Success Project

During the COVID-19 pandemic, classes and meetings were mostly held online but some students had network connectivity problems which affected their ability to attend classes When physical classes or meetings were possible, some students could not always afford transport costs to travel from their far-away homes to the university or tourism business. Staff and students still preferred the traditional contact classes to online classes. Demotivation on the part of student due to dominant virtual classes during the COVID-19 pandemic impacted learning negatively. Change management (having short classes of not more than 30 minutes at a time) was necessary in order to reduce the negative impact. These situations have improved as the pandemic has abated, and students have come back on campus. Students, with the help of the facilitator (who issued an official introduction letter from the university) identified and approached tourism businesses within the local municipality who wanted to participate in the learning process. If the manager or owner of the business accepted, then students worked with the business. The business manager or appointed senior staff facilitated this learning process in the business, through a series of physical and online consultations with the students. Two tourism businesses (industry partners) participated in the years 2021 and 2022 respectively (2021 - uMfolozi College Guest House in eSikhawini & Dumani Lodge in Empangeni; 2022 - KwaNhliziyo Bed and Breakfast in KwaDlangezwa & The Sunbird Guesthouse in Gingindlovu). In order to ensure inclusive teaching and learning for students who could not attend live classes all the time or afford the high data cost, the course coordinator uploaded all recorded theoretical classes and group discussions on a zero-rated (Data) Learning Management System (Moodle) for students to access at their convenience. Challenges encountered: Assessment of learning methods: At the end of this module, a completed tourism strategic marketing plan was submitted and presented to the course facilitator and industry partner (tourism business owner/manager) for comments and evaluation purposes based on the practical relevance. After the evaluation, corrections were made by the students, thereafter the document was handed over to the owner/manager of the business. Students peer-reviewed themselves regarding their participation, documented their reflections on their experience gained in the process (especially how this learning process fostered their employability skills), and evaluated the facilitator in relation to the learning methods. The business representatives were also expected to issue a letter of acceptance regarding the learning output – strategic marketing plan. Students’ feedback / recommendations: Students were excited by the project although they did suggest that in future, the university or tourism business owners should sponsor their transport costs to the establishments. They also requested that business owners provide them the opportunity for internships after graduation. These recommendations are being negotiated. 82