physiotherapy students

ALS ice bucket challenge at UWC Physiotherapy

Earlier today the second year physiotherapy students at UWC completed the ALS ice bucket challenge as a way to raise awareness and a small charitable donation for ALS research. As part of the process, they challenged the students from UCT and Stellenbosch to take up their buckets as well. Well done guys, we’re proud of you.

curriculum technology

Digital University Symposium at UWC

5691412616_02cbe62253_oEarlier today I was lucky enough to be able to attend a symposium on “the digital university” as part of a celebration of 20 years of the Cape Higher Education Consortium (CHEC). The event was hosted by the University of the Western Cape and included presentations from representatives at all four member institutions. Unfortunately I was not able to stay until the end. Here are the notes I took.

The digital university: A place for the communication and circulation of thought?

Prof. Laura Czerniewicz (UCT) (@czernie)

John Henry Newman (1824) – The idea of a university.

“Technology is not neutral”, it comes with affordances that shape practice

Technology influences the language of learning

  • Numerical representation: everything becomes data
  • Modularity: everything can be broken down
  • Automation: can feedback and teaching be automated?
  • Variability: multiple versions
  • Transcoding: computer logic influences how we understand and represent ourselves


  • Dynamic: how do you reference dynamic content. Read-write content
  • Communication becomes visible, it is a form of content
  • Sharing is frictionless and leads to multiplication of content, not division
  • Social media

How is scholarship changed with technology (from the perspective of a research paradigm)?

  • Conceptualisation of research is public and shareable (previously was private), enables communication and dialogue around the process, including other potential participants – being public has many advantages, including transparency
  • Research products available from early on e.g. research proposal becomes a resource for others
  • Massive changes in data sharing (previously data was not digital and so difficult to share), digital data can be linked to and reconfigured in different ways
  • Data can be created outside of academia (e.g. citizen science)
  • Findings (used to be shared in stable and authoritative formats e.g. journals) can now be shared in different ways and in different formats e.g. the concept of the “journal article” is changing
  • Authors can see engagement in knowledge output (e.g. sharing, comments, discussion, citations, saved -> altmetrics change the conception of “impact”
  • New kinds of outputs e.g audio files, photographic exhibitions, map and location data
  • New types of journals: those that actually show the research process, rather than simply describing the process
  • Engagement and translation: used to be expensive and static, one to many relationship, online sources limited to those registered. Rise of OERs, open textbooks, lectures, etc.

No longer clearly demarcated audiences, which enable new kinds of relationships in academia. Can take academics and scholarship outside the academy.

Digital does not necessarily mean Open. We are seeing the rise of Open Scholarship

Move from:

  • Products to services (tangible to intangible, control no longer with customer when purchased)
  • From ownership to access / license (buyer can not own, control or lend content)
  • Has profound impact on relationship to students

We need to think more carefully about rights that are affected in the move towards digital. You buy access to the platform but not the content, so the content is free (open access) but it’s presented in a platform that is not.

Are MOOCs open or closed?

  • They are (usually) free but that is not the same as open
  • You may be able to register for free, but you may have to purchase resources e.g. textbooks
  • Assessment and indicators of competence (i.e. a certificate of completion) may not be free
  • MOOCs not available under open licenses

Digital universities serve multiple interests. Be aware that the private sector has moved aggressively into the higher education space e.g. Figshare and Mendeley owned by private enterprise.

Digital universities must exploit the affordances of digital technology to enhance the university as a system of communication and thought, rather than simply as a way of being more efficient.

Enable the global, networked scholar

  • Reward and incentives for creating and sharing content
  • Support for online presence for academics, as part of the professional profile

Emerging technologies and changing teaching and learning practices

Prof. Vivienne Bozalek (UWC) & Daniela Gachago (CPUT)

The local contexts of “emerging technologies” are different, which changes how they are understood and used.

