Message from Dean: Remote teaching and other matters

8 Jun 2020 - 10:45
Associate Professor Shose Kessi, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities
Associate Professor Shose Kessi, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities

Dear students and colleagues,

I hope you are your families are keeping well and safe in the face of this pandemic. It has been a difficult time for everyone and it is particularly important to remain vigilant with social distancing and protective measures as the lockdown eases.

Return to campus

As of 1st June, we have moved into level 3 of the lockdown which marks the beginning of a phased return to campus. The university executive is working on a comprehensive plan for the phased return of students as you would have seen from the VC desk: https://www.news.uct.ac.za/article/-2020-05-29-developing-the-framework-for-returning-to-uct. Please note that the Faculty is not in a position to respond to any questions about the return to residences as these decisions are being made centrally via the Department of Student Affairs.

I am writing specifically to update you on developments in the Humanities Faculty on Emergency Remote Teaching and Emergency Distance Learning.

Emergency Remote Teaching

Emergency Remote Teaching for undergraduate students will continue until the end of the 2020 academic year. This decision was made to ensure more flexibility in the delivery of the academic programme with more flexible deadlines which will enable students to finish the year. It is unlikely that we will be able to return to large lecture formats given the national social distancing measures and we need to remain flexible to cater for the diversity of our humanities programmes. For example, students in the performing and creative arts disciplines will be following a dedicated schedule of contact teaching from the beginning of September or as soon as the university re-opens. Furthermore, ERT does not preclude the possibility of blended learning approaches with some face to face teaching for all students when campus reopens. We will explore how to put these plans in motion as soon as possible.

For the whole of the 2020 academic programme in Humanities:

  • There will be a PASS/FAIL marking system for all courses except for exit level courses (3rd and 4th year)
  • There will be no examinations and all courses will adopt continuous assessment
  • There will be no DP requirements
  • Major requirements will be revised for first year students from both to either 1000F or 1000S (with some exceptions). This does not change the total course requirement to complete the degree.

NB: These rules apply to undergraduate students only

Emergency Distance Learning

The faculty will be catering for certain students who are unable to access ERT through Emergency Distance Learning (EDL). This is the delivery of printed materials and/or electronic materials uploaded onto a USB. We have identified 177 undergraduate students and 14 postgraduate students through a care calls process who meet the criteria for EDL. If you fall into this category, you will be soon receiving your first delivery of materials to be collected at the closest delivery point. For undergraduate students, the first dispatch was sent on Friday 5th June and should be with you shortly. There will be two deliveries of these materials for Semester 1 and two collections for assignments. These dates are clearly communicated in your packages. Please note that given the delayed start of the EDL process, the faculty has made special provision for extended deadlines on your assignments. You will also be receiving support from a tutor who will contact you by phone. There have been misconceptions circulating on social media about EDL extending the length of your degree. This is incorrect. The whole point of EDL is to keep students who are unable to access ERT on track with your studies and increase your chances of completing the year.

Postgraduate students

ERT in Semester 2 (term 4) does not apply to postgraduate students. In some cases of large PG classes that do not meet the social distancing requirements, alternative measures will be taken and communicated in due course. EDL for PG students is following a different timetable and students should be in touch with their course convenors and/or supervisors. The university is also developing a plan for PG students who require access to laboratories and for students in clinical programmes who require access to hospitals, clinics, schools, and other public services.

I know that many of you are anxious about your academic studies this year. Please know that all our academic and administrative staff in the faculty are working hard to ensure that you receive the support that you need. The priority is that you remain healthy and safe. You are in our thoughts and we look forward to seeing back on campus as soon as it becomes possible.

Please remember that if you need academic advice, you can contact a curriculum advisor in the faculty. Student wellness and ICTS are also offering support remotely during this time. If you are in any doubt about who to contact, please email uctcares@uct.ac.za for a referral.

Best regards,

Assoc Prof Shose Kessi

Dean: Faculty of Humanities

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