HELTASA conference – day 1

Today was the first day of the HELTASA 2011 conference at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth.Before I post my notes, here are 2 suggestions for the organisers that I think are important:

  • Internet access is essential, not a “nice-to-have”. I know you have a wireless network that we can all connect to, but the wireless network isn’t connected to the internet. If you don’t understand the difference, you have a problem.
  • Coffee and tea shouldn’t only be available for 2 periods of 30 minutes during the day. Sometimes we don’t go to presentations because we want to chat with colleagues. Coffee and tea works well in those situations.

Having said that, the first day was enjoyable, even after a rocky start. Here are my notes.

The changing environment for higher education: going global-staying local
Prof Donald Hanna

All organisations are part of and respond structurally to their environment

Knowledge is dynamic and generative

Changing a curriculum / organisation is like trying to re-build an aeroplane in flight

Need to move from isolation of knowledge to integration

Since Gutenberg, learning has been about “place”. Since the 60’s it’s been about technology, now it should be about “networks” (or maybe “relationships”?)

Using clickers via cellphone (interactive workshop)
JP Bosman, Marinda van Rooyen

Stellenbosch University using a modified instance of Moodle to collect data from students via web interface, rather than buying clickers

Encourage students to use Opera to keep bandwidth requirements down (cost of one exercise is less than R1 per student)

Every student in the pilot projects had web-enabled phones (unlikely to be the case in most South African universities)

Surveyed students prior to the pilot projects to ensure that no-one would be disadvantaged during the process

Demonstrated back-end funcationality for administering the polls / surveys

Created landing pages so that students don’t have to navigate through full Moodle installation to get to the exercise

Students must commit an answer, then discuss, then resubmit

There is a cost implication if students are using 3G, so free wifi needs to be provided by universities (crazy that some South African universities don’t have free wifi for students)

The digital age: changing roles of teachers in higher education in South Africa
Dr. RJ Odora

In 2009 South African had 4.5 million internet users

More assumptions about how today’s students are “different”. Quoting Prensky, 2001?

Self-administered questionnaire asking lecturers about their own perceptions of the use of technology as part of their teaching. Also included interviews with participants

Half of respondents felt that they were proficient in the “use of ICT to support learning”, but no comment made on what the “use of ICT” means

New roles for educators:

  • Facilitators: encourage active learning
  • Lifelong leaner: need to learn from students
  • Mentor: guide students

Teaching to disrupt
Prof Jonathan Jansen

Trying to introduce “civility” onto the campus, greeting students, trying to get a sense of who they actually are

Calling for greater integration of research and teaching

If students can pass your class without attending class, you’ve failed them as a teacher

It’s your responsibility to create spaces that are interesting and which engage students

What are the kinds of things that students need to know about, outside of their disciplines?

What are the big questions that students need to encounter?

Main point: Educational institutional failures are at the root of our social problems, because we don’t change the way that young people think

“Grace” is not something that happens automatically. What kind of thinking does it take to feel what it is to be human?

“The answer is NOT important”

Teach in ways that don’t remove emotion and the human spirit from the interaction

ALL first year students must do the UFS101 course

In service of academic identity
Amanda Hlengwa

Call for more social responsiveness, a “re-insertion” of public good into the curriculum

A deeper enquiry into the core activities of higher education could yield positive public benefits

Service learning / community engagement is one way to achieve this

However, “community engagement” is poorly defined and different universities engage with the concept in different ways

Service learning = practical component integrated with theory, there is a balance between “service” and “learning”

Service learning is part of a new social contract between university and community (What is new about service learning? How is this different to an apprenticeship model?)

Service learning (supposedly) bridges Bernstein’s horizontal (informal) and vertical (formal) discourses

Sometimes the knowledge structure of a programme works against implementing service learning i.e. it is not a “generic good”

Professional development of postgraduate supervisors: opportunities for renewal and change
Eli M Bitzer

Supervising someone through the postgraduate research process is the process by which scholarship gives birth to scholarship (Andreeson, 1999). I’m not sure I believe that scholarship is purely the domain of academics / postgraduate researchers

The traditional apprenticeship model may not be the most efficient approach for the purpose of increasing the production of doctoral graduates in South Africa (I dislike the concept of “production” in education). How can the apprenticeship model scale?

