While vaccinations for COVID-19 now exist they remain unobtainable for most South Africans as the pandemic continues. To allow students to continue visiting University of South Africa (Unisa) campuses, the school has instituted an automated booking system that has proven successful.
Unisa has outlined the creation and use of this system in an official announcement. This announcement reveals some numbers about the adoption of online bookings stating that around 73 000 students have registered for it, and 90 000 bookings have been made so far.
Some variant of the system has existed since late last year, giving new and returning students time to become comfortable with the idea of booking a campus visit.
As Unisa is best known as a distance education university, and learning from home has become the norm during the pandemic, it may seem odd to still want to physically visit a campus. There are still many reasons for it, however, including using Unisa’s student internet access to save on expensive data, receiving in-person help with enquiries, use of computers and more.
Data comes up again as the booking system had two main goals: creation in the shortest time possible to allow a return to campus while following government regulations, and lower data usage.
“In addition, mobile scanners to scan student cards, confirm bookings and capture body temperatures at campus entrance gates and buildings had to be tested, procured, configured and distributed. Various other departments were involved, and the role they played in the realisation of the app was key,” reads the announcement.
Finally we have to point out an oddity on the part of the Unisa. The university routinely calls the booking system an app. It’s not an app, it’s a webpage. We have no idea why Unisa continually refers to it as an app and we’ve seen some confusion from students when they try to find it on the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
Another oddity exists in the infographic below which has step-by-step instructions to register on the system and book a campus visit. This falls at the very first hurdle because the URL provided in step one is incorrect. To get started with a booking go to this URL instead, as the one below is wrong.