The Covid-19 pandemic continues to dictate the way we work and our lifestyle. Tertiary students likewise have been affected. Professor Heather Nel, Senior Director of Institutional Strategy at Nelson Mandela University offers the following advice for tertiary students.
1. The importance of being digitally ready
Students must ready themselves for a combination of mask-to-mask and online learning. Being ‘digitally fluent’ can ensure that students are prepared and that they embrace the digital tools and online learning platforms to successfully navigate the flexible learning environment.
Not all students, however, are expected to enter their first year of study being equally digitally prepared. Students embarking on their university journey may feel isolated or overwhelmed. Therefore, it is vital for students to tap into the student support services offered by universities.
2. Preparing for on-campus and remote learning
It is extremely difficult to predict what the 2022 academic year will look like due to the pandemic. Most university programmes are expected to take a hybrid approach, comprising both online content and mask-to-mask learning.
Mask-to-mask learning that takes place on campus is the first prize, but higher education institutions will only be able to ramp up such sessions on campuses if population immunity amongst students and staff is attained.
3. Understanding e-assessments
The way that students are assessed has also changed. Pre-Covid, most courses would have had some form of formative assessment – for instance, assignments, tests and practicals – occurring during the term and then a formal exam at the end of the term. Universities have had to shift to continuous and e-assessment methods, because this is a much better indicator of progress in an online environment.
All assessments are conducted in a way that is fair to students, but also ensures academic quality and integrity. In this way, the final marks obtained are a true reflection of the student’s knowledge, understanding and ability to apply the content
4. Student wellbeing
It is easy for a student to feel overwhelmed when transitioning to higher education. Given the added pressure of Covid-19 restrictions and the responsibilities that come with flexible learning, students may need support to ensure that they are able to cope effectively.
5. Embracing beyond-the-classroom activities
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of living a balanced life. Sitting at a desk and being fully immersed in coursework for the majority of the day, can have a negative impact on one’s wellbeing in the long-term.
Being a successful student is more than just preparing oneself academically. Student success is also about cultivating the kinds of qualities, attributes, values, and skills in addition to the disciplinary knowledge gained at university to add value to society.
Students are encouraged to adopt this thinking from the start of their university journey, otherwise they get locked into their studies and this becomes the sum total of their university experience.