Academic and Research Activities during COVID-19

 


 

Please update your contact details, especially your cellphone number, so that we can effectively communicate with you during this period.

Data and laptops

Provision of data to students

All students registered for the 2020 academic year will receive 30GB of data with effect from 5 May 2020. The University has made arrangements with mobile network operators to load the data to bona fide students subscribing to their respective networks. Please ensure that your cell phone number has been updated.

Students are urged to be frugal in the use of data. Guidelines for data management can be found on this page. In addition, students are advised to seek zero-rated sites (sites that can be accessed without attracting data costs) with digital resources for learning, teaching and research.

Any enquiries on data can be directed at studentdata@mandela.ac.za

Provision of laptops to students

Not all students have a computing device to participate in online learning remotely.

The University is again offering students the opportunity to obtain a laptop through the Student Laptop Initiative. (This project is now into its second year and is being re-opened to enable all students to benefit).

Students are encouraged to apply online for a laptop.

Please bear in mind that the stock may not be immediately available because of demand, but that the University will try to fast-track processes in acquiring additional stock.

Zero-rated websites

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 on the University’s academic year, cellular service providers have offered to zero-rate certain learning websites for all universities. This means a user can access content via their cellular service at no cost. 

What does Zero-Rated Data mean?

  • Zero-Rated Traffic means that students can access specific websites without depleting their data bundle or airtime.

Which websites are Zero-Rated?

Website MTN Vodacom Cell-C Telkom Mobile

https://www.mandela.ac.za

Yes Yes Yes Yes

https://learn.mandela.ac.za

Yes Yes Yes Yes

https://students.mandela.ac.za

Yes Yes Yes Yes

http://unitube.mandela.ac.za/

Yes No Yes No

https://assessment.mandela.ac.za

Yes Yes Yes Yes

https://Incoko.mandela.ac.za

Yes Yes Yes Yes

https://wowza.l.nmmu.ac.za

Yes No Yes No

https://webservices.nmmu.ac.za

Yes Yes Yes Yes

https://itsweb.mandela.ac.za

Yes Yes Yes Yes

https://webapps.mandela.ac.za

Yes Yes Yes Yes

https://applyonline.mandela.ac.za

Yes Yes Yes Yes

 

Which websites / services are NOT Zero-Rated:

  • All Microsoft 365 websites (incl. Outlook, SharePoint and Teams)
  • Library content hosted externally (Seals.ac.za has been submitted for consideration)
  • YouTube
  • Zoom

What does it mean:

  • Links within Moodle that direct to any other external website which is not Zero-Rated (e.g. to SharePoint or YouTube) will result in costs / data charges for Students.

Which Network Providers have implemented Zero-Rated Data:

  • All the Mobile Network Providers have implemented Zero-Rated Data
  • Vodacom and Telkom Mobile have excluded content heavy URLs (Unitube)

Are there any Limits or Download Caps?

  • Not on the Zero-Rated Websites

Whereas efforts have been made to test the zero-rated sites, we advise students to have minimal data credits (e.g. 5MB) to ensure no glitches with accessing all zero-rated sites.

This overview was released on the 23 April 2020. Please be aware that there will be ongoing changes to Zero-Rated Traffic Rules.

Guidelines for data management

Web browsing and social media:

  • Turn off automatic media downloads in apps such as WhatsApp
  • Turn off auto play in video apps like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram

Video and audio:

  • Turn off video when meeting online (audio only – Microsoft Teams and WhatsApp are the preferred tools)
  • Attempt to make media rich content (videos, images) optional/accompanied by text alternatives
  • When viewing videos, select low resolution options. High Definition (HD) videos use high volumes of data.

Hardware operating systems:

  • Turn off automatic system updates and if possible, choose critical updates only. Schedule these to take place at night.
  • If your device has low data or data saver modes, activate them.

Collaboration and communication:

  • Email documents in a zipped format but use email as a last resort. Content should rather be loaded on Moodle where possible. Moodle itself enables some communication methods:
    • The introduction of a standard discussion forum on Moodle courses to enable staff to address any student concerns collectively.  The Forum provides a means for students and staff to communicate as a whole class or in small groups.
    • The announcements forum is useful as a one-way broadcast channel that will reach all students; ideal for circulating important course information.
  • Moodle is zero-rated, but all content external to Moodle, like links to YouTube, Turnitin, Microsoft Teams, etc. are not even if they are in a Moodle site.
  • Turn off cloud storage and synchronizing options such as Microsoft OneDrive.
  • Synchronize or download content during lower rate periods, if applicable.

An example of data consumption using the Microsoft Teams online collaboration tool:

Voice to Voice
5MB for 5 minutes
60MB per hour

Voice sharing to Voice with PowerPoint
10MB for 5 minutes.
120MB per hour

One way Video
35MB for 5 minutes
420MB per hour

Two way Video
60MB for 5 minutes
720MB per hour

Recording is on par with data usage.

Video calls will scales to higher quality based on available internet speed and can consume higher data.