Challenges across higher education and digital universities:

  • Digital media literacy has been highlighted as an essential aspect of moving higher education forward.
  • Economic challenges

“Universities are preparing students for jobs that no longer exist”

Teachers need to be become facilitators, guides, etc. and students must begin work collaboratively, and to communicate in more and different ways.

Open University Innovating Pedagogy 2013 report

Discussion of a range of innovations in higher education and their potential impact on students’ learning, including MOOCs, badges, learning analytics, etc.

Asked the question: “In what ways are emerging technologies used in innovative pedagogical practices to transform teaching and learning across South African higher education institutions?

Used Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation curve / technology adoption cycle to analyse the results.

Saw significant difference when comparing SA educators to international educators e.g. with the adoption of Twitter, which is prevalent overseas but not yet very common here. “What is emerging in Paris may not yet be emerging in Parys

There is a lot of innovation happening in SA with “low-key” technologies. The biggest indicator of the use of technology was the passion of the individual. The biggest barrier to use was the institution they worked at.

People in SA who are using emerging technologies at a very high level are also those who are thinking most carefully about teaching and learning in authentic contexts (only a limited sample of 21 case studies, but the correlation was evident)


  • Context matters – an LMS may be “emerging” in certain contexts
  • Passionate educators use agency to overcome institutional barriers to still implement transformative changes in practice
  • We are learning differently, there is a focus on meaning learning in authentic contexts
  • Must give power and control to learners and community

Repositories: Benefits and challenges in changing scholarly communication

Ina Smith (Stellenbosch University)

Universities generate a diverse range of outputs (e.g. patents, articles, datasets) that are published elsewhere. They also invest a lot of money and time in faculty and need to determine their return on investment.

They need to keep track of the outputs of scholars, even when those scholars retire or move on. An institutional repository allows this to happen, even when individual’s profile pages are removed.

What is Open Access?

Two routes to open access:

  • Green: Institutional repositories offer “green access” (self-archiving) to scholarly research. Using DSpace open source software to manage the repository at US.
  • Gold: Access through open access journals. Author or institution may need to pay for publication but anyone can read for free. Usually peer-reviewed papers.

Repositories play a role in the dissemination and preservation aspects of the research life cycle.

What is the institution’s Open Access policy?

  • Increase access to outputs for a diverse audience
  • Increase visibility of outputs for academics
  • Create high quality metadata to enhance visibility
  • Preserve research output
  • Contribute to the body of literature
  • Able to maintain relationship between data and final output e.g. video and audio clips

Benefits of open access institutional repositories

  • Increase international exposure
  • Contribute to research success
  • Contribute to teaching and learning
  • Connect academics
  • Social responsibility by giving the public access to research
workshop writing

UWC writing workshop

Image from Wikipedia article on writing

Last week UWC hosted a writing workshop for academics. I always enjoy writing workshops because there’s always something I find in them that makes me think about my own process a little bit more. I wasn’t able to attend the full sessions every day, but managed to make a few notes while I was there.

Writing an Introduction

CARS model – Create A Research Space (John Swales). Using the Introduction as a way of creating a space, or a context that the research will take place in. Publishing as a way of creating a conversation in a field. I write the Introduction last, as a roadmap for the reader rather than as a roadmap for my writing. I can’t change the Method and Results, so I use those sections as anchors and go back to the Introduction to make sure that there’s alignment between the major sections.

Genre – ways that members of a community agree that certain discourses within that community will be presented

Writing as a process of learning about what you’re writing about. The process changes you and changes itself as it moves forward. Sometimes you don’t really know where you’re going or how you’re going to get there, but the act of writing creates can create a pathway from where you are to where you need to be.

Try to avoid:

  • Repetition
  • Unnecessary background and context
  • Exaggerating the importance of the work
  • Weak statements
  • Assumption that the reader knows where the research is located i.e. context is lacking
  • Not focusing on a clear and compelling research question i.e. it is too broad

Establish a niche by showing that previous research is not complete (can be negative evaluation of other studies, or positive justification for your own)

Using the Introduction as a way to establish authority and situating yourself and your own work within a context.