Should recognise and reward diversity in doctoral programmes

Changing needs and challenges regarding supervision:

  • Changing power relationships between supervisors and candidates
  • Increases in supervisor workload
  • Cultural difference
  • Increased awareness of students’ rights
  • Changing levels of student preparation and expectations
  • Increased monitoring of research quality and reporting
  • Increasing emphasis on doctoral completion and throughput rates

Variation in supervision approaches:

  • Apprenticeship: isolated, distance is a problem, “Atlas complex” i.e. supervisor takes responsibility for the work, power relationships
  • Group: sense of community, distributed power, interaction relates to quality, enculturation and identity
  • Team panels: experience mix, flexibility, delegation and acquiring supervisory skills, management challenges
  • Mixed approach: variation in supervisory roles and responsibilities


Can look at the specifics of the particular research project, and choose a supervision model based on that

Tools for planning supervision (Bitzer & Albertyn, 2011)

Supervisors conceptions of research (Brew, 2001):

  • Domino: Structural elements that link together in a linear fashion (process of synthesising so that things “fall into place”)
  • Layer: Data contains ideas linked with hidden meanings (process of discovering, uncovering, creating new meaning)
  • Trading: Products, end points, publications, networks are grounded (a “marketplace” where products takes place)
  • Journey: Personal existential issues and dilemmas as well as the career of the reseacher is emphasised (personal journey of discovery)

See also Supervisors’ conceptions of scholarship (Pearson & Brew, 2002), and Possible developmental outcomes for supervisors (Pearson & Brew, 2002)

Students and supervisors often have different conceptions of what “research” and “scholarship” mean

Guide students with questions rather than providing prescriptive advice

ethics workshop

Ethics of care colloquium with Joan Tronto

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a morning colloquium with Joan Tronto. Most of the morning was spent listening to current research in the area of the Ethics of Care, and we finished up with a lecture by Joan. Even though I teach Professional ethics, much of  what was presented today was much deeper than the level at which I usually engage with the work and even though I know enough to keep up, I didn’t have a whole lot to contribute.

One of the things I love most about being an academic is that I get the opportunity to listen to some really smart people talk about the world in ways that I don’t necessarily see. You get a taste of how infinitely interesting life is, even if you don’t always understand the details. Here are the notes I took today.

Rights discourses in relation to education of people with intellectual disability: towards an ethics of care that enables participation by Judy McKenzie

Disability viewed as a human rights issue

Based on a social model of disability → difference between bodily impairment and socially constructed disability i.e. negative of society that exclude people with disability / limit access (physical and information)

  • Autonomy
  • Choice
  • Social justice
  • Independence through assistance (if necessary)

BUT this model has failed:

  • Impairment seen as an objective deficit of the body only
  • Does not account for relationships of care
  • Problems of self-representation (“nothing about us without us”)
  • Erases difference between types of impairment / between multiple identities

Human rights is “universal” and “rational” but these conceptions are not necessarily available to intellectually disabled people

Discourse 1: Rights to full participation

Inclusion is a human right”

Interventions that highlight difference are seen as exclusive and avoided


Discourse 2: Rights to special services

Effective education must be tailored to the child’s individual needs

People with ID have a right to excellent education


Discourse 3: Rights to protection

Special education keeps children safe

Argues against inclusive / integrated education


Rights for people with ID are complex

  • Claim to participation and citizenship
  • Claim to special services
  • Claim to protection from harm

Above claims can be seen as competing


Ethics of care:

  • Places relationship and connection at the centre of everything
  • Need for care is universal

Avoid viewing independence as a goal of human development. Refigures the notion of “dependency” as being inter-dependent

Caring relationship” doesn’t have to be a one way relationship, both partners should be visible, care is reciprocal

Emotional attachment between interdependent people is often undervalued

Acknowledge the needs of the carer

Impairment is not fixed / static, it is a dynamic interaction with the environment

Moving forward:

  • Need to listen to dialogue / narratives / stories of people with ID
  • Acknowledge the experiences of parents
  • Explore the interaction between care, context and support


Understanding the difficulties of attending and responding to social injustices in the lives of cross-border migrants by Dorothee Holscher

Process of Othering”, putting people outside of our own contexts

What are the implications of cross-border migration into SA for social work’s normative commitment to social justice?

