5 & 6 June: Innovative approaches to blended learning during times of disruptions at a University of Technology in South Africa

Dr Daniela Gachago, Centre for Innovative Educational Technology, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), South Africa
Cheryl Belford, Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying, Faculty of Engineering, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), South Africa
Bronwyn Swartz, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), South Africa

Format: Two one hour webinars Monday 5 June and Tuesday 6 June, both days at 1 pm (SAST)

Join us Tuesday 6 June for the second webinar:

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Blended learning is a key concern in recent times in higher education. Blended learning will manifest itself differently in different institutions as it becomes part of the core organisational culture. This seminar is part of a larger project aimed at understanding the breadth and depth of blended learning practices in the institution, with a particular focus on the use of open educational resources in teaching and learning. We will describe two lecturers’ attempts at moving their teaching and assessment into an online space during the 2016 student protests after campuses shut down and face to face teaching was not longer possible. While the disruption could be seen as trigger for innovation, they also raise difficult questions around the ethics of online learning in a context of inequality. Framed by Joan Tronto’s Ethics of Care qualities, we will explore what it means to ethically engage in open/blended practices in the context of the current higher education climate with the continued call for equal access to educational resources.

This seminar will run in two parts. Part 1 will introduce blended learning and the ethics of care and share the two lecturers’ experiences during the FMF protests. Seminar 2 will be a collaborative and reflective space, where participants will reflect on their own practices and address the following questions framed by the Ethics of Care principles:

  • How does an ethical blended learning practice look like?
  • What conditions need to be in place for an ethical blended learning practice?
  • What do we need to know about our students?
  • How does our practice relate to the institutional context?

For inspiration, please watch the following short videos by Bronwyn Swartz and Cheryl Belford:

Come and take part in the conversation on our Facebook event page

Daniela Gachago is a senior lecturer in the Centre for Innovative Educational Technology at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Her research interests lie in the potential of emerging technologies to improve teaching and learning in higher education, with a particular focus on using technologies such as social media and digital storytelling as socially just pedagogies. She completed a PHD at the UCT School of Education where she explored the role of emotions in transforming students’ engagement across difference and a Masters in Adult Education at the University of Botswana.

Bronwyn Swartz is a lecturer on the Quality Programme in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at CPUT. She lectures Statistical Quality Techniques III and Quality Techniques IV, and supervises students research projects on both BTech and MTech level. She is passionate about her students, which prompted her to actively look for ways to support her teaching. Embracing technology for teaching has opened up a new world of possibilities for her and her students. She obtained a MTech Quality (Cum Laude) from CPUT and is currently a registered student completing a DPhil Quality Management at DUT.

Cheryl Belford is a lecturer on the Transportation Engineering Programme in the Department of Civil Engineering at CPUT. She lectures Transportation III, Transportation Planning IV and Transportation Technology IV and supervises student’s research projects on BTech level. Her research interests lie in the effect of changing mobility practices on the everyday life of commuters in South African cities. She is committed to ensuring a robust academic experience for the next generation of Civil Technologists. Her pedagogy has shifted toward Open Educational Practice as it encourages peer to peer learning and empowers her academic identity. She obtained a MEng Transportations Studies from UCT in 2008.

This seminar has ended. For resources and recordings please view YouTube Playlist above and share your thoughts and reflections in the Facebook event page

25 May: Understanding lecturer’s adoption of OER: a multi-factorial approach

Seminar series: Growing Open Educational Practices in Africa SEMINAR 2
Presenter: Dr. Glenda Cox, Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching, University of Cape Town

Format: One hour webinar Thursday 25 May, 1 pm (SAST)

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The Research on Open Educational Resources for Development (ROER4D) project aims to provide evidence-based research from a number of countries in South America, Sub-Saharan Africa and South / South East Asia. The research referred to in this presentation is from one of 18 sub-projects from 26 countries that aims to redress the current imbalance where so much research on OER is from the Global North. The primary objective of the programme is to improve educational policy, practice, and research in developing countries by better understanding the use and impact of OER. I conduct research in one of the programme’s sub-projects, focusing – with my colleague Henry Trotter – on OER in South Africa. For more information, see: http://www.roer4d.org

This study analyses the barriers and enablers of OER adoption at three South African universities, in order to better understand why South African lecturers adopt – or do not adopt – OER. Based on interviews with 18 lecturers at the universities of Cape Town (UCT), Fort Hare (UFH) and South Africa (UNISA), this qualitative study focuses on lecturers’ teaching practices as they relate to (potential) open educational activity. To do this, the study developed and utilised three key analytical frameworks and concepts for assessing and comparing OER (in)activity at the universities. These frameworks will be introduced in the session and there are links below to a poster and a article that elaborate on our approach.

