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The academic year has officially begun, but it has been anything but smooth sailing for many students. After completing two years online, one would think that Stellenbosch University (SU) students would be used to it all.

“The first week was hectic because the module frameworks were uploaded . . . just before class, and one [hadn’t even been] uploaded after class,” said Rachel Jonker, a third-year BCom (International Business) student, when asked how she found the first week. This sentiment was shared by many other students, who complained that there was confusion about how modules would be structured this year. For some senior students, it might even have felt as if they were in first year again. In addition to all the difficulties, the methodology used to present some modules has also changed.

Many students enjoyed the luxury of being able to access recordings of live lectures last year, but this year some lecturers have decided either not to record lectures or not to upload the recordings when they do. 

“My lectures are mostly not recorded unless there [are] technical difficulties in the venue or with the streaming—which happens pretty often. I think a lot of the time my lecturers record but then don’t make the recording available or make it available for only a few days,” commented Joshua Pheiffer, a second-year BSc (Computer Science) student.

“It is frustrating, but I watch videos on YouTube if I don’t understand something fully. However, it is not the same as the actual lecture,” stated an engineering student, who asked to remain anonymous, regarding the matter and their approach to their studies.

When speaking about her approach to making non-recorded classes work for her and the benefits of in-person classes, Jonker said, “I tried to change my mindset a bit. I am not as stressed about missing small details [and] I pay better attention in [face-to-face] classes because I know I have to concentrate, but also because I am there then, so technical difficulties don’t disrupt me. I don’t need to pause and rewind. The 10 minutes of fresh air when changing classes and lecturers sticking to their 50 minutes also [help] a lot.” 

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