SA currently has the highest no. of people seeking refugee status in the word (1.6 – 2 million foreign national). Number might be reduced to try and combat xenophobia. Might be as high as 7 million

History of institutionalised criminalisation and exclusion of Others

Traditionally high levels of xenophobia “foreigners make perfect scapegoats for our own issues”

Culture of vigilantism

Us encountering Them (white / black, rich / poor, settled / homeless)

Found characteristics that bridged difference (e.g. different education levels, qualifications, income, colour…but we’re all Christian)

Universal ethical / moral principles are often inconsistent with the practicalities of “life as usual”. We regard everyone as equal, dignified and worthy of respect, but these features are often absent in daily life

Two problems in moral development:

  • Objectification (“otherness” is a condition for development”). “I will go and feed the hungry” objectifies the “other’ when they are sitting among you singing the same song
  • Assimilation (as we advance in our relationships, we mask “otherness” in order to convince ourselves the others are the same as us → those who manage to become the most like us, are raised above the others)

The notion of “privelidged irresponsibility”

The problems of tribalism, racism and of conceiving of the “other” with hatred is a response to the tremendous moral burden placed upon people by the claims that all share in “the rights of man” i.e. it is a way of escaping common moral responsibility

The racial contract by Mills

We have a 300 year head start on the previously disadvantaged in this country. We would rather lie to ourselves than tell the truth to others. Ignoring your privelidge is the only way to sustain it. “We’re / I’m not responsible for where I am / where you are.” Take responsibility for your privilidge. Unacknowledged guilt of white South Africans who might understand / be aware of their responsibilities, but who don’t make it explicit.


The incorporation of care and difference into social justice and social justice into care: towards a normative framework for human flourishing by Vivienne Bozalek

What constitutes good care?

How are difference and equality best dealt with?

Many approaches can be useful in exploring concepts of developing human flourishing

Social justice traditionally concernd with how social resources are distributed, but there is no accommodation of difference in this approach

The “rational, economic man” is disembodied, autonomous, independent and equal i.e. the normative ideal of a citizen

  • What are people able to be / do?
  • What capabilities can they exercise?
  • How are people disadvantaged / privileged?
  • How can they interact on an equal basis with others?

The human capabilities approach:

  • Addresses the general and particular
  • Takes into account peoples position
  • Looks at people as ends in themselves, not means to ends
  • People are sources of agency, rather than aggregations

Individual preference isn’t always a reliable indicator of need, as those who are disadvantaged easily become accostomed to their situations and adjust their expectations accordingly

Nussbaum’s list of capabilities – if anyone falls below the threshold of the items in the list, that society is unjust

Social belonging is about inclusion and exclusion – who belongs in a community and is therefore entitled to make justice claims?

We are all dependent at some point in our lives and all dependents need to be cared for i.e. dependency is an inevitable condition of life

The dark side of the refusal to recognise dependency or care work as valuable and our own vulnerability”

Care is dependent on a care giver and care receiver and there should be some amount of choice for both parties

It may be unthinkable for those who are socially misrecognised to have their needs prioritised over those who are seen as having greater value. Resources can be denied and diminished status in relation to others

Care: a species activity that includes everything we do to maintain, continue and repair our world so that we can live in it as well as possible. That world includes our bodies, our selves and our environment… (Tronto)

Political ethics of care is a framework to judge the adequacy of care:

  • Caring about
  • Caring for
  • Care-giving
  • Care-receiving

The above framework should lead to integrity of care

Participation is co-constructed meaning making and dialogue in relation to the lived human experience

Class determines access to resources


Relational responsibilities, partiality, and an ethics of care: thinking about global ethics by Joan Tronto

The UN MDG to reduce poverty will not be achieved by 2015. This is not a surprise

Wealthy countries should be held accountable for global poverty that they have helped bring about

Ordinary citizens don’t always understand their role in facilitating conditions of poverty

People tend to interpret moral beliefs and the facts in their own best interests. People want to describe themselves as moral, they believe that “they have done enough”

The disparity of what we know is right against what we actually do

Caring for anything is the first bud of responsibility from which something can be cultivated and developed

First level of care is the household, the second level is global

Responsiblity can be seen as a relational concept

Responsibility” as a word grew from the word “response” → there is already a relationship implied i.e. a response to something / someone

Moral obligation is inherent to all relationships

We are born into our responsibilities and our relationships shape them

Assigning, reflecting, accepting, deferring responsibility is related to power relationships

Relationships of care are often highly assymetrical

We are more likely to not meet our responsibilities, than to meet them

Can people be held responsible for things they don’t understand, or if they fail to recognise a moral harm? If you don’t know you’re responsible for something, are you still responsible for it?

