Semester Zero: An Innovative Orientation and Nurturing Program

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Chand, Rajni
Goundar, Raveena
Raj, Pratish
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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)
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PCF10 Sub-theme: Inspiring Innovations // The current Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has affected many universities’ orientation as well as study programs. While some are still contemplating whether to open their doors for F2F studies, others face the challenge of fewer students enrolling due to travel restrictions. The University of the South Pacific (USP) will face a different kind of challenge. USP is a regional university co-owned by twelve South Pacific countries. Campuses and sub-campuses are situated in all these countries. Usually, orientation programmes are held at all campuses, but the majority of students travel early to USP’s main campus in Fiji for the orientation program. Due to Covid-19, students’ travel will be restricted, and the orientation programme will be a very small-scale event this year. Additionally, due to delays in Year 13 external examinations for one of its member countries (Fiji), USP will be forced to begin Semester One later. This means more than 3000 provisional students will have to wait for the University to begin in late March instead of the usual mid-February start. To keep these potential students engaged for close to two months, USP initiated an online orientation programme called ""Semester Zero."" The aim of the programme is to introduce these potential new students to USP using a Moodle platform instead of a traditional F2F orientation program, while at the same time incorporating basic numeracy, literacy, and digital skills necessary for new students. // This paper shares the planning, designing, and feedback from students about this program. Semester Zero employs technology and innovations that have a low carbon footprint. // Paper ID 3941
Online Learning, Remote Learning, Higher Education, Rural Communities