Knowing the steps in this model can be used to give feedback to other people’s writing. The tacit understanding of good writing can be made explicit. Is also a good way to actually read articles.

Keeping track of sources and versions as part of the Literature Review

Three uses of sources

  1. Making notes: Help formulate the question; Quick read to spark interest; Recording general ideas
  2. Reading for an argument: Help to make a logical argument; Look for similar arguments to what you want to make i.e. a logic checklist; Use the literature to make points that you want to address; Turn major points into questions that you want to answer
  3. Reading for evidence: Most common reason but not necessarily the most important; Reporting evidence completely and accurately, cite source carefully; Try to locate the original source; Don’t try to collect everything (we often feel a need to gather and read as many sources as possible. Rather try to be selective about a few good sources)

Preserve what you find. Record bibliographic information and notes accurately. When taking notes from literature, summarise the main points, highlight issues/data/methods that are important. Identify when you quote, when you paraphrase and when your notes trigger a new thought.

Share you resources with colleagues. Discuss what you’re reading with others, and discuss why what you’re reading is useful (or not). How does your reading shift or shape your topic or questions. Use sources to revise your question and topic (check with your supervisor).

Saving versions

  • Understand the concept of versioning
  • Use file sharing rather than email e.g. Dropbox
  • Rename files with dates, supervisor names
  • Keep an archive folder with older drafts (don’t delete anything)

Imagination and writing creatively

I sometimes feel like not writing because it’s like I have nothing to say. Sometimes you  who don’t write because the ideas aren’t there but it’s important to understand that ideas don’t emerge from nothing. Being embedded within conversations is one way for the seeds of ideas to be planted. Over time, and over many conversations, the seeds begin to grow and you feel like you have all these ideas that came from nowhere, overnight. As a writer, it’s important to keep track of all of these seeds and add to them over time. For example, keeping drafts of blog posts with links back to original sources, or keeping notes of books being read, or just keeping a short audio note reminding yourself that “this is an interesting idea”.

How do you deal with having too many ideas?

Think of note-taking and reading as a critical conversation with the author, rather than just reading and making notes. Being critical of the writer / writing style open us to further avenues for thinking about the topic.

What is the purpose of the review? This influences how you approach it.

  • Find published research
  • Read and skim: identify major points, important contributors
  • Map the literature: outline the major topic with sub-topics, highlight themes, narrow the boundaries of what to focus on
  • Read and critique smaller portions to identify exemplars
  • Write a focused review that introduces the perspective you want to use

Writing is not a linear process.

Think about beginning locally and then moving globally. Usually we write to narrow the focus e.g. by beginning globally and moving locally.

Data analysis and reporting

What are some of the challenges you experience with data analysis and reporting of results? I find it difficult to only use the data. There are experiences that exist outside of the data, tacit knowledge, that I find difficult to integrate with the “formal” data.

Avoid simply listing quotes under categories, try to create links between the major concepts.

Data analysis is shaped by the research methods you choose.

Depending on whether the data is quantitative or qualitative, the presentation will be different.

Ensure that the discussion of the data goes further than simply repeating the results. The role of the author is to interpret the data in the context of the literature, to go further and unpack what can be inferred. Acknowledge that analysis is an act of creation, informed by personal beliefs and biases. We can try to reduce bias but should be aware that how we interpret the data can’t really be separated from ourselves.

Discussion of findings, conclusion, submission and peer review

Go back to the beginning. Review the research question. Remember that the process is not linear.

In quantitative research, it makes sense to separate out the results and discussion of those results. This isn’t the case in qualitative research where the discussion of the results are usually best done together.

Make sure that themes are logical and that they build on each other. These themes should also speak to the key questions and ideas that were presented in the Introduction.

Unpack the quotes and narratives clearly. In qualitative research, avoid using too many quotes to illustrate the same point.

