above is largely within the ‘sphere of control’ for many students and PSET providers. While it is important to acknowledge that online education is not a direct ‘replica’ of classroom education, its pedagogical mode continues to develop. For this, further capacitating is necessary. The approach to assessment, virtualisation, and other aspects of academic delivery also requires addressing. This is, however, beyond the scope of this article.
‘Invite via link’, which can be used to invite up to 255 additional students and/or tutors. WhatsApp offers options to ‘secure’ the group and so on. This immediately establishes a mode for interactivity with students and staff. It can get hectic if many students chat simultaneously, but peer assistance will develop organically and a senior tutor (at times an alumnus may also volunteer time) can be incorporated to provide communication assistance. WhatsApp’s web interface http:// web.whatsapp.com could also assist the facilitator. One should keep to text-based content, which consumes less data, or to audio transmission/files (this, however, requires more data). Video content helps, but it is bandwidth intensive and lecturers would need to navigate the interaction together with prescribed course material or compressed files (which can also be done over WhatsApp). Localised websites: If one does not have an LMS, there are open- source options that can be set up locally. A number of education content websites, which are not heavy on data traffic, can be zero-rated by mobile providers. This may be a good way of going about it. Of course, some of these online techniques could also assist the basic education sector. The approach does require a combination with self-discipline and self-directed learning. The guidance of facilitators would be required to account for this stage
Long Walk to Freedom (1995):
“It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farmworkers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.” While there is overwhelming desire on the part of PSET providers and students to succeed, there must be recognition that a digital divide exists and there is, more than ever before, the need for an inclusive approach. Aside from the digital connectivity issue, the lockdown period is one of anxiety for many. Within these several scenarios of this contrast, some possible solutions and proposals are worth considering by everybody involved in the PSET education delivery chain. In times like these, I must hasten to say we should not look beyond Leonardo da Vinci’s view that, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Yes, I recognise that HEIs may have a more ‘sophisticated’ approach, but the focus of this article, is the PSET sector more broadly. Firstly, for the PSET provider Mailing lists: Mailing lists can be set up easily. For instance, there is no cost to set up a mailing list using Google Groups http:// groups.google.com. There are advantages and students who have slow internet access can download files overnight. Students are then guided through the course material by way of email (easily accessible to students and the facilitator). They could also have a ‘group’ conversation. This approach could be used, to some extent, to emulate the classroom approach. WhatsApp: Students and educators or facilitators are almost always on WhatsApp. Setting up a WhatsApp group is relatively easy, and students can opt to join. Once a group has been set up, the settings give the administrator an option:
Data access and cost: The list of essential services should include data access for those within the PSET sector. It requires government to negotiate with mobile data providers, at the highest level, and make a strategic commitment to zero-rated access to education. Zero-rating means certain websites are designated for the ‘public good’ and those accessing these do not pay. From this commitment, relevant technocrats will develop a meaningful delivery approach. Zero-rating can, however, be costly for the data provider and the PSET sector could initially be limited to text and audio. The costs may require subsidisation (this should, however, be seen as an investment) and/or a tax incentive. Devices: The ideal device for a student is a laptop. It is important, however, to recognise that smartphones, perhaps with a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse, can offer a creative alternative. For example, a Samsung “DeX”
of academic development. Secondly, for the student
Data saving: Data bundles can diminish quickly. To avoid this, use your mobile phone to restrict data access to apps that enable access to education. With higher usage of data, due to the COVID-19 lockdown, there is more competitive pricing, so explore the options and keep network coverage in mind: Rain, MTN, Cell C, Telkom SA, Vodacom and FNB Connect. Some institutions have zero-rating, and this may also affect your choice of mobile provider. The
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