of the aforementioned lack of predictability and consistency.”
She says going forward and while the current COVID-crisis endures, higher education institutions must make an extra effort to introduce measures that will support students and assist with maintaining their emotional wellbeing.
Another interesting facet of the survey, further highlighting the differences in the experiences and expectations of students, was that only 65% of public university students felt that their online learning experience was preparing them to be successful in the future workplace.Although many respondents believe that studying from home prepares students for a new age of working from home, others were despondent.
“Online does not equal better,” said one respondent, with another adding: “I am just worried about how this mess will translate by the time we start working”. “It’s making me too anxious to even think about my future workplace,” said a commerce student.
“We take important insights from 2020 with us into 2021,” says Dr Coughlan, “and as private higher education institutions and public universities we need to ensure that we not only respond to our ongoing crisis as effectively and resiliently as possible on an academic front, but also that we provide the necessary support for students to prepare them to enter the workplace with confidence, and equip them with the important non-academic skills they will need to thrive in a changing world.”
Online learning is the new norm. We at IIE Rosebank College have long embraced online and blended learning, launching our first blended learning campus in Polokwane in 2015. We now have four blended learning campuses in Bloemfontein, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth, and Pietermaritzburg. We have recently increased the IIE Online Learning offering to give students a choice of eight IIE qualifications. Students can now choose to study an accredited IIE degree, diploma, or higher certificate online.
For some, online learning can be a daunting thought; for others, it is readily embraced. As with most things, it seems hard until one starts. We spoke to a believer in lifelong learning, an individual with a postgraduate qualification, to get some tips on acing studies from a distance.
Firstly, we wanted to know why he opted to study online. For him, the choice was natural as it was affordable. In most cases, more so than for full-time studies. With online learning, one can save on transport and accommodation costs. Some institutions even include books as part of the offering.
Choose an accredited education provider
Before choosing an online provider, it is essential to do your homework, to ensure your money will be well spent. Online reviews are a good starting point to see what others are saying about the institution you are considering.
Studying from home requires specific tools which would give you the best chance of completing your studies. Some recommended tools include:
• A laptop for research and submitting your assignments
• An internet connection with enough data for voice, video, and research
• Stationery is also important
Have a vision board of what you would like to achieve once you attain your qualification. This will be a constant motivation for what you are aiming for.
Use provided support structures
Most online providers have programme support tutors to offer student support. Use them if you get stuck. Student support should be an essential consideration when selecting your online provider.