Qhawekazi Memani and Thato Phalole
Students with their goody bags
The Vaal University of Technology (VUT) Centre for Academic Development (CAD) hosted a successful blended orientation programme (online and contact) from Tuesday, 23 to Saturday, 27 March 2021 at the VUT Vanderbijlpark campus, whilst strictly adhering to COVID-19 regulations.
First year students came in numbers. A lot of planning was put in place by CAD staff, Faculty representatives, mentors and peer educators. With the help from security officials, Centre for Health Education and Development (CHED), VUT Clinic, SHE department, and OHS department, temperature and sanitizing was done upon arrival and students proceeded to the registration stations to confirm attendance.
Students during Lab sessions
Thereafter, students were ushered to the computer labs for the video sessions per the order of the day, which enabled them to access VUTELA (blackboard) and watch videos containing messages from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC), Professor Maggie Linington: Teaching, Learning and Student Support Services; Dr Corneli van der Walt, Acting Executive Director: Centre for Academic Development (CAD); VUT Faculty Executive Deans, namely: Prof Raymond Mabuza, Executive Dean: Applied and Computer Sciences; Prof Riana van der Bank, Human Sciences; Prof Roy Dhurup, Management Sciences and Prof Peter Osifo Engineering and Technology (Acting), Student Governance Dr Sibusiso Mchunu and SRC member, Nomvula Mphuthi.
Students touring the campus
Subsequently, this led to the last item of the day which was the campus tour. Students were afforded the opportunity to familiarize themselves physically with the facilities and architecture of the university to give them a head start on what a university is. Students were also given goody bags and giveaways such as laptop bags from Vaal Triangle Computers (VTC). The laptop bags were awarded to all students who were able to answer one question related to their course/faculty.
First-year students found the orientation very intriguing: “I am really happy that I can see the University from a closer perspective and I‘ve learnt a lot about it, and how to navigate my way around campus,” said Pulane Mathe: First-year Internal Auditing Student.
“I am impressed with how the orientation was conducted, it was quite informative. I look forward to studying at VUT,” said Thokozani Ngwenya: First-year Engineering student.
Nhlakanipho Dube, a mentor for the Human Sciences Faculty had this to say about the orientation: “Ushering the students around made us reminisce about the good times that we had on campus. We didn’t realise that we missed it this much. We were so happy to feed off that vibe to the first-year students.”
Given that first-year students and peer mentors could voice their orientation 2021 experience through real-time interactions and a survey, the following will be looked at (but not limited to):
“We believe that providing a compelling orientation offering, and weaving it into a cohesive student journey, is the way to move this forward. Having developed and implemented the first blended orientation programme at VUT, assisted us to see how we need to approach the future,” said the CAD organising team.
As we move into a digital space, VUT is still determined to give the students the best of both worlds (contact and virtual).