Academic Monitoring Support Colloquium Explores Student Support and Online Learning
Reflections on Student Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic was the theme of the 8th Annual Academic Monitoring and Support Colloquium hosted by the College of Law and Management Studies (CLMS) Teaching and Learning Office in partnership with the UKZN Teaching and Learning Office.
The two-day colloquium featured 29 presentations and plenaries mainly focusing on academic and student support staff’s experiences of online learning during the pandemic and the impact of academic support interventions over the past decade. The paper streams were divided into language academic experiences, mental health, the impact of Academic Monitoring Support (AMS) interventions and student resilience.
In his welcome addresses, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Teaching and Learning Professor Sandile Songca highlighted that the issue of student learning is rigorously researched to find new ways to support student learning while closely monitoring it.
‘Over the years, the AMS Colloquium has been a unique and central feature of UKZN’s teaching and learning strategy,’ said Songca.
‘The Colloquium has endured over the years and is something we use to establish family and student-centredness and focus on our students’ learning capacity. As a university, we are committed to fully capacitating everyone for online learning, e-learning and blended learning. If we are not to leave any student behind in this digital transformation, we need to move all of them to environments where data connectivity is assured.’
Helping Students Thrive During COVID-19 Online Learning was the title of the paper by Professor Sid Nair, Executive Dean and the Dean of Learning, Teaching and Student Experience at the Victorian Institute of Technology, Australia and Dr Upasana Singh, academic leader and senior lecturer in UKZN’s Discipline of Information Systems and Technology. It focused on the importance of technological competencies when it comes to blended and e-learning, the stability of the internet connection, transitioning to online learning from face to face, IT and computer proficiency, after-class consultations with academics, support in learning and communication, and health and well-being.
The CLMS’ Student Support Services Department presented a workshop on stress management during the COVID-19 pandemic. The keynote panel discussion featured panellists and UKZN’s College Deans of Teaching and Learning Professors Msizi Mkhize, Naven Chetty, Ruth Hoskins, and Sinegugu Duma discussed the AMS Roadmap at UKZN while College case studies were presented by UKZN academics Drs Annah Bengesai, Boby Varghese, Saloschni Pillay and Sharmla Ramas.
Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the CLMS Professor Brian McArthur said the colloquium provided an important platform for engagement and sharing of research and experiences on blended and e-learning. McArthur echoed Songca’s sentiments and added that while UKZN already had experience with blended learning through the UKZN’s University Technology Enhanced Learning (UTEL), Moodle and other e-learning resources prior to the pandemic, the challenges of quality teaching and learning, student and staff mental health, sustainability and the effectiveness of different approaches remain relevant.
‘It is a truism that COVID-19 has impacted every facet of our lives and created a crisis of opportunity in Higher Education to ensure ongoing delivery of services to students. This has also transformed academic staff’s methods from the traditional teacher-centric to a more student-centric approach. As we reflect on the experience of the past year, it is crucial to consider successes and challenges, share best practices, and identify opportunities for further innovation and achievement.’
View the 8th Annual Academic Monitoring and Support Colloquium on UKZN’s YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/UKZNSouthAfrica/videos.
Words: Thandiwe Jumo