The Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences announced its top online lecturers of 2020 during a virtual prize-giving function on Thursday, 5 November 2020.
The Emergency Remote Teaching: Top Online Lecturer Competition 2020 is a departure from the annual competition sponsored by Die Burger and presents the Faculty with an opportunity to recognize those lecturers who excelled in emergency remote teaching amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In her opening address, Prof Ronel du Preez, Vice-Dean (Learning and Teaching), thanked the Faculty's academic staff for keeping the 2020 academic year on track.
“We all embarked on a sense-making journey during COVID-19," she said. “It hasn't been an easy year. We grappled with things like assessments and curriculum redesign to bring our emergency remote teaching to a level where it could contribute to the success of our students. So this event tonight is to thank you and to celebrate the contribution you have made."
In an online poll from 20 to 28 October 2020, students voted for their best undergraduate or postgraduate lecturer from whom they received emergency remote teaching in the Faculty.
In total, five postgraduate lecturers and six undergraduate lecturers emerged as departmental winners after the vote count. The winners in the postgraduate category are:
- Prof Edwin Theron (Business Management)
- Mr Marius Meyer (Industrial Psychology)
- Mrs Gretha Steenkamp (School of Accountancy)
- Prof Babette Rabie (School of Public Leadership)
- Dr Lize Barclay (University of Stellenbosch Business School)
The winners in the undergraduate category are:
- Prof Pierre Erasmus (Business Management)
- Dr Debra Shepherd (Economics)
- Mrs Lisa Bailey (Industrial Psychology)
- Mr Heinri Freiboth (Logistics)
- Mrs Mareli Rossouw (School of Accountancy)
- Mr Stephen Burgess (Statistics and Actuarial Science)
A special prize was awarded to Ms Magda Barnard, the Faculty's Programme Renewal Coordinator, in acknowledgement of the huge contribution she made to the success of online teaching in the Faculty. “She was always willing to help and support lecturers. Many would not have been able to cope without her continued support," Prof Du Preez said.
During the live virtual broadcast all the winners - with the exception of Mr Heinri Freiboth who was unable to attend - took turns sharing their experiences and tips on how to become a top online teacher:
Prof Pierre Erasmus (Business Management): “The shock of moving from face-to-face to online teaching was quite severe. But this whole situation made me realise that we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for our students. Without their positive attitudes it would not have been possible for me to survive this semester."
Dr Debra Shepherd (Economics): At the time I didn't quite appreciated online learning for all the advantages it presented me with. I was too stressed out. But now that I look back I feel I can definitely move to hybrid teaching. My class attendance has never been better. But I definitely missed the contact I had with students before lockdown. There is something quite special about getting to know your students. I look forward to getting back to the classroom."
Mrs Lisa Bailey (Industrial Psychology): “It was a stressful few months, but I needed to remind myself that my students were just as stressed. What kept me going was to be more positive, and I thought if I showed that positivity and enthusiasm then my students would feel it too. A shout out to my colleagues for their amazing support – whenever I felt overwhelmed there was always something I could phone to have a laugh or chat with."
Mrs Mareli Rossouw (School of Accountancy): “This is a major team effort. I'm definitely not tech-savvy at all. The faculty gave us the guidelines in which to function, without the rules we don't have a say. Thank you also to my students for reading all my emails and my colleagues who helped me."
Mr Stephan Burgess (Statistics and Actuarial Science): “A shout out to Master's student Gerrit Dreyer who presented part of the course with me and made a number of suggestions. One of the things we tried to do was make things a bit more personal so that we could get to know our students. We also acknowledged the stress students were under and tried to assure them that they will get through it."
Prof Edwin Theron (Department of Business Management): “Like everyone else I was thrown into the deep end and I realised that I had to swim. In my case swimming meant pushing a few buttons and clicking on a few things. And I guess it worked! If you are passionate about what you are doing, it is going to reflect in your teaching, whether it is online or offline."
Mr Marius Meyer (Industrial Psychology): “I believe that while technology in the online learning environment is important, the human touch is more important. My online students did 4% better than the face-to-face students I had last year even though I made the assignments more difficult."
Mrs Gretha Steenkamp (School of Accountancy): “Many times students just want to be reassured that everything will be okay, they crave support and encouragement. There definitely have been things that I've learnt through online teaching that I want to change going forward and incorporate in a hybrid model."
Prof Babette Rabie (School of Public Leadership): “The most important online change I had to make was to restructure material so that students can follow it. I had to really think through it carefully – what information, what kind of questions will they have, how do you present it in a very simple manner. Redesigning all four modules paid off in the end."
Dr Lize Barclay (USB): “As a gamer I am so used to living in the digital realm so I make sure that our students have the same experience. We make sure that our remote learning classes become places where we can learn from each other and have fun, because that gives you the ability to handle difficult things."