April 23, 2020

Studying with CTIA from Home

When we heard about the school closures a couple of weeks ago, we decided to follow suit with closing CTIA. Except for our December shutdown, we run classes continuously throughout the year.

Most of our campuses just started week 4 of their training programmes and CTIA Mpumalanga started only a weeks ago. We were faced with a difficult situation to either simply stop training for a month or to carry on in some way, bearing in mind that this may be more than a month and that our
students may be stuck at home unable to leave, we decided to carry on.

We have thought about going online for some time but there is something else that comes up such as a new campus to open or other projects that takes priority over it. The other question has always been how do you deliver a culinary qualification which is mostly practical, online.

The added challenge was that our students signed up for a Full-time course and that they might not have all the resources required to access an online platform. We looked at various platforms for a couple of days and at this point realised that these platforms would be overwhelmed with everyone switching online and that some of our students may not be able to access it.

With this in mind, we decided to use platform students can easily access, students know how to operate and have built-in download and view offline features, Youtube.

Documents will be distributed using Dropbox Links and students will be able to make submissions using email and Whatsapp. We want to keep the distribution of the lessons private and Youtube has an unlisted feature which only allows users who have a link to access the information, we could make it publicly available later but this works for now.

We started out with Youtube Live streams to add an element of interaction with students asking questions and the lecturer answering them, this worked well but you need a very reliable internet connection to host it.

There is also a lot of prep that goes into a live stream and we only had 60% of the students tune in. What we discovered after the live stream is that the video would be viewed repeatedly, one lesson for which we have about 180 students enrolled was viewed almost 500 times.

The key is to be flexible. It might be tedious to receive a student’s submission over Whatsapp and its

8 photos that you need to download and add to a folder, but what it boils down to is that they completed those 8 pages and that education is carrying on. We made the decision to carry on and to support our students by giving them purpose during this difficult time.