The interviews revealed some insights into the open practices of some academics but mostly they revealed a lack of open practice. This lack of open practice will be explained by using the developed tools that look at institutional readiness. There are also interesting personal motivations and concerns about sharing and using OER that will be outlined.

At the end of the sessions participants will have some practical knowledge of tools to look at OER readiness and some questions to think about when starting out or researching OER and Open Educational Practices (OEP).

Links and articles for interest:

Trotter, H. & Cox, G. (2016) The OER Adoption Pyramid. Presentation at Open Education Global 2016. 12-14 April 2016: Krakow, Poland. Retrieved from http://open.uct.ac.za/handle/11427/18936
Data available: https://www.datafirst.uct.ac.za/dataportal/index.php/catalog/555/related_materials
Journal publication:

Dr Glenda Cox is a senior lecturer at CILT and her portfolio includes Curriculum projects, Teaching with Technology innovation grants, Open Education Resources and Staff development. She has recently completed her PhD in Education and her research focused on using the theoretical approach of Social Realism to explain why academic staff choose to contribute or not to contribute their teaching resources as open educational resources. She believes supporting and showcasing UCT staff who are excellent teachers, both in traditional face-to-face classrooms and the online world, is of great importance. She is passionate about the role of Open Education in the changing world of Higher Education.

This seminar has ended – recording is available here!


23 May: Open Educational Practices (OEP) for teaching in higher education

Seminar series: Growing Open Educational Practices in Africa SEMINAR 1
Presenter: Catherine Cronin, Centre for Excellence in Learning & Teaching (CELT), National University of Ireland, Galway

Format: One hour webinar Tuesday 23 May, 1 pm (SAST)

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Open educational practices (OEP) is a broad descriptor of practices that include the creation, use and reuse of open educational resources (OER) as well as open pedagogies and open sharing of teaching practices. As compared with OER, there has been little empirical research on educators’ use of OEP for teaching in higher education. Catherine’s research addresses this gap, exploring the digital and pedagogical strategies of university educators, focusing on whether, why and how they use open educational practices for teaching.
Catherine’s research was conducted at one European university based on semi-structured interviews with educators across multiple disciplines. Using a constructivist grounded theory approach, she found four dimensions shared by open educators: balancing privacy and openness, developing digital literacies, valuing social learning, and challenging traditional teaching role expectations. She argues that the use of OEP by educators is complex, personal, and contextual; it is also continuously negotiated. Her findings suggest that research-informed policies and collaborative and critical approaches to openness are required to support staff, students, and learning in an increasingly complex higher education environment

This online event invites us to discuss and consider the following (among other) questions:

  • Why and when might  educators and educational technology practitioners choose open, and why not?
  • In our contexts, how can we balance personal choice (regarding openness) with  institutional and other constraints?

How can we grow open educational practices in African Higher Education?

Links and articles for interest:

Catherine Cronin is an educator, researcher and PhD candidate at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Her work focuses on openness and open education, digital identity practices, and exploring the boundary between formal and informal learning. She is currently completing her PhD exploring the use of open educational practices (OEP) in higher education. Catherine has been involved in teaching, research and advocacy in higher education and in the community for over 25 years. Catherine advocates a critical approach to openness; she is a regular contributor to conversations and collaborative projects in the area of open education, within Ireland and globally.

This webinar has ended – recording available here

12 May 2017: Exploring the interface between learning design and evaluation

Presenter: Carmel McNaught, University of Johannesburg, South Africa &  David Kennedy, First Connexions, Hong Kong

Format: Two hour Adobe Connect live 11 am – 1 pm (SAST) via Adobe Connect from the University of Cape Town, South Africa (With possible interaction with presenters via text chat)

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As educators we are designers of learning processes and resources. However, educators are often overwhelmed with the choice of technologies for supporting student learning and what is meant by learning designs with more student-centred pedagogies; terms such as blended learning, flipped learning, student-generated content, etc. can seem off-putting and unhelpful. Learning designs can only be effective when one thinks about (and eventually answers) the questions: How do I expect that this choice of learning design will support students in their learning? How do I know that the learning design was effective? So, evaluation and learning design are tightly intertwined. In this seminar we will unpack what is meant by designing for learning and explore what is involved in scholarly evaluation of learning designs, illustrating the talk with examples from projects involving mobile technologies and ePortfolios; and also those where groupwork, peer review and peer assessment are essential to the learning design, especially for large class sizes. Our examples will come from a range of discipline areas: English language, Social Geography, Business and Chemistry.

