COVID-19 has allowed the Faculty to rethink how we teach. It has given us a rare chance to pilot an innovative new educational model that we have wanted to implement for a long time, but been unable to due to timetable and venue restrictions.
Why we need face-to-face
Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT) in 2020 confirmed that some face-to-face engagement in the EBE degrees is needed. One of the weaknesses we identified in last year‘s online teaching, was the assessment of courses. Our Faculty offers professional degrees, and without proper assessment, our degrees will not be professionally accredited and will not be accepted in the workplace.
2020 also showed us how critical peer learning is to our students, particularly for students who come from outside of Cape Town and do not have a network of friends.
Our new model
Our new educational model uses blended learning and the “flipped classroom” concept: while one bubble is on campus, engaging in low density, active learning activities and feedback in the “EBE Home Rooms”, the other bubbles will be doing online learning through lectures and other online activities.
The flexibility of the “EBE Home Rooms” allows us to be creative about what we do and how we use the time. We will be using limited “talk and chalk” and “sage on the stage”. We will be implementing the latest educational research around how students learn, what is most effective, how to incorporate student input, how to develop students own learning styles and how to keep students interested and curious so that we can all learn and teach in the most effective way.
All “EBE Home Rooms” have been professionally assessed and have been confirmed to be COVID compliant. We will be implementing a “no mask, no entry policy” and ensure that physical distancing is practised. Our priority is to keep all our staff and students safe whilst still being able to build our campus community.
Opportunities for new teaching methods:
All lecture-based teaching to be done online.
Contact periods will be limited to those activities requiring facilitation, coaching and rapid feedback, activities that promote active learning.
An emphasis on project-based learning. We know that this is one of the best ways of developing essential professional competencies as well as engaging with the complexity of ‘real world’ or ‘authentic’ professional problems. This is best served by block learning, where students concentrate predominantly on a single project at a time.
An emphasis on building networks of peers. One of the biggest drawbacks of remote learning is the isolation and the lack of “the university experience”. We believe that one of the most important aspects of your EBE experience is meeting new people, building new connections, working together and grappling with the new experience in the company of new friends. “Peer learning” is absolutely vital to your success and a peer community is critical for our students. This is particularly true for students who come into the programme without friends and colleagues with whom they already have relationships from school. This model enhances opportunities for cohort building through a variety of activities.
Smaller class sizes. By reducing the occupancy of the venues and splitting the class into “bubbles”, the class sizes are smaller. This allows far more personal relationships to develop between lecturers and students. It also allows lecturers and tutors to identify different paces and styles of learning.
Flexibility. This model is far more flexible and less dependent on the timetable schedule.
Efficiency. Since students are only required to be on campus on the days that they have contact activities, this will reduce travelling time and allow the space to plan their own learning time, take more responsibility for their own learning, and be able to optimise their learning schedules to suit their individual needs and preferences. The previous timetable model allows almost no flexibility for students to manage their own time.
A unique opportunity for students and academics
Piloting this model in 2021 under the extreme conditions of low-density, physically-distanced learning as imposed by COVID, offers us a unique opportunity. EBE Students in 2021 have the chance to be part of an exciting and innovative way of teaching.
COVID forced us to make a radical shift from traditional means of education to a new and enhanced mode of teaching. When challenging conditions dictate that we can no longer do what we have done before, then we innovate – this is exactly the skill set that we see as our Faculty core.
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