The presentation of the findings should follow a logical flow. Guide the reader through the piece so that they feel like they are moving through a process. Try to integrate the results into a narrative.

Consider using pseudonyms rather than “Participant 1” in order to avoid objectifying them. You could even ask participants to provide their own pseudonyms.

Conclusion: Here is what I did, what I found, what it means and some things that might happen next.

Finalising the document: check on content and alignment. Is the context and rationale clearly outlined? Are the questions or problems clearly stated? Is appropriate and comprehensive literature reviewed? Are you joining the conversation with familiarity? Have you outlined your methodology clearly and in appropriate detail? Have you summarised, concluded and drawn out key contributions of your work? Are your references in the correct format? Do you need to acknowledge anyone? Is the work formatted according to the journal requirements?


Note: This was originally published at Unteaching.

assessment conference curriculum education learning research teaching technology

UWC “Scholarship of teaching and learning” colloquium

I presented at the UWC scholarship of teaching and learning colloquium last week. Here is the presentation I gave, which is essentially a progress report of my PhD research project. I posted my own presentation a few days ago and here are the notes I took during the colloquium.

Can universities be caring? A meditation on equality (Prof. Joan Tronto)

How can a hierarchical organization (a university) create a democratic society?

“The ignorant schoolmaster” by Jacques Ranciere (Stanford University Press)

All humans share the same capacity for intelligence (even as they all have different wills to learn): sometimes students will learn nothing

What does it mean for teaching to begin from the assumption that all students are capable of learning at the highest level?

“The master always keeps a piece of learning – that is to say, a piece of the students ignorance- up his sleeve”. Must learning always be “one step behind” the stultifying master?

Nel Noddings – The challenge to care in schools: an alternative approach to education

Caring should be viewed as a species activity that we do to maintain, continue, and repair our “world” so that we may live in it as well as possible. That “world” includes our bodies, our selves and our environment.

5 phases of care:

  • Caring about (attentiveness)
  • Caring for (responsibility)
  • Care giving (competence)
  • Care receiving (responsiveness)
  • Caring with (trust and solidarity)

“Virtuous” circles in society, as opposed to “vicious” circles

Implications for analysis:

  • Defining needs
  • Allocating responsibilities
  • Exploring relationships of power

Care posits that what makes people equal is their vulnerability in needing care, and their ability to care for themselves and others

How would universities be different if we took this account of equality seriously? Get the presentation from Vivienne)

Neoliberalism: let the market solve the problem. This (falsely) assumes that people can make “correct” choices and are all equally able to make those choices

“Accountability” – Who is asking? To meet what needs?

Measures the value of education only in individual terms

To whom should the “educated” be responsible? Who is the “community”? What are the hidden meanings of community?

The degree is seen as a necessary “credential”, but is it enough? Is it encouraging shallow learning? Students want a degree, but we have to work hard to convince them that what they need is an education.

The Roman Republic was “enabled by its greatness to sustain the shortcomings of its generals and magistrates”…the same is true of institutions

“Institutionalism does not imagine a better future but one that will exactly replicate the present”

Are teachers and students on the same page, they have different ideas about what the university should be doing? Are they all pursuing the purposes?

Everyone agrees that the purpose of college education is to advance critical thinking, but studies have demonstrated that students graduating from American colleges have limited abilities to think critically.

“The disengagement compact”: “You leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone”

“Student-centered learning vs. faculty expectations about what students should know

Students think of universities as a set of games and rules that are set up to benefit the institution, and that they just need to play the game in order to get the degree

Is it enough to judge that a student has worked

If we hope for more democratic institutions, we must also hope for more democratic caring within universities

Institutional teaching and learning interventions at UWC: a capabilities perspective (Prof.Vivienne Bozalek and Dr. Arona Dyson)

The dangers of academic development being seen as “colonization”, with specialists coming in to “bring enlightenment” to academics