Carmel McNaught is a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Learning Technologies Unit of the Department Science and Technology Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Johannesburg. Carmel is also an Emeritus Professor of Learning Enhancement and former Director of the Centre for Learning Enhancement and Research (CLEAR) at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Before that she was Head of Professional Development in Learning Technology Services at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. She has previous experiences in southern Africa at the University of Zimbabwe and University of KwaZulu Natal. She has worked in the fields of chemistry; science education; second-language learning; learning design; and curriculum, policy, and quality-assurance matters in higher education. She has served on the editorial boards of 18 international journals; and is a prolific author with over 350 academic publications. Since 2012, she has been a higher-education consultant, working mostly in Africa, Australia, Hong Kong and other countries in Asia, New Zealand, the UAE and the UK.

Dr David M KennedyDr David M Kennedy has held a number of senior positions in universities in four countries and consulted in an additional 16 countries. Most recently he was Executive Director: Teaching and Learning at the Higher Colleges of Technology in the UAE, Professor and Deputy Dean: Teaching and Learning at James Cook University (Singapore), Associate Professor and Director of the Teaching and Learning Centre, Lingnan University and Programme Director at the University of Hong Kong. His work has included professional development in teaching and learning, research training, and programme and course design. He has also led and contributed to numerous strategic institutional initiatives involving quality assurance, accreditation and programme reviews, and reviews of institutional IT to support Teaching and Learning. He has published >100 academic research papers/ reports, which focused on innovation in the use of ICTs in T&L in multiple academic disciplines, including Education, Medicine, Language learning and Business. Prior to entering higher education he was Head of Science at two private colleges for almost 10 years. He is currently Managing Director, First Connexions, which focuses on supporting teaching, learning and quality matters in higher education.

This seminar has ended – recording is available here

9 May 2017: Take the Distance Out of Distance Learning – Leveraging Online E-collaboration and Social Presence

Presenter: Kelly Elander, Assistant Professor, Harding University, United States

Format: One hour Adobe Connect webinar 4 pm (SAST)

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A significant challenge to course designers has always been to keep learners engaged and avoid feelings of isolation and detachment, which leads to high course dropout rates (Bonk & Khoo, 2014; Vakoufari, Christina, & Mavroidis, 2014). This presentation will showcase techniques online instructors can use to make learners feel connected and involved. These techniques came from research and conclusions made from two recent book chapters. The techniques will be explained, and examples will be given.

Dr. Kelly Elander coordinates the web design and interactive media program at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. He holds a B.S. in Communication from Ohio University, a Master’s in adult instruction and performance technology from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in instructional design for online learning from Capella University. More details about Dr. Kelly Elander here.

This webinar has ended – please find recording and resources available here.

4 May: Learning analytics: Opportunities and dilemmas

Presenter: Paul Prinsloo, Research Professor in Open and Distance Learning, University of South Africa (Unisa)

Format: Live online meeting on Thursday 4 May at 1 pm (SAST)

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As higher education increasingly moves to online and digital learning spaces, we have access not only to greater volumes of student data, but also to increasingly fine-grained and nuanced data’ (Prinsloo & Slade, 2017).

This session provides an introduction to learning analytics. Paul shares how this data is being used by institutions for a range of purposes and stakeholders, as well as some of the implications and ethics involved in doing so. Some universities in Africa are wondering whether or not to invest the time and resources in learning analytics, how best to make use of and how to collect it. Others are already making use of it institutionally or in specific contexts rather than at an institutional level. Paul will discuss some of his recent research, including how uses of learning analytics unfolded at South Africa’s largest open distance education provider.

The webinar encourages us to engage with the following questions:

  • Is bigger data better data? What evidence can such data provide and what are some of the shortcomings?
  • What are some of the ethical dilemmas involved in uses of student data?
  • Is the hype over learning analytics based on idealism rather than reality? How can we move beyond the hype of learning analytics?
  • Are lessons learnt from the global north about uses of learning analytics a useful starting point for educators in African Higher Education? What do we adopt and where do we adapt?

Prof. Paul PrinslooPaul Prinsloo, is a Research Professor in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in the College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa (Unisa). His academic background includes fields as diverse as theology, art history, business management, online learning, and religious studies. Paul is an established researcher and has published numerous articles in the fields of teaching and learning, student success in distance education contexts, learning analytics, and curriculum development. His current research focuses on the collection, analysis and use of student data in learning analytics, graduate supervision and digital identity. Paul was born curious and in trouble. Nothing has changed since then. He blogs at https://opendistanceteachingandlearning.wordpress.com/ and his Twitter alias is @14prinsp

This webinar has ended, please view recording and other resources here