The AOS Experience
To get insights of the learning experience within the AOS MSc programme, we’ve asked students enrolled in the 2020 programme to share with us their perspective, particularly their learning curves during lockdown. Fortunate Shingange and Zanele Binase agreed to participate.
Coming from a field of study outside of Oceanography (Fortunate holds a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Pretoria and Zanele a BSc degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Witwatersrand), they both applied to the AOS MSc for their interests in the ocean and climate change at large. The combination of theory and hands-on practical was particularly attractive to Fortunate, who saw in this process the opportunity to have solid knowledge in the field. Zanele saw also a great opportunity to learn the widely used programming language Python (commonly used in Oceanography for data analysis and producing figures). Not only the students appreciated to engage with researchers of different background and expertise (through the wide range of topics covered within the AOS MSc programme), but also with one another, which is stimulated by having limited number of AOS students.
At the time of the national lockdown in South Africa (which started in April 2020), the AOS coursework had already started and was entering a very active cycle of lectures and practical classes until the end of June. To let the lecturers prepare and adapt their content for online learning, the AOS students were oriented for a few weeks to start doing literature reading toward their dissertation. The online learning experience presented its ups and downs, as for many across the world, but the AOS students still managed to get a lot from their coursework. With the help of UCT in providing data bundles and making the online resource platform Vula (which stores the AOS online coursework) a zero-data rated site, the students have managed to access relatively easily the online content created by their lecturers and attend videoconference calls. Patience and diligence particularly helped Fortunate in getting the most out of the situation. It was also a learning curve for lecturers, who did their best in guiding the students and providing support, some with more facilities than others.
When we asked Fortunate and Zanele if they had a word of advice for anyone considering to the AOS MSc 2021 edition, here is what they said:
“Be willing to learn a lot of new things and that includes work that is not necessarily related to yours.” communicated Zanele. Indeed, the AOS coursework tackles various topics within Oceanography and as the students start their dissertation, they might notice the need of having a broad picture to explain an observation or a result. It is with this full picture obtained from the coursework that the students are able to connect the dots. A process that might be challenging to see at first for some, but becomes easier one this in mind.
“Definitely go for it, there is so much to learn and gain through the course. The course is designed for your best outcome and experience. There is nothing to be lost but everything to be gained. However you do have to work diligently and responsibly to attain this best outcome.” shared Fortunate with us.
To apply to the 2021 edition of the AOS MSc (Coursework + Dissertation), please visit our page here: http://www.ma-re.uct.ac.za/AOS-applications