When We Put Our Minds Together, We Achieve More

Interview with the University of Venda
07/02/2020 15:02

ICSSPE met with Khuliso Matshovana from the University of Venda in South Africa to discover how ICSSPE members in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, where the university is located, have been dealing with the Pandemic. Khuliso works for the department for Biokinetics, Recreation & Sport Science, she is a junior lecturer and teaches recreation leisure studies.


Many of the studies involve practical work requirements, which is a challenge when it comes to online teaching. Khuliso shared with ICSSPE how the pandemic has affected her department and what measures they are taking to tackle it.



ICSSPE: Did this pandemic affect your university?


Khuliso: It affected us a lot. Very badly, especially with us in the department for Biokinetics, Recreation & Sport Science. We have to go out to take our students to practicals in sports academies, in all teams and sports organizations. Now, we cannot take them as everything is closed. It has really hit us badly. Our students cannot continue with their practical studies; they cannot continue as normal.


I am part of the Covid response team, so I had to be in the University during this time to support the development of our guideline as to how we will accommodate our students when we come back. We developed a guideline that guides all the activities of the university. We also conduct the screening of everyone entering campus and see to it that people are complying to the Covid rules and regulations.



ICSSPE: So how do you evaluate the students on the practical elements of the course?


Khuliso: Well, now with our year one students, we have about 100 of them in year one, they are supposed to learn the practical skills from about eight activities. It is all totally practical, they have to be in contact with each other. However, now we cannot see them, they cannot for example come and play basketball or football. It is just not possible at this stage. So what we are doing to tackle this? We are giving them some videos to look at the skills and we provide them with an online module describing their activities and explaining it for them. We send videos, YouTube videos for them to look at the activities so they can continue to acquire the knowledge related to the practical skills. We give them the videos to study and we design quizzes for them just to see if they have picked up the knowledge from the videos shared. For now, we cannot assess them since it would be based on practical activities, we only assess the theory of the skill.


Because of this the graduation dates will probably be going to be pushed back to the beginning of 2021. Some of the activities will be completed by then. That's if everything goes back to normal. We are just hoping that everything goes to normal and then we can finish off our programmes. But for now, we think we are just trying our very best to do as much as we can online.



ICSSPE: Are students learning online or are they allowed back on campus?


Khuliso: We are gradually phasing students back onto campus, for example, we started back with students, who are on their final year . They have already gone back to campus so that they can continue with their clinical training. We are easily easing down the lockdown. Responsibles have divided the lockdown into phases. Right now we are on level three of the Lockdown, which means some of the activities have been going back to normal. So with us, we have gradually started phasing our students back onto campus.



ICSSPE: What were the different levels? You said you on level three, what other levels are there?


Khuliso: There are five different levels. Level five was the total shutdown of everything. So all movements were restricted. level four, we started some activities started going back to normal and some people went back to work. Only few essential services were in operation. Now we are at level three where even more people are going back to do their jobs. Schools have opened, both high schools and primary schools from grade 12 down. At level three the activities are still restricted except for non-contact sports, for example, golf and tennis.



ICSSPE: How has it affected the university financially?


Khuliso: When we are doing online learning, of course, we need data for both staff and students. About 14000 students must be provided with data. So issues like those have financial implications because some of them didn't have gadgets which are compatible for online learning. The university had to purchase them for the students. So, yes, it did impact us financially.



ICSSPE: Will you be keeping any of the changes that have been implemented over this period for the next year?


Khuliso: Oh, yes. Everything is probably going to change. Even if things go back to normal, it won't be like it used to be. For example, teaching and learning will have to continue with blended learning. The positive thing that Corona has brought about is that it forced us to shift into online learning. Before that we were used to the traditional way of learning. Now it's a must that people shift to online learning.



ICSSPE: What is your opinion of blended learning within physical education?


Khuliso: It is quite difficult. Most of what our department conducts, is practical work. It's quite difficult to stick to online learning without experiencing the practical elements of the studies.

It is tough because many organisations are not taking students for practicals even though things are going back to normal. In addition, there are restrictions within their own staff, so its’ quite difficult in terms of human resources, too.



ICSSPE: Aside from shifting to blended learning within your department, has there been any other major changes?


We were just initiating a project that was supposed to have started this year. It's called Adopt School Programme. We had identified about six schools that are close to the university. We were going to partner with them to run programmes which we designed and implemented for them. It was meant to be a long term project. We just finished our initial meetings with them and they agreed and were very excited for us to assist them. Now everything is back to zero, but we are hoping that after the pandemic we will continue with our projects.



ICSSPE: What is the aim of the Adopt School Programme?


Khuliso: We did interview at the schools, to check which sports activities they would require assistance with from us. For example, among those schools we have two schools for learners with disabilities. So the programme is designed to promote inclusion. Some of the schools identified their programme needs themselves and for the others we identified these for them to see where we can help with their physical activity development.



ICSSPE: How do you feel your department has dealt with the changes?


Khuliso: Judging from the way people have been working together, assisting each other, I think when we work together and really put our minds together, we achieve so much more than we think. We are better prepared now. I'm not saying we are the best, but we managed to come up with solutions. I've seen that team work helps things to move forward.