INTRODUCTION TO UKZN ONLINE LEARNING

What is UKZN Online learning?

Considering the current situation in South Africa and many other countries around the world due to the spread of Covid-19, universities are compelled to move to alternative modes of teaching and learning. As an alternative to the traditional classroom learning where you attend classes in person on campus, UKZN has developed online learning strategy that will allow all your classroom activities to be conducted over the internet through the MOODLE Learning management system (LMS). MOODLE can be accessed at: https://moodle.ukzn.ac.za. You will log in using your LAN username and password. Ones logged in, you will automatically have access to the courses you are registered on the MOODLE dashboard. View the below introduction video for a brief demonstration on how to use MOODLE at UKZN.

What will be available on Learn2021? 

  • All course materials for your module in different forms: PDF, PowerPoint slides, video recording, Podcast etc. 
  • Discussion forums to engage asynchronously with your lecturer and peers.
  • Course assignments in different forms: short quizzes, time based quizzes, research paper etc. 
  • Course announcement which will serve as your notice board to view important notices. 

What is expected of you? 

  • Familiarise yourself with the tools you need to participate in your module online.
  • Read all course materials posted on Moodle.
  • Read all course instructions carefully and ask questions when not clear.
  • Participate in activities created on Moodle. 
  • Submit your assignment on MOODLE, unless otherwise instructed by your lecturer.
  • Check your course announcement from time to time. 
  • Should you need help with using the LMS, use the available help guide on the UKZN Moodle site. 


Four common online learning myths (adapted from California Community Colleges, 2020): 

Myth # 1: Online learning is easier: students don’t have to read all material or make notes because everything is provided. 

The facts: The workload for any course is actually very similar regardless of how it’s delivered (contact classes, online learning, and correspondence courses). In fact, there is more reading in online courses because you have to read your lecturer’s instructions instead of listening to them in class and also make notes (refer to Section 3 – Online Reading Strategies). Online learning therefore requires self-discipline and motivation and gives you the flexibility to learn at times that fit into your schedule. 

Myth # 2: Online learning is self-paced: students can race through course content and submit assignments whenever they feel like it 

The facts: Regardless of how quickly you work or what you think you may be able to accomplish at your own speed, most online courses are NOT self-paced. The most successful students will concentrate on their work at the pace that their lecturer sets, and will allow time to really focus and put their best effort into assignments. Cognitive psychologists have noted a ‘spacing effect’ that suggests it is better to absorb material at regular, separated intervals than all at once, which is why ‘cramming’ is so ineffective for many students (Searles, 2012). The good news is that completing online courses develops organisational skills that will benefit students in traditional courses they may take later on. 

Myth # 3: Online learning doesn’t require participation: students are anonymous and can ‘fly under the radar’.

The facts: Even though you and your lecturer cannot see each other, they can access reports on the quantity and quality of your course participation, which will be a key component of your online learning. In fact, sometimes lecturers know more about their online students than if they were teaching in a traditional classroom. The good news is that online learning can allow you to develop meaningful relationships with your lecturers and fellow students, everyone has a chance to provide input, and you can carefully consider your thoughts before you ‘speak’ (see Section 5 – Skills for Online Communication). 

Myth # 4: Online learning doesn’t require communication skills or good etiquette: students can email lecturers at any time of the day or night and expect an instant reply. 

The facts: Most lecturers provide a maximum turnaround time (e.g. 24-48 hours), so you need to plan ahead and be sure to have an alternative if you do not hear back from a lecturer before a task or assignment is due. Look for answers in Question or Discussion threads, or reach out to other members of the class. The good news is that building online relationships develops good communication skills (see Section 5) and assertiveness, and allows for cooperation and collaboration with fellow students. 

References

  • California Community Colleges Online Education Initiative (2020). Online student readiness tutorials. California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.
  • Searles, D.B. (2012). Ten Simple Rules for Online Learning. Computational Biology, 8(9): 1-4. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3441493/pdf/pcbi.1002631.pdf.
  • Stern, J. (2020). ‘Introduction to online teaching and learning’. Available at: http://www.wlac.edu/online/documents/otl.pdf.


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