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The Durban University of Technology (DUT) continues to commend all its essential workers for their dedication and commitment in providing services to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. DUT’s Communications team’s Waheeda Peters spoke to Dr Olugbenga (Benga) Aderibigbe, the Online Distance Learning (ODL) Executive Project Coordinator at the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT).

Q: Kindly tell me about your role at DUT?

A: “My role is to lead the implementation of fully online distance learning at the University and as part of that role I manage all aspects of the contractual relationship between the University and its private sector Open and Distance Learning (ODL) implementation partner.

Q: How long have you been in that role?

A: “I have been in this role since the middle of May 2021 which makes it about five months.”

Q: Please describe yourself in a few words?

A:” I am a goal-driven individual that is guided by the personal philosophy that all challenges are opportunities to learn and thus constitute building blocks to success.”

Q: How has it been like working during COVID-19?

A: “The preparatory stage for the introduction of fully online distance learning at the University requires the office to conduct stakeholder engagements to ensure buy-in and support for the project from stakeholders. This happening during the time of limited physical contact means that the dynamics of physical meetings that enhance trust building are absent to some extent. The good side of this however is that the importance of virtual engagements be it for work or learning related purpose has been brought to the fore thus affirming that the University management took the right decision to launch the ODL project.”

Q: How do you deal with the fear of contracting COVID-19 and losing loved ones due to this virus?

A: “One strives on a daily basis to fully comply with all the protocols in respect of keeping safe from getting infected with COVID-19. Family members as well as friends and colleagues are also encouraged to do their best to avoid any situation that may lead to them contracting the virus thus limiting the risk of ill-health and minimising the chances of the incidence of trauma associated with losing loved ones.”

Q: What is your daily motivation?

A: “I am motivated on daily basis by that single desire to see the first cohort of students getting registered for online distance learning programmes at the University.”

Q: Kindly take me through a normal day in your life?

A: “My typical day starts with a quick review of the to-do lists for the week and for the day. This is followed by going through the correspondence that might have arrived late in the previous day or early in the morning. The rest of the day is spent in meetings with the various teams responsible for different aspects of the roll-out of ODL programmes and attending to problems and challenges that may need the attention of the ODL office.”

Q: What are your thoughts about the vaccine and its importance to students and staff?

A: “I think getting vaccinated should be a pragmatic approach for everyone to minimise the risks associated with contracting the COVID-19 virus. I will encourage all students and staff members to get vaccinated in order to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?

A: “I enjoy reading and watching news as well as going on road trips.”

Q: If you had one wish what would it be?

A: “To realise my dream of a DUT that is a leading player in the fully online distance learning space.”

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