Trying to mainstream expertise in T&L

In order to lead a good life and flourish, persons need resources that best suit their particular context-specific circumstances

What are the valued functionings for higher educators see viviennes presentation for other details

“The course I was teaching was not just about learning physics. It’s about learning to think like a physicist and seeing the world as a physicist”. It’s not about decontextualised knowledge (see if this idea can fit into “Theory” article)

“Make things more visible and more conscious”

Analysing the professional development of teaching and learning at UWC from a political ethics of care perspective (Wendy McMillan, Delia Marshall, Melvyn November, Toni Sylvester, Andre Daniels & Vivienne Bozalek)

“When we slip into transmission mode, we are clearly not being attentive to, nor do we care about, the needs of students”

Responsibility goes beyond duty and formal obligation. We have a responsibility to students, yet too often we see it as a duty or an obligation.

Need to ask who is responsible and who should be responsible for meeting needs.

Trust is essential in faculty development, and is linked to hope

In order to be attentive to the needs of others, we must be attentive to our own needs

Be sensitive to the context

It’s important to recognize the fact that time is needed to really engage with the concept of caring in teaching and learning

Universities can be seen as cold and uncaring places, so there is a space for an Ethic of care approach

The integration of student development and academic learning: A case study (Birgit Schreiber)

The student is seen as a homogenous, passive recipient, rather than a heterogeneous, active participant

Traditional programmes are rigid and unyielding

Remediation and medical-deficit model has prevailed

Critique of “working in the gap”:

  • Underpreparedness is remedied by short-term interventions
  • Students can be “upskilled”
  • Neglect of epistemological challenges
  • Preserve the status quo

“cognitive and affective dimensions are related parts of one process”

Meaning making is related to self-authorship; the self as a cohesive construct (Astin, 1977)

Learning is a broad process across cognitive, affective and social domains I.e. it is synergistic and complex

Stress and Motivation are significant predictors of academic performance

Think differently about failing…look at it as a way of identifying what you need to do differently in order to pass

Individuals in small groups saw other members as resources, groups were perceived as supportive and normalizing

The introduction of a compulsory module as an intervention to facilitate success for science students at UWC (Judith Jürgens)

First year students display (CHED, Ian Scott):

  • Weak literacy skills
  • Poor work ethic
  • Lack of cultural and epistemological capital of “first-degree-in-the-family” students
  • No understanding of holistic learning
  • Limited study skills, other than memorization
  • Emotional immaturity
  • Lack of inspiration to become an intellectual

Development of personal responsibility for learning, civic responsibility and environmental awareness as scientists

Facilitators of learning, rather than tutors of content

Formative assessment of competencies based on student-chosen evidence and justification in portfolios

Conscious development of familiarity with the language of potential attributes and skills

Careful alignment between streams and cross referencing to avoid fragmented learning

Facilitators encourage self-determination while modeling scientific writing, thinking and behavior

Think of students as less experienced colleagues

Are students responsibilities overt and explicit? Do they understand that they will be accountable to those responsibilities?

Assignments alternate between individual performance and collaborative projects

Assessments are “open book”

Module is resource intensive (people, logistics / venues, infrastructure)

Using appreciative inquiry to develop a faculty development programme around integrating research into teaching: defining the process (Jose Frantz, Anthea Rhoda & Jo-Celene De Jongh)

To what extent are we encouraging academics to become scholars?

Challenge of integrating research, teaching and learning, and community engagement

Appreciative inquiry:

  • Define
  • Discover
  • Dream
  • Design
  • Drive

Faculty development in this context was about changing the mindset of academics

Attrition was a problem, as people dropped out at each stage of the process

Finding time to mentor the process is a challenge

How do you make sure that the change is sustained?

