College of Science, Engineering & Technology

They hold SWAY over the pandemic

The School of Computing (SoC) in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) at Unisa strives to make a continuous and positive contribution in the service of humanity. Its community engagement outreaches do Unisa proud, with projects not only at college level as flagships but also integrated in tuition coursework where students are equipped to contribute on a community level. This year, the university had to adapt the community engagement approach because of the pandemic and social distancing protocols.

One of the modules offered by SoC, namely, INF4831 - Information Security, faced a specific challenge as students annually engage in a project where they interact directly with the community to create awareness about cyber-safety and the protection of personal information. Each year, more than 1 000 community members across South Africa and internationally are reached through this project.

Due to Covid-19 in 2020, the project had to be adapted to a digital context only. Students were challenged to design a one-page poster that could be used as communication in communities, informing community members about the key requirements to protect their personal information. This project linked to the current regulatory developments in South Africa with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), which commenced on 1 July 2020. The posters had to be designed to inform communities of their privacy rights in line with POPIA and to create awareness in this context.

Impacting communities positively

Prof Adéle da Veiga, School of Computing, CSET, Unisa

Students participated voluntarily and produced striking posters with essential messages for communities. The posters were assembled in a Microsoft Office Sway presentation, which showcases the student contributions. This has been shared with various stakeholders and on social media platforms to disseminate the messages to communities, conveying the message of protecting their personal information and to raise awareness about POPIA.

This revised community engagement project illustrates that Unisa students are strong enough to adapt to changing circumstances, determined to grab opportunities to learn new skills and committed to help communities through their newly acquired knowledge. They produced work in a challenging time and showed that they persevered not only to complete assignments and exams, but also to go the extra mile to make a contribution to communities.

Expressing her sentiments about the project, Prof Adéle da Veiga from SoC says: "For me, as a lecturer, it was a gratifying experience to go through the work produced by the students. I could see the energy and hope that they have. While we as educators are challenged to adapt, we realise along the way that we cannot hold back but must embrace the change and convert it to a positive influence in education for students and communities. Furthermore. I thank the INF4831 students for participating and I invite everyone to browse through their Sway presentations… The fourth industrial revolution is upon us and we are now in the wake of embracing it," Da Veiga concluded.

You can access the posters in MS Sway below.

* Submitted by Thembeka Ntuli-Mpapama, Communication and Marketing Specialist, College of Science, Engineering and Technology

Publish date: 2020/12/01