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