When we make connections more visible, we deepen our responsibilities

Some thoughts of my own following Joan’s talk:

  • Do we care about our students? In what sense do we care about them? Do we care that they pass our course, or do we care that they fulfil their potential as human beings?
  • Do they care about us?
  • What are our responsibilities to each other?
  • What are our relationships with our students like?
  • How do those relationships and responsibilities impact on our T&L spaces?
twitter feed

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-07-04

  • U.N. Report Declares Internet Access a Human Right | Threat Level | #
  • #saahe2011 officially over. It was a wonderful conference made possible by the participation of health educators from all over the country #
  • Papert Being a revolutionary means seeing far enough ahead to know that there is going to be a fundamental change #
  • Papert The impact of paper in education has led to the exclusion of those who don’t think in certain ways #
  • @dkeats When people are “experts” in a domain they can be blinded to great ideas in other fields and so miss opportunities to drive change #
  • @dkeats Agreed. I’ve had to work really hard to convince people in my dept that I’m not the “computer guy”, I’m the “education guy” #
  • Innovation is about linking concepts from different fields to solve problems, its not about doing the same thing with more efficiency #
  • “How do you learn enough of the words to make sense of the discipline?” #saahe2011 #
  • Presentation by David Taylor on the use of adult learning theories #saahe2011 #
  • Jack Boulet speaking about the challenges and opportunities in simulation-based assessment #saahe2011 #
  • Mendeley Desktop 1.0 Development Preview Released #
  • Social media is inherently a system of peer evaluation and is changing the way scholars disseminate their research #
  • @dkeats Wonder if the problem has to do with the fact that much “ed tech” is designed by Comp Scientists, rather than Social Sci? #
  • @dkeats Also, people have the idea that LMSs have something to do with T&L, & then struggle when it can’t do what they need it to #
  • @dkeats To qualify, the problem isn’t resistance, its misunderstanding. The conversation always ends up being about technology #
  • There’s a huge difference between “learning” & “studying”, not in terms of the process but ito motivation & objectives #
  • @thesiswhisperer conf is for health educators, mostly clinicians, many of whom are amazing teachers but for whom tech is misunderstood #
  • In a workshop with David Taylor, looking at using adult learning theories #saahe2011 #
  • Blackboard is a course management system, it has little to do with learning. Use it for what its designed for #saahe2011 #
  • Trying to change perception that technology-mediated teaching & learning isn’t about technology. Not going well #saahe2011 #
  • Just gave my presentation on the use of social networks to facilitate clinical & ethical reasoning in practice contexts #saahe2011 #
  • Deborah Murdoch Eaton talks about the role of entrepreneurship to innovate in health education #saahe2011 #
  • Social accountability is relevant for all health professions ( #saahe2011 #
  • Charles Boelen talks about social accountability at #saahe2011 keynote, discusses its role in meeting society’s health needs #
  • First day of #saahe2011 over. Lots of interesting discussion and some good research being done in health science education #
  • Concept mapping workshop turned out OK. Got a CD with loads of useful information…a first for any workshop I’ve attended #saahe2011 #
  • Many people still miss the point when it comes to technology-mediated teaching & learning. Your notes on an LMS is not teaching or learning #
  • At a workshop on concept mapping, lots of content being delivered to me, not much practical yet #saahe2011 #
  • Noticed a trend of decreasing satisfaction from 1-4 year, even though overall scores were +. Implications for teaching? #saahe2011 #
  • Banjamin van Nugteren: do medical students’ perceptions of their educational environment predict academic performance? #saahe2011 #
  • Selective assignment as an applied education & research tool -> gain research exp, improve knowledge & groupwork #saahe2011 #
  • Reflective journaling: “as we write conscious thoughts, useful associations & new ideas begin to emerge” #saahe2011 #
  • Change paradigm from “just-in-case” learning to “just-in-time” learning #saahe2011 #
  • Benefits of EBP are enhanced when principles are modelled by clinicians #saahe2011 #
  • EBP less effective when taught as a discrete module. Integration with clinical practice shows improvements across all components #saahe2011 #
  • Students have difficulty conducting appraisals of online sources <- an enormous challenge when much content is accessed online #saahe2011 #
  • Looking around venue at #saahe2011 10 open laptops, 2 visible iPads (lying on desk, not being used), about 350 participants…disappointing #
  • EBP isn’t a recipe (or a religion), although that is a common misconception #saahe2011 #
  • Prof. Robin Watts discusses EBP and facilitating student learning. EBP isn’t synonymous with research #saahe2011 #
  • “A lecture without a story is like an operation without an anaesthetic” Athol Kent, #saahe2001 #
  • Kent drawing heavily on Freni et al, 2010, Health professionals for a new century, Lancet. #
  • #saahe2001 has begun. Prof. Athol Kent: the future of health science education #
  • Portfolios and Competency Really interesting comments section. Poorly implemented portfolios aren’t worth much #
  • @amcunningham I think that portfolios can demonstrate competence and be assessed but it needs a change in mindset to evaluate them #
  • @amcunningham will comment on the post when I’m off the road #
  • @amcunningham Can’t b objective as I haven’t used NHS eportfolio. Also, its hard 2 structure what should be personally meaningful experience #
  • @amcunningham Portfolios must include reflection, not just documentation. Reflection = relating past experience to future performance #
  • @amcunningham Your delusion question in the link: practitioners / students not shown how to develop a portfolio with objectives #
  • @amcunningham Also spoke a lot about competency-based education and strengths / limitations compared to apprentice-based model #
  • @amcunningham Very much. Just finished a 4 day workshop that included the use of portfolios as reflective tools in developing competence #
  • Final day of #safri 2011 finished. Busy with a few evaluations now. Spent some time developing the next phase of my project. Tired… #
  • Last day of #safri today, short session this morning, then leaving for #saahe2011 conference in Potchefstroom. It’s been an intense 5 days #
  • Papert: Calling yourself some1 who uses computers in education will be as ridiculous as calling yourself some1 who uses pencils in education #
  • Daily Papert 10 years ago, Papert warned against the “computers in education” specialist. How have we responded? #
  • Daily Papert Defining yourself as someone who uses computers in education, is to subordinate yourself #
  • YouTube – Augmented Reality Brain When this is common in health education, things are going to get crazy #
  • @rochellesa Everyone needs some downtime, especially at 10 at night when you’re out with your wife 🙂 Seems like a nice guy, very quiet #
  • @rochellesa The large policeman he’s with isn’t keen tho. Mr Nzimande has asked 2 not b disturbed. Understandable when u want to chill out #
  • I’m sitting in a hotel in Jo’burg & Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande walks in and sits down next to me. Any1 have any questions? #
twitter feed

