Although the hospitality and tourism sector has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdown, Dr Mhlanga, who is also the Programme Leader for Hospitality, says students have mostly been able to continue with their studies through blended learning and teaching, which the university offers. Also included is Work Integrated Learning (WIL), a key component for a practically inclined qualification in this industry.
Dr Mhlanga says as part of the teaching philosophy via Moodle, the institution also makes use of practical learning in the training kitchens and restaurant on campus (which will happen under COVID-19 safety measures when the university reopens for third year students as announced by the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande).
“Since blended learning is part of our teaching philosophy not much has changed. Perhaps the biggest change has been the increase in online assessments, discussion forums and digital practical laboratories,” adds Dr Mhlanga.
"Since not all students are allowed back on campus, online teaching and learning still continues for those who have to stay at home. Furthermore, various social media platforms will continue to be used for consultations and as a supplementary teaching platform. But of course, as lecturers we miss face-to-face interaction with our students."
As part of the curriculum, hospitality students are expected to go for Work Integrated Learning (WIL) in the first semester at second year, and in the second semester of their third year. But sadly when the country was placed under lockdown, hospitality establishments were closed and students’ contracts were terminated.
“In order not to compromise teaching and learning, another teaching methodology, namely project-based learning was used for students who were on WIL. However, as the entire industry moves into the unknown, the university hotel and restaurant offers another avenue for third year students to do their WIL so that the academic project is not compromised.”
Some students doing hospitality will be part of the first batch of learners who will be back on campus on 29 June 2020 under Level 3 of the National Lockdown.
@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures @Chrisclphoto.