The UCT Formal Online Education Project Call for Expressions of Interest: FAQs
My idea falls outside the scope - it’s not an undergraduate course (part of an on-campus degree) and it is not a full postgraduate programme. Can I still submit an EoI?
If it does not relate to UCT’s formal credit-bearing offerings then it can’t be considered for this funding - this call will not support funding for MOOCs or short non-credit bearing courses. There may be other opportunities for getting support for innovative online education initiatives - watch the CILT website for announcements. If you are not sure please contact Sukaina.Walji (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I want to do an online postgraduate course which might become part of a future programme? Can I submit an EoI?
Please contact Sukaina Walji (email@example.com) to discuss your idea - although the call specified full postgraduate degrees, it may be possible to start developing postgraduate courses if there is a longer term intention to create an online programme.
Can I get teaching support/buyout?
Yes, it is possible to include teaching support/buyout as part of your Expression of Interest - if the Head of Department puts their support behind this idea.
How much money can I apply for?
There is no set amount. At this stage, you are being asked to submit an expression of interest in developing online courses (undergraduate) or degrees (postgraduate). If the Expression of Interest is selected, you will be asked to develop a full proposal including a budget. There will be guidelines provided for budget development..
Assessment in online degrees
How can we deal with research and dissertations with online Masters? How will we do the 60 credits dissertation online?
There are international models for successfully managing supervision of dissertations online. If you are particularly looking at creating an online degree by dissertation, the proposal would have to consider both the educational principles of effective supervision as well as the financial feasibility of such a degree.
Can we do a full coursework/professional Masters?
A coursework or professional masters online is possible - provided the programme can be accredited through the institutional processes, and there is a feasible business plan.
How are we going to do assessment online?
This will be one of the key issues to be resolved when planning any new online qualification. The Commerce Faculty already has some experience which we can build on, and we will have to develop options and methods that meet the quality assurance standards of the university.
How can we do exams online? Do we need to use exam centres?
There have been some successful online exams run in the past three years although these are not without problems. Exam centres have also been used. General guidelines about online assessment are being looked at by the Exams and Assessment Committee; and in each case, the suitability of the material and student circumstances will have to be taken into account when planning the assessment methods.
Establishing the market
Do you expect academics to do market research?
Yes academics will be required to take responsibility for market research of any new offerings, with assistance. Part of the funding provided will go towards market research. The academic conveners will be in a particularly good position to contribute to the investigation of the market potential of any offerings. Professional assistance will be provided to assist the university make appropriate decisions.
Is it too late to get into online learning and is the market being saturated?
Online education is part of the future of higher education provision and it is still in the early phase of development - particularly in South Africa. But it is true, there is already some competition in South Africa and globally (like there is in all forms of educational provision), and it means that UCT should carefully consider its choice of programmes.
Are we supposed to support new students or move existing students to online?
For the undergraduate course offerings - we are exploring where online learning can provide enhancements or improvements to our existing students’ teaching and learning experiences.
For postgraduate programme - we contend that online postgraduate programmes offer UCT an opportunity to appeal to a different group of students - often people who are not willing or able to study through traditional face-to-face forms of learning. These programmes should aim to enrol new students.
Student access and technology
How are we going to deal with student access and technology issues for online learning?
Technology access is improving rapidly, but it is also true that there are still many people with poor access (especially in relation to bandwidth and costs of data). An effective online programme will need to start by establishing the particular constraints of their constituency; and place emphasis on student support. The design of the programme will need to take into account differential access so as not to disadvantage any particular student group. There are well established methods of providing support to online students - which include alternative methods of accessing and submitting key material; multiple modes of supplying learning material (for example, video or audio or compressing file sizes); advanced notice of key deadlines so students can plan around access problems. Having said that for fully online postgraduate programmes in particular, a basic level of internet access and a device will be a prerequisite for enrolling.
For online undergraduate courses for currently enrolled on-campus students we will need to monitor what support is needed for each cohort of students. Our current initiatives of providing wifi, continuing negotiation with cellphone providers for zero-rating on university content and procuring devices for particular groups of students should go someway in in ensuring adequate levels of access.
International students and markets
Are we going to charge international students the same fees as South African students? Will international students still have to pay a levy?
The decision about fees and the regulations about international students will need to be decided by the university bodies who are responsible for these decisions. The Online Education SubCommittee will ensure these matters receive attention.
Online courses on-campus programmes
What if I have already have an online PG Diploma offered in a block release format? Can I make this into an online programme? Can I put some of the courses into an online format?
If you intend the PG Diploma to be offered in a fully online mode eventually, you could submit an expression of interest - which might propose that you begin developing some of the courses in an online mode as part of the pilot phase.
Will support for undergraduate courses cover blended courses and how?Yes, the support for undergraduate courses can include blended courses if you can make the case regarding how introducing the blended elements will impact positively on students learning experiences and academic success.
What if my undergraduate degree already has a number of full online courses? Can you clarify what the rules are?
The UCT Online Education Policy document states that at an undergraduate level UCT is a contact institution but that students may be required to engage with online learning through blended course formats and a limited number of fully online courses. Currently Senate permits that a maximum of 20% of all programme credits may be offered as fully online accredited courses. Any exceptions to this would need to be approved by Senate.
4.1c: Without the permission of Senate, no undergraduate programme shall consist of more than 20% of the total credits in fully online mode. However, a student could take additional optional online courses.
Platforms and infrastructure
What LMS/platforms will be available/used?
There will be a platform solution in time for the first online degree. There is currently a formal platform testing project underway to establish which of the available solutions would suit our context best. A platform suitable for hosting fully online degrees will be available by 2019.
Why have you issued a call before the new platform is available?
This will be a long process and it includes two distinct parts - developing the institutional infrastructure (such as the platform) as well as identifying and preparing the educational material. Given how long it takes to get approval for new qualifications, it was agreed to start the process simultaneously with the building of the institutional capacity.
Can we co-create a degree with industry partners?
There are particular rules about co-creating and co-branding which apply to any degrees at UCT. In many instances, industry collaboration is highly desirable in establishing market need and helping to shape the curriculum.
Can we co-create a degree with industry partners?
UCT welcomes collaborative arrangements with other universities. If there is interest in a formal collaboration in terms of joint teaching, co-badging or student sharing, there would have to be the usual process of discussion with the registrar’s office about procedures for formalising partnerships - including how to deal with fees and subsidies.