Being a student at university is a gnarly accomplishment as you are one step towards becoming a self-reliant person who will contribute to his/her wellbeing and to that of those who are in your entourage.
During this period, keeping up with the rapid manner in which things happen at tertiary institutions may be challenging. This is among other reasons for a student to optimally make use of the various, available resources provided by an institution of study.
The University of Johannesburg (UJ) through its student-oriented, support systems allow for its students to adapt to the pace of their learning processes.
One way of doing such is through what the institution’s Centre for Academic Technologies, commonly known by its abbreviation as CAT, has recently conceptualised as APPtimised learning.
“APPtimised learning is really using easy ways to access your learning content and finding things . . . on your smartphone or on your tablet. The term is really a play on words,” explains Thea de Wet, the Director of CAT.
“We are actually trying to get students to use apps as an easy way to access whatever they are studying . . . We want to make the smartphone experience – coming to campus with a phone – better,” says de Wet.
Although you are able to get hold of a number of applications to lessen the burdens of constantly strengthening your skills, the Director points out “that we are promoting a few, key apps that will quickly give students access to study materials, make printing easier and request emergency help”.
These apps that she refers to are EveryonePrint, Jozi Free Wifi, Blackboard, miEbooks and Namola. They can be divided into two main categories: academic content apps and a safety app.
Academic content apps & sites
uLink, Blackboard and uGO
The buzz is that most UJ students visit uLink mainly for access to their institution’s 24/7 Learning Management System (LMS), Blackboard (Bb) accounts.
uLink is the “a single sign-on portal where UJ students can access pretty much anything they need from Blackboard, our LMS, to their student financial statements and so on,” explains de Wet.
The Bb app allows you to no longer rely on first login to uLink in order to acquire academic content. Instead,
- you need to have a smartphone, tablet or laptop with Internet connection,
- download the app from an app store (Google Play Store), and then
- set it up by using your student number and email password to login.
With the Bb App’s new offline feature, “you can work at home . . . download essential stuff from your modules on campus before going home . . . and come back to campus tomorrow. So, that is quite handy,” says de Wet.
None the less, if your appetite of obtaining content about the services rendered by the institution is not pleased, a quick visit to UJ’s uGO will be helpful.
EveryonePrint and Student web print
EveryonePrint is an application that makes it possible for students to print documents from their smartphones and tablets by
- selecting the document,
- sharing it to the app,
- setting the output options (copies, duplex – simplex, duplex long/short edge – and the force black/white), and then
- submitting it to the campus of your choice represented by its abbreviation.
You can actually queue your printing, say your essay, from your phone and then print it out in one of the printing stations in the campus of your choice – simple as that.
For those who prefer to use another online method of printing out content, you will need to
- login-in to UJ’s student web print by typing in your student number and uLink password,
- upload the necessary document to the web,
- wait for the processing of the document to be completed,
- select the setting output option(s) and then choose the campus of your choice
Either strategy of printing out study materials can be applied anywhere when one has the required device and Internet connection. The app, in particular, has to be downloaded from an app store such as Google Play Store.
Hence, “there is no need to queue at the laps waiting for a computer,” says de Wet.
miEbooks, on the other hand, is an e-learning app that one can use to read e-books. It performs the same function as Bluefire Reader, Adobe Acrobat, EBSCO eBooks and iTunes U, which can be downloaded via either Google Play, Windows or Apple App Store.
The app has so far facilitated UJ’s task of delivery textbooks to its students, says de Wet. It is utilised by the University’s students and staff.
Jozi Free WiFi
There need to upload content on Bb by lecturers or course coordinators is unavoidable; printing of the required readings can also be inevitable, but without Internet connection, all of those activities cannot be performed.
Hence, the Centre encourages students to download the Jozi Free WiFi geolocation app to identify and get direction to the various locations in the City of Johannesburg consisting of WiFi hotpots for a daily 300MB worth of data, which amounts to 9GB per month.
This is helpful, considering that there are more than 1000 active Internet connection points in Johannesburg, says de Wet. These spots include libraries, community centres, schools, Rea Vaya bus stations, parks and public swimming pools.
To create the app, “UJ partnered with the City of Johannesburg . . . So, when you go on the website or navigate your way in the app, you’ll see that the app was developed with the help of UJ developers,” says de Wet.
There is one important app, Namola, that UJ has been introducing to its stakeholders and in so doing, help the institution tackle the crime rates of its contiguous areas.
“Namola is a crime response app . . . that the SAPS (South African Police Service) is rolling out nationwide. It started at Twswane but it is really big now in Gauteng, especially in the City of Johannesburg,” says de Wet.
The crime related, emergency application signals a 24/7 response call centre about one’s need of urgent assistance after you have sent your name, GPS Co-ordinates and the description of the emergency.
It can be downloaded at any of the app stores (Google, Windows and Apple).
As a UJ stakeholder, you may have not noticed the fifty students’ eBuddies during the orientation week, who were sent to all the four campuses alongside the Centre’s staff to aid students in downloading and using these apps.
However, pay attention to the dark brown tiles surfacing Auckland Park Kingsway campus main building’s interior corridor for mostly purple cat paws, which lead one to the Centre, situated at D Ring 3.
For assistance regarding your Bb or other technological enquiries, head off to the CAT helpdesk at the APK campus during operational hours. Or you can contact the Centre via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or telephone (011 559 3580).
(Contact Gaby Ndongo: email@example.com; +27 72 524 6053)