Teaching Innovation Awards Winner
University of the Western Cape, South Africa
The University of Western Cape’s vision is to provide higher education access to talented young South Africans from the poorest communities, the vast majority of whom have limited access to technologies. Many students entering UWC have also neither been near a laboratory nor witnessed the demonstration of a science experiment in their school career.
COVID-19 restrictions, therefore, created considerable challenges for the Centre for Innovative Education and Communication Technologies (CIECT) team given the massive increase in access to their iKamva platform by staff and students. After iKamva accessibility to LearnSci LabSims was firmly established, the CIECT team implemented a teaching and learning methodology where academic 'LearnSci Champions', identified by the Faculty, were shown how to incorporate LabSims into the VLE/LMS. At the onset of the pandemic lockdown, when undergraduate laboratories were closed, CIECT were pivotal in assisting lecturers to integrate the LabSims into their discipline-specific teaching modules, enabling them to effectively align the resources to a specific topic, discussion forum and assessment. This was critical to keep students engaged remotely with practical lab techniques.
The success of CIECT’s approach to implementing LearnSci, both before and during the pandemic, and making the simulations accessible to all via iKamva, is reflected in the LearnSci record set by UWC - over 35000 activities undertaken in the first three months of implementation.