Authentic learning at UWC: Using emerging technologies to promote innovation in teaching and learning (Kathy Watters & Vivienne Bozalek)

“Learners need to be engaged in an inventive and realistic task that provides opportunities for complex, collaborative activities” – Herrington

Elements of authentic learning:

  • Authentic context (avoid oversimplifying the context; preserve the complexity of the environment; immersive 3D environment) -> “flow”
  • Access to expert performances and modeling of processes
  • Make use of multiple perspectives
  • Collaborative construction of knowledge (rewards based on performance of the group; success cannot be achieved other than through working collaboratively)
  • Opportunity for students to articulate their understanding
  • Coaching and scaffolding (moving through the ZPD with guidance from MKO)
  • Assessment must also be authentic

“Pedagogy of discomfort”

Authentic activities should be ill-defined

“Inert learning” remains inert, which is why learning needs to be active

Enhancing student learning in a first year accounting module at UWC via the use of ‘clicking’ (Ronald Arendse & Judith Jürgens)

Risk for lecturers – fear of the unknown and lack of expertise, also not being in control of the technology (if the lecturer is uncomfortable, students may respond to that)

When there is non-participation in class, lecturers assume lack of ability. Clickers increase participation in class by removing the usual barriers (provide anonymity, therefore safety). Student: “Putting up your hand in class is kind of dangerous, both socially and academically”


  • Technical issues
  • Familiarity takes time
  • Writing effective multiple choice questions is time consuming
  • Bases for student errors are not always obvious
  • Class wide discussion is difficult to manage

Moving away from clickers (expensive to initially set up), MXit currently working with university to develop platform for online testing

