Getting started online

Key Issues: Getting started online

This section of the Key Issues contains answers for questions related to getting started with blended or online learning, such as outlining the various levels of permission and authorisation needed to take your course online and how to get a sense of your students' levels of digital literacy.

  1. What are some easy first steps to start incorporating technology in my teaching?
  2. Will taking my course online result in more or less work for me as a lecturer?
  3. What policies do I need to know about if I start teaching more online?
  4. How do I ensure that my blended or online teaching is of the same quality as my face-to-face instruction?
  5. Who needs to approve my choice to take certain aspects of my teaching online?

If you don't find the information you're looking for in these questions, please check the other sections of the Key Issues (Creating resources, Teaching online, Assessment) or email CILT at cilt@uct.ac.za and we'll do our best to add it to the guide.

 


1. What are some easy first steps to start incorporating technology in my teaching?

If you aren't already, you can start using Vula to share resources (key readings, lecture notes, relevant videos, etc.) rather than or in addition to printed notes. You could also try building your Vula site using the Lessons tool, incorporating short Polls or Quizzes to track students' understanding of a particular concept, or film yourself in the One-Button Studio answering common Q&A questions.  You could also start by asking your students how technology could help them learn better, and which technologies they find most useful.

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I think it would be useful for academics to just try something … a podcast or video recording of their content, because what we found most useful was this process of asking our colleagues to condense what they wanted to say into seven minutes. Apparently, screen concentration plummets after seven minutes … and some of them said no, this is a 45 minute lecture, you can’t expect me to do it in seven minutes, but we [insisted] … most of them managed to do that, scripted it, etc., and honed down exactly what they wanted to say, and that in itself was a really useful exercise. And now with the … One Button Studio, it’s not so frightening anymore.
- Professor Steve Reid, Primary Health Care Directorate

(Or listen to the audio below)

In the video below, Aditi Hunma discusses the ways in which she has used technology to enhance her teaching:

  • An easy first step to incorporating technology in your teaching is to make your key readings, course outline and/or assignments available through Vula. As you become more familiar with the platform, we advise you explore the use of the Lessons tool as a more advanced way of organising your course content.

  • Implementing change is usually a response to a problem or challenge that needs solving. Are you considering solutions or ways of enhancing learning which include technology? Start by spending time designing the whole learning experience, including digital materials or modes of delivery, but not beginning with the technology or tool.

    There is a lot of hype about technology, and while teachers have a responsibility to understand the opportunities provided for by technology - be cautious not to just ‘add-in’ some tech for the sake of it. Read more...

    • OER Africa has produced a useful guide on how to find open content.
    • CILT has produced a handy flowchart introducing some key concepts and tools to start taking aspects of your teaching online, reproduced below (PDF version):

 


2. Will taking my course online result in more or less work for me as a lecturer?

While there may some time-savings in the long run (for instance, no or fewer face-to-face lectures), online courses generally require more time in total, both to prepare (filming, developing your learning materials, building and updating the course) and to teach (engaging online, keeping in touch with your class, responding to student queries and giving feedback).

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I think if you do online right, it’s never less time. Even once you’ve set it up, because… you’ve got your readings, you’ve got your videos, but your videos need updating every couple of years, and you certainly are still doing… so to build relationships in the face-to-face classroom happens incidentally. With online spaces, you have to consciously give that stuff time, and effort and activity and attention. I think… the time burden of that never decreases. I think people think that will go away somehow. But if it does go away, you have potential for disaster.
- Shanali Govender, Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching

In the audio clip below, Stefan Britz from the Department of Statistical Sciences reflects on the amount of work required in taking one's course online:

 


3. What policies do I need to know about if I start teaching more online?

There are two core UCT policies informing blended and online learning at UCT, namely the UCT Online Education Policy and the UCT Intellectual Property policy. The former outlines UCT's overall approach and strategy to blended and online courses and cites the relevant national policies influencing online course provision. The latter grants permission for UCT academics to upload or publish their course materials to online platforms so long as UCT retains the right to re-use, copy and adapt those materials within UCT for the purposes of teaching and research.

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  • The key policies informing online education at UCT are the UCT Online Education policy and UCT Intellectual Property Policy.

    The Online Education policy recognises the general move towards more flexible, online and blended forms of learning, and that the use of online learning technologies and appropriate pedagogical strategies can improve both the student learning experience as well as the accessibility and quality of UCT’s higher education offerings. Specific provisions of note to online educators are:

    1. An undergraduate course may be offered fully online (4.1.e), but no undergraduate programme shall consist of more than 20% of total credits in online courses (4.1.c).
    2. Non-degree undergraduate programmes (NQF 7) and postgraduate programmes (NQF 8+) can be offered as fully online programmes.
    3. Anyone involved in core teaching, assessment and learning support roles that require subject knowledge must be employed directly by UCT to avoid outsourcing (6.a)

    Read more...

  • The following policy documents are core to understanding UCT's approach to online education:

    At the national level, the DHET policy on distance education and the Council on Higher Education (CHE) Good Practice Guide may be useful background reading.

 


4. How do I ensure that my blended or online teaching is of the same quality as my face-to-face instruction?

If you are considering creating a new postgraduate programme or changing the mode of a current programme, you will need to have the qualification approved by the Higher Education Quality Commission (HEQC) to be offered in an online format. The Institutional Planning Department (IPD) can assist you compile the necessary documentation for the HEQC. If your concern is about how to ensure the online student experience is high quality and appropriate, look at the further readings and resources provided.

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In the video below, Stefan Britz from the Department of Statistical Sciences reflects on the importance of thorough planning, adaptability, and the willingness to embrace new pedagogical methods when transitioning to a more blended or online mode of course provision.

 


5. Who needs to approve my choice to take certain aspects of my teaching online?

You do not need permission to adopt blended learning techniques, as long as you still provide face-to-face contact. Changing the mode of delivery of a single course, from face-to-face to largely online would need to be approved by the head of department and relevant faculty committee. Bear in mind that at the undergraduate level, no degree can have more than 20% of its required credits in online-only courses. Any new qualification, or qualification which changes its mode of delivery (e.g. from face-to-face into online) has to get multiple approvals - internally and externally. The Institutional Planning Department (IPD) can support academics and departments involved in this process.

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  • Incorporating technology to create a more blended learning experiences does not need to go for formal approval - this forms part of regular teaching. But consider whether you will need extra resources (for example, tutor assistance or Course Coaches).

    Changing the mode of instruction from face-to-face to mainly or fully online will need to approved, because UCT has guidelines about the proportion of online courses an undergraduate student may take within a programme. The Head of Department and Dean of the faculty (or relevant committee) will need to give approval for a course which is delivery fully or largely online. (see section 4.1 of the UCT Online Education Policy). Read more...

  • Documents and templates

 


 

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