Talking to the vibrant Simon Ndlovu, who is heading an exciting new initiative of the First-Year Students Experience (FYSE) of the Student Development unit, under the coordination of Prof Livingstone Makondo of the Centre of Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) and helm of Professor Thengani Ngwenya, director of CELT.
Can you tell me how are you involved, and when did the FYSE programme offically begin at DUT?
I am responsible for offering digital and or technological support to the first year DUT students for this project which was piloted in 2015 and in 2016 it began functioning as FYSE, a University wide programme.
Why is it vital that DUT have such a project?
Over the years we did not have a formal DUT wide project that supported, equipped or trained students on using DUT online systems and other educational systems that could assist them in their learning journey. This initiative is in line with the DUT 2015-2019 Strategic Plans’ first strategic focus area of creating communities of living and learning for DUT students. This project run under the FYSE is meant to assist the entire DUT students to acquire greater skills to learn, communicate, access and share information and documents online. In short, it is meant to assist students during their transition from high school to University studies. It is also critical as feedback CELT got from completed FYSE surveys indicates that the majority of DUT first year students do not join the University with the technical know-how of how to use these knowledges for enhancing their educational studies. It is important to be involved in this initiative because the University is trying to cut-down on too much paper printing and this programme is important because it gives students knowledge on accessing information using different methods on different devices. Learning does not only happen in the class it also happens online, home even at residences. Therefore this programme provides students with the skills they need to survey in the technological world.
From your experience, has this enhanced learning at DUT?
Yes, this is so as we get positive feedback from the students who participated in the training through their abilities to now use the devices, positive evaluations of sessions and from teaching staff who testify that their they could see an increase in the usage of the University technology systems for learning purposes. Therefore, the initiative has helped a lot of students as indicated by our various platforms we have in place that assists us to keep track of the progress of this programme.
Are there any further projects like this on the cards for DUT?
There may be projects like this but this is an institution wide programme which is housed at the E-Learning Unit at the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. We do invite faculties and departments to make use of this opportunity and book the training for their students. We encourage students to make use of this service which is meant to support them with technological aspect of their learning. This programme equip students on how to use ThinkLearnZone, DUT4life account, synchronise personal emails with DUT4life email account on their smartphones or tablets, how to apply for NSFAS, use student portal, typing skills, referencing system, support Apps and other educational online and offline systems.
We encourage staff and students to use these systems to their fullest capacity than uploading and accessing notes, as there is more to gain and learn through these educational supporting systems. For more information, contact Simon Ndlovu via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 031 373 6755.
Pictured: Students attending the FYSE programme workshop at DUT.