News & Media

Students urged to adapt to the online environment

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes to the teaching and learning environment, especially in higher education institutions (HEIs). Many other things such as communication and socialising have also changed as compared to the situation before the pandemic. “It is an advantage that Unisa as an open, distance and e-learning institution, is familiar with technology,” says Mashilo Modiba, lecturer in Unisa’s Department of Information Science.

Mashilo Modiba

Modiba states that the pandemic has increased the urgency of the South African plan to implement and utilise fully the Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies as encouraged by South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa. “It is important for Unisa students to familiarise themselves with information and communication technologies (ICTs) as the university has completely moved digital,” he says. “Failure to adapt could lead to poor academic performance.”

Emphasising the importance of possessing basic computer literacy skills, Modiba elaborates: “The online environment requires basic computer skills and students who do not possess these need to ensure that they seek assistance to acquire such skills in order to survive and progress academically.” He adds: “I also encourage students to practise time and again to improve these skills.”

He reiterates that HEIs need to introduce a compulsory computer literacy module for all first-year students to impart these skills at an early stage. “For Unisa, the module should include ‘how to use myUnisa’, which would assist our students to adjust quicker and understand the student online systems.”

Modiba grants that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme helps their beneficiaries to have access to ICT resources such as laptops and external hard drives. However, he urges HEIs not to rely only on the scheme, but to ensure the provision of ICT resources to all students, and Unisa is no exception. “Unisa needs to ensure that students receive their laptops early in the year to avoid delays in their academic activities,” he says.

Praising Unisa for partnering with network service providers such as Vodacom and MTN, Modiba says that he is delighted that Unisa students get 30 gigabytes of data (10 for daytime and 20 for night-time use) to help them access the internet. Nevertheless, he believes that more can be done to assist students in this regard. “Students must also ensure that the data is strictly used for academic purpose,” Modiba concludes. “I applaud Unisa for having such a great initiative.”

Unisa’s Directorate for Counselling and Career Development also offers career, academic and personal guidance and counselling to prospective and registered students. For more information on their programmes and services, students can visit

*By Simphiwe Mthimunye, Unisa Student

Publish date: 2021/02/18