twitter feed

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-12-05

  • @dgachago17 it was a wonderful week, i learned so much from everyone I spoke to, must chat about collab project #
  • @LenSteenkamp Staying at the Beach Hotel, SAA paying for everything, so thats not too bad. Was just a disappointing end #
  • Flight home canceled, spending another night in PE. A bit pissed off with #SAA for stuffing up what had been a good week at #heltasa11 #
  • #pencilchat on Twitter has been a lot of fun. Thank you everyone for making the point in a way that I can only describe as delightful 🙂 #
  • RT @timbuckteeth What if the students break them? They won’t be able to write! #pencilchat #
  • RT @philipgreen #pencilchat Give me a pencil and a place to stand, and I could move the world #
  • RT @timbuckteeth Pencils will dumb down education. Keep the oral traditions alive! #pencilchat #
  • #pencilchat Just bought an accessory to look flash in meetings – a pencil grip – boss is asking where I got it #
  • RT @sangsterphil: Students at our school spend more time customising their pencils than writing with them #pencilchat #
  • RT @GuyJudge: @timbuckteeth Pencils criticized in plagiarism study. They make it too easy to copy. #pencilchat #
  • RT @GuyJudge: Don’t press down too hard when you use a pencil as you may leave an imprint that other people can read #pencilchat #
  • RT @johnmayo: I sure hope someone is going to use all these #pencilchat tweets in a presentation at some stage What about copyright? All CC? #
  • RT @GrahamBM: We have found that 1:3 pencil sharing has improved learner collaboration #pencilchat #
  • @timbuckteeth Poets among early pencil adopters. Now even builders use them. #pencilchat #
  • RT @HeidiSiwak: Pencils: anywhere, anyone, anytime on anything writing! The future is now! #pencilchat #
  • RT @briankotts: There is no evidence that the pencil makes learning faster, easier or better. #pencilchat #
  • RT @aangeli: RT @dughall: 2B or not 2B? That is the question. #pencilchat #
  • RT @noblerod: #pencilchat privacy concerns arise when students discovered using pencils to record friend’s antics during lunch #
  • @sandynay sorry, #
  • RT @heidisiwak: RT @mgraffin: Check out the #pencilchat trend map 🙂… #
  • RT @wholeboxndice: RT @delta_dc: Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Give him a pencil and he can draw a fish. #pencilchat #
  • #pencilchat is what Twitter was invented for #
  • RT @johntspencer: Violent games do not lead to violent people. I played hang man numerous times and I’ve never hung anyone. #pencilchat #
  • RT @edutechhannah: I’ve doubled my productivity by sharpening both ends #pencilchat #
  • RT @ekendriss: RT @pammoran: Can pencil immigrants teach pencil natives? #pencilchat #
  • RT @ekendriss: RT @bhsprincipal: Pencils are always broken. They never work when I need them. #pencilchat #
  • RT @raventech: Anyone know if the added weight of an external eraser slows down todays graphite pencils? Concerned re. mobility #pencilchat #
  • RT @ronhoutman: @timbuckteeth If you didn’t grow up with pencils, then you will find them too hard to learn how to use. #pencilchat #
  • RT @webenglishteach: If we start using pencils, when will the kids learn keyboarding or the value of different fonts? #pencilchat #
  • RT @erinneo: refuse to use pencils in my classroom until manufacturers figure out a way 2 limit what [they] can write with them #pencilchat #
  • RT @vghathaway: RT @timstirrup: have you seen the things kids write about each other using pencils? this just HAS to stop! #pencilchat #
  • RT @heidisiwak: My school is adopting pencils but going to keep them in 1 room, each class allowed 40 minutes a week to use them #pencilchat #
  • RT @edutechhannah: Just spotted a student ‘doodling’ with one in class. Surely this will just become another distraction? #pencilchat #
  • RT @rebeccaradics: RT @Justgosailing: We are preparing students for pencils that have not yet been made. #shifthappens #pencilchat #
  • RT @tmartinowen: Time to drop pencils out of helicopters on all villages -one pencil per child #pencilchat #
  • RT @timbuckteeth: I’m resisting pencils at present. If I adopt them, I’ll have to change the way I teach. #pencilchat #
  • RT @heidisiwak: RT @markuos: #pencilchat Apparently you can use one ‘pencil dock’ at the front of the class to keep 30 pencils updated #
  • RT @dgree132: #pencilchat I’m worried about my son, he sits writing or drawing by himself for long periods of time. I think he’s addicted. #
  • RT @johnmayo: Data recovery for erased data with a pencil is very difficult #pencildata #
  • Apple marketing appeals to emotion, not features. That’s why everyone loves them. You need to switch off your heart to be immune #heltasa11 #
  • I hate it when marketers (esp. from #Apple push something without context i.e. iPad = good for education with no validation #heltasa11 #
  • @ronaldarendse To be fair, it’s only 1 person from #UCT who isn’t keen on sharing. I’m sure it’s not an institutional policy to censor 🙂 #
  • This “panel discussion” is actually a series of short presentations by 5 people. There’s no discussion happening? #heltasa11 #
  • @ronaldarendse Isn’t the point of coming to a conference to share practices so that we can all learn? What’s going on at #UCT #heltasa11 #
