As with the rest of South Africa, the staff and students at Stellenbosch University have been following the social-distancing protocols set out for us. This means that we have not been allowed on campus and that most of our activities have been forced into the online space. This means no physical contact time between staff and students, limited tangible data generation for research, and no national or international conferencing.
With some weeks of online teaching the ESDepartment took initiative to gauge our students' perceptions of the online teaching and learning offerings that were implemented at short notice and in order to successfully complete the first semester which is jointly taught by Earth Sciences and Geography. Overall, our students have been impressed by the efforts that the lecturers have put into ensuring that their learning can continue under the difficult global and national circumstances. These are highlighted in some of the survey feedback responses related to our online teaching and learning offerings:
“Overall, it feels like the department is well prepared and very competent at online lecturing." – Student A
“I feel that more departments should adopt the way the Earth Science department has been handling the online curriculum." – Student B
“Personally feel like I am learning and gaining knowledge every day, regardless of being at the university itself." – Student C.
Dr Martin Klausen teaching from his home office (credit Dr Klausen)
Importantly, this has been a period of learning and adaptation for all of us. Words like Zoom and MS Teams have become part of our daily lives, and even the more senior professors in the department have had to find creative ways to replace their trusted overhead-projector transparencies (I joke of course).
Impressively creative ways have been found to transform the home office into a lively teaching space.
Dr Matthew Mayne brings enthusiastically metamorphic rocks into the online world for his students. (credit Dr Mayne)
Prof Roychoudhury during online teaching test (credit Prof Roychoudhury)
Prof Miller juggling home schooling in the morning and work after that and before and... (credit Prof Miller)