What Wittenborg Classes Looked Like on First Day of New Academic Year

Wittenborg Lecturers Impress as they Navigate Hybrid Teaching with Ease on First Day of New Academic Year

A smaller number of students than at the typical start of a new academic year were spotted at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences' campus in Apeldoorn on Monday morning with the majority logging in online for classes. Those students and staff who did attend in person could be seen wearing masks in common areas or social distancing in classes. Aside from a few technical glitches, everything was running as planned, said Wittenborg's Head of Operations, Lasantha de Silva.

"Honestly, it's good to be back in class and engaging face to face with students after almost 6 months," enthused lecturer Stanley Mbelu. He showed up early for the Corporate Entrepreneurship course he teaches to IBA students, setting up his laptop to engage with online students. For a few nervous minutes, it looked like not a single student was going to show up in person for the class, but soon a few were rushing in.

Making All Students Feel Included

Mbelu did an impressive job navigating students online and those in class simultaneously and with ease while making sure no-one felt left out. "I love teaching. I love to see students enter a class with no knowledge and leaving as experts." One of the first things he told those logging in online was: "I want you to have the feeling that you are in an actual class environment."

Next door to him, lecturer Fjorentina Muco also tried her best to make classes as normal as possible, chatting to the handful of students in her class as well as the participants online, getting right into explaining the resources students will need for the course. 

Notices about COVID-19 regulations could be seen all over the campus in Apeldoorn, common spaces were quiet, students and staff were urged to wash their hands regularly, numbers in classes were limited with appropriate distancing between students, masks were required when people left their desks and many members of staff continue to work from home.

De Silva said so far he is happy with the way things had gone on the first day under the circumstances. "Indeed, in the morning there were a few technical hiccups, but I think everyone is doing their best. The students who did show up for class are mostly the new ones, while many current students opted for online learning. But this is only the first day and we will see how it goes."

He said some students had concerns about how the exams - of which the first will be in a mere 6 weeks - will be conducted, but assured them that the university will communicate clearly and in time about that.

The international students Wittenborg News spoke to last week said they were not nervous about attending classes and feel adequate precautions have been taken to keep everyone safe. Indonesian student, Michael Juan, said he has been in the Netherlands about a month and so far things have gone well.

WUP 2/9/2020
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press

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