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-04-12

  • @sbestbier enjoyed it too, been thinking about ways to break away from the linear presentation, looking forward to your thoughts #
  • @clivesimpkins Good idea, I’ll bring it up with him & ask about opening the platform to other students for editing #
  • Never really had much use for mindmapping, so when I played with #xmind before, it didn’t really impress me. Boy, have I changed my tune #
  • @clivesimpkins …but, I take your point and might bring it up with him later #
  • @clivesimpkins As it was initiated by the student & is a great eg of social responsibility, I thought I’d only encourage at this early stage #
  • The Youth issues of South Africa: Current issues that are tearing us apart! Beginnings of a blog by one of our students #
  • Hot for Teachers w/ Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green ~ Stephen’s Web ~ by Stephen Downes #
  • The 2009 Chronic Awards | Very funny, a good read on a Saturday morning #
  • The Chronic | Bringing you the Ed Tech Buzz #
  • South African scientist Uses Google Earth to Find Ancient Ancestor #
  • Can You Get an Education in Spite of School? #
  • Resistance is Futile. Interesting thoughts in the iPad in education, by David Warlick #
  • Thinking is hard… #
  • Busy capturing data for test-retest reliability analysis of my questionnaire…behind the scenes of being a research rock-star #
  • Personalizing Learning – The Important Role of Technology #
  • “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” Douglas Adams #