UNISA Distance Learning

Open Distance Learning (ODL) is a different way of learning

ODL is a different way of learning… there is a physical distance between you and your university. For most of us, this means that our previous learning experiences will not have prepared us for the Unisa study journey. In distance learning, YOU are responsible for your studies. You don’t attend daily lectures. You learn from a distance and you connect to the university mostly via the internet.
But this doesn’t mean that you are on your own. Unisa has a number of support services for our students – from tutorial support and counselling, to online tools. The “distance” in distance learning means that most of your interactions with Unisa will take place at a distance – mostly in digital format.

Your study material

Your study material will consist of written content, whether on paper (eg prescribed books or textbooks) or online (eg e-reserves), instead of listening to a teacher or lecturer in a classroom. In some instances, Unisa provides access to computers and the internet at our regional offices and other partner organisations, but you should have your own computer and access to the internet.

Your study world

The best way to cope with distance learning is to take full responsibility for your own learning experience and environment. Your study world will be the environment you create – a room at home, a desk somewhere at work and, of course, the connections you make and the virtual networks you develop.

Your time

You will also need to remind your friends, family and work colleagues that your studies demand a lot from you, because they will probably forget that you are studying and make demands on your time.

Student services & support

As an open distance learning university, there is not much face-to-face contact between Unisa and our students. Nonetheless, our students come first and we provide many services to support you during your Unisa journey, such as our libraries, counselling services, regional centres and various student bodies.

Unisa provides you with a number of support services that will help you on your journey:

myUnisa Unisa’s online student portal is the university’s most important study tool. It is how you will communicate with Unisa and how Unisa will communicate with you.
myLife e-mail account Registered Unisa students all get a free myLife e-mail account. Important information, notices and updates are sent exclusively to this account.
Social media FacebookTwitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are great channels through which to share ideas, find other students, ask questions and generally stay informed.
Unisa Radio Internet-based Unisa Radio is a vibrant and informative platform of information and topics focused on our Unisa students. Its programming consists of music, informative interviews and talk shows.
Regional centres Unisa’s distance education character is also reflected in the regional structure, which includes seven regions, namely Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Midlands, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and the Western Cape. Together, these comprise 28 hubs, service centres and agencies that serve many thousands of students. At most of the regional offices we have learning centres where distance learners can go to in order to get various forms of support for their studies. This includes face-to-face tutorials and access to computers.
Telecentres Through the telecentre initiative, Unisa students have access to 1 450 computers with internet access in rural areas throughout South Africa. Telecentres are private facilities equipped with computers connected to the internet, printers, photocopiers, scanners, faxes, telephones, and so on. Administrators are also on hand to assist students.
The Dean of Students and Student Affairs The Dean of Students promotes students’ psychosocial needs and develops globally networked student leadership.
Student counselling Unisa’s counselling services provide career, academic and personal support to students. Support is available online and by e-mail, in person, by telephone and by letter.
Library The library is one of the university’s indispensable resources. Knowing how to use it (and using it extensively) is central to the successful Unisa student experience. The Unisa library is the largest academic library in Africa, containing more than 2.7 million items, including books, reference resources, e-books, e-newspapers and e-journals

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