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Physically Distanced Learning

Physically Distanced Learning (PDL) combines online teaching and learning with selected forms of face-to-face teaching under physical distancing. PDL is driven by the health protocols imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic and will be adopted for semester 1 2021 at UCT.

How is PDL different from Emergency Remote Teaching?

Focus on design

Focus on design

More time for deliberate course design and developing learning activities, building on experiences from ERT.

More flexibility

More flexibility

Opportunity for both online and in-person teaching (formal and informal, synchronous and asynchronous).

Better connectivity

Better connectivity

Return to residence and provision of devices ensure connectivity and access for many students. Use of external (non-Vula) apps and platforms possible where necessary.

Limited access to campus

 Student workload & assessment

Access to essential teaching spaces for lectures, other learning activities and assessment possible.

Student workload & assessment

Student workload

45 hours per week course load. More options for assessment.


Guidance for PDL


Advice for resilient course design for first semester 2021


Online by default, in-person where feasible.

Content delivery

Pre-record lectures and avoid synchronous lectures where possible

Provide transcripts, notes, audio or other low-tech alternative formats

Tutorials, labs & studio work

Reserve in-person teaching for tutorials and small group interactions

In-person tutorials may need to take place on a rotational basis depending on venue availability

Laboratory and studio work arranged at set times to accommodate physical distancing requirements


Use continuous assessment methods where possible

All academic rules operating as per normal; results shown as grades and contribute to GPA.

Invigilated exams possible.

A framework for resilient course design Models for Physically-Distanced Courses



Risks and unknowns

View current risks and unknowns

There are various risks and unknowns which may affect physically distanced teaching and learning. The focus is on factors which could impact on teaching plans and what needs to be considered to create resilient courses.




CILT Services

handshakeCILT offers a range of practical support and learning design services. Our practical support services can help you implement and troubleshoot issues with specific Vula tools. Our learning design services help you think about the design of your course, talk through teaching challenges, and advise about the use of Vula for effective learning. There are a number of options depending on whether you prefer to consult relevant documentation, talk to a helpful colleague or join a group of colleagues grappling with similar issues.

Support and servicesWebinars Resources and guides


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