UKZN Academic attends Webinars hosted by Cambridge University Press amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
Dr Andrisha Beharry-Ramraj of UKZN’s School of Management, Information Technology and Governance, attended a series of online workshops hosted by Cambridge University Press amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a time when the world came to a standstill, the academic world continued to slowly progress, tapping into somewhat unknown territory for most institutions as it became essential to adapt and adjust. Academics from every continent were selected from approximately 16 000 applications. Beharry-Ramraj said she felt privileged to be selected and to interact with some of the best-known academics in the world.
Beharry-Ramraj believes that academic passion comes to the fore in times of crises and turmoil. ‘COVID-19 has presented many challenges and raised much confusion worldwide. As academics we chose to soldier on despite all odds. Achieving the desired outcomes and being victorious calls for careful preparation,’ she said. Attending online workshops of this nature can add value to overall online teaching and learning at UKZN.
Adjusting to the current situation is not easy, and many are still transitioning into what seems to be the new norm for the near future. ‘Online learning is proving to be very effective and as academics at UKZN we must take on the challenge with pride thereby creating opportunities for our students as well as for ourselves.
‘Plato once said, never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow,’ she added. Beharry-Ramraj is of the view that teaching students how to learn is far more important than teaching them what to learn. Future learners need learning strategies. Lifelong learning is imperative and comes naturally in times where many students have to grapple with content themselves as they stay home.
COVID-19 has created opportunities for self-learning with students across the world relying on online material and short interactive Zoom lessons. In an informative webinar, Professor Simon Lind of Cambridge University Press noted that, while there is no one-size-fits-all approach to online teaching and learning, interaction and engagement are crucial to stimulate thought processes, transfer knowledge in an understandable manner, and nurture creative minds.
‘This means adapting and adjusting to student needs,’ said Beharry-Ramraj. ‘Stronger students are less demanding and self-able while weaker ones require more assistance and a lesser load.’ Formative assessment should be continuous during this time as it aids the learning process, and effective feedback and real time response must be guaranteed. ‘As academics, we must plan our lessons according to our students’ needs and continuously appreciate their efforts,’ she concluded.