Laptops the key to online learning for university students, lecturers

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Online learning has been a process for students, parents and lecturers, with some having to deal with the issue of not owning a laptop.

UCT deputy vice-chancellor for teaching and learning, Associate Professor Lis Lange, said she had received many anxious emails from students who were worried they had not received their laptops yet.

Lange said students should not panic as laptops were still being distributed. “A total of 2327 students who completed the survey on access have been offered loan machines so far. Of these, 1483 students accepted the offer under UCT’s terms and conditions for the loan and provided updated delivery addresses.”

She said the terms included adding the cost of the laptop to the student’s fee account, which is reversed on return of the machine in good order.

“We are providing laptops on loan to eligible students on the basis of their responses to the student survey that was circulated at the beginning of April. 

“This process was necessary to ensure that as many students as possible would be able to participate in online learning when Term 2 began.”

Lange said it was partly funded by a R5 million donation from the Motsepe Foundation to the UCT Covid-19 emergency fund. “Delivery of the loan laptops began on April 22 and is expected to be completed by May 8 at the latest.”

Stellenbosch University rector and vice-chancellor Professor Wim de Villiers said that so far 728 laptops had been delivered to students who confirmed their participation in the laptop loan initiative.

UWC acting rector and vice-chancellor Professor Vivienne Lawack said the university was exploring more financially sustainable models and would share more information as it became available.

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