Change the world

04/09/2020

A team of three Nelson Mandela University staff members from different units have been in partnership since the beginning of the lockdown to contribute in up-skilling academics to transition from face-to-face to digital and remote learning and teaching.

The partnership is the brainchild of Eunice “Champ” Champion, an Academic Developer in the teaching development unit of the LT Collab (Learning and Teaching Collaboration). Champ brought together Andrew Thuo, a Learning Technologist and Moodle expert in the LT Collab and Jean-Pierre (JP) Basson, a senior lecturer in the Department of Architecture to team up with her in this initiative. 

During August (Women’s Month), the team broadened their reach and embarked on an initiative to assist high school women teachers to transform their chalkboard and chalk to an online whiteboard and webcam. The initiative is a token of appreciation for women teachers who are holding down  traditional family responsibilities in their homes, whilst working as mother-teachers to mould learners to be better citizens of our country.

The initiative started with a conversation between Champ and a former high school colleague about the challenges of working as a woman in the period of COVID 19. The conversation evolved into a significant discussion that led to the initiative to assist the women teachers. The teachers, who are from the Eastern Cape, received laptops pre-installed with Microsoft Teams from the Department of Basic Education, and their students received tablets with the same software to start the online learning process.

The teachers were not able to make full use of the learning platform without some much-needed training. The three Mandela University staff members assisted the teachers in the form of setting up their Teams platform before they embarked on the training. The team believed that the workshop allowed the teachers to engage on MS Teams knowing that they have assistance every step of the way as many felt unsure, uncertain or even scared to use the software.

The high school learners are our future students, and therefore the Mandela team also embraced the question: “What is online learning?” Academic insight, advice and suggestions were then given to the teachers on how to prepare their classes, what tools can be used within MS Teams to ensure a positive and confident experience, and promoting a well-balanced, well-constructed and quality education.

This initiative is currently in its infancy, but the team believes that they will reach more teachers to train in online and blended learning during and after the global pandemic period. After engaging with the teachers and seeing their appreciation, there is no doubt that the relationship between Nelson Mandela University and the high school teachers in the Eastern Cape has the potential to grow.

The team believe that the initiative will contribute to Mandela University’s determination in shrinking the gap between schools and university that has since been widened by the COVID 19 pandemic. 

Contact information
Mr Jean-Pierre Basson
Senior Lecturer
Tel: 0415042244
jpbasson@mandela.ac.za