  • @ronaldarendse @LenSteenkamp So, attendance = success. Students say they attend. Therefore intervention = success? Mmm, seems shaky to me 🙂 #
  • @ronaldarendse What are you talking about, I’m in a great mood #
  • @ronaldarendse Maybe the student attendance figures were a minor component of the study. Was attendance relevant for the conclusions drawn? #
  • @ronaldarendse Sorry, let me help you…sarcasm = “The use of irony to mock or convey contempt” #
  • So far the panel discussion at #heltasa11 has been about (insecure) researchers trying to justify what they do. Am I missing something? #
  • @ronaldarendse There’s nothing wrong with basing conclusions on self-report. Students always tell me they “learn a lot” #heltasa11 #
  • @ronaldarendse Are you saying that the UCT presenter isn’t sharing? Sounds about right 🙂 #heltasa11 #
  • @ronaldarendse Always sets off alarm bells when someone tells me that I’m about to be amazed with something I’ve never heard before #
  • @ronaldarendse Never mind, it was meant for the moment, which you clearly missed 🙂 #
  • @ronaldarendse How can you not like this guy? #
  • Check out interesting way for students to present information in an online poster. Uses flash tho & no collaboration #
  • This looks like a useful tool for student collections of content around a topic? #
  • RT @alexisangelus: @LenSteenkamp Congratulations on ur 2011 Award in National Excellence in Teaching & Learning!!! Bravo! Bravo! #HELTASA11 #
  • RT @ronaldarendse: Prof Delia Marshall of the Faculty of Science wins the teaching and learning excellence award! #HELTASA11 #ProudlyUdubs #
  • RT @jackiesredpath: Big shout out to @LenSteenkamp! Congrats on winning the award! From Dine and the NWU ladies #HELTASA11 #
  • Daily Papert: should encourage a deeper understanding of technology, beyond searching for information and communication #
  • Congratulations to Prof Delia Marshal from #UWC on her T&L award at #heltasa11 #
  • @carinavr No problem, glad to know that someone else finds them a little bit useful #
  • @dgachago17 Cool, will stick with the Laurillard book for now, otherwise I’ll just end up with 20 that I never read #
  • @dgachago17 Any suggestions? Too much to browse, need to have specific things to look for #
  • @dgachago17 Just got the book you mentioned, thanks for pointing it out. Will have a look at it later #
  • Excellent presentation by @dgachago17 on the disruptive nature of emerging technologies #heltasa11 #
  • @LenSteenkamp not at all, it’s just semantics 🙂 #
  • @LenSteenkamp good point, but then you’re not replacing an LMS with G+, you’re talking about using Google as a platform #
  • @dgachago17 They’re not equivalent & therefore 1 can’t replace the other. U can’t use G+ for admin, & an LMS has little to do with learning #
  • @ronaldarendse Not saying that’s my opinion, but why would they say anything different? We need to decide if it’s a viable / useful tool #
  • @LenSteenkamp I think they have different functions. G+ is social / communication. LMS is about management #heltasa11 #
  • @lensteenkamp I use G+, never liked FB much. We use a WordPress/Buddypress social network for coursework, I don’t intrude on students’ SN #
  • @dgachago17 Google will say: “Use Google+ because it will fulfill all of your educational needs and it is a magical experience” 🙂 #
  • @dgachago17 Why wait for Google? What are we doing to promote it’s use? Are we even sure it has a use? #heltasa11 #
  • #heltasa11 day 2 is proving to be intellectually stimulating. Loving the presentations so far #
  • Naude: challenge students to imagine a future that doesn’t exist, then help them develop knowledge & skills to create it #heltasa11 #
  • 1st speaker of the day says using technology in teaching isn’t as good as a good lecturer. Clearly he’s missing the point #heltasa11 #
  • @RonaldArendse I think it is viable #
  • @vivboz some people think he’s a big name, judging from comments I’ve heard. Not my opinion #
  • @RonaldArendse sorry, typing mistake, just pointing out Jansens ignorance…or was it a lie 🙂 #
  • If students can pass without attending class, you have failed as a teacher. Best point of #heltasa11 so far #
  • @RonaldArendse Brian O’ Connell is a trained teacher. He’s not a VC though 🙂 #
  • @dgachago17 a bit caught up in his own story though #
  • @dgachago17 @RonaldArendse battery going to die soon, will see you around #
  • @dgachago17 first keynote presenter was a “big name” #heltasa11 #
  • @RonaldArendse Maybe because the wifi doesn’t work? Or maybe because it’s not interesting? #heltasa11 #
  • @RonaldArendse Try to find one take away message from each presentation. Agree that this could be a challenge 🙁 #
  • Thought we’d moved the conversation away from Prensky’s millenials? Why are we still talking about about how they’re “different”? #heltasa11 #
  • Interactive workshop on web-based clickers using cellphones with. Low cost approach for resource constrained environments #heltasa11 #
  • Everyone at #heltasa11 #heltasa – lets choose 1 hashtag for consistency. I vote for #heltasa11 Thoughts? #
  • I prefer “relationships” rather than “networks” #heltasa11 #
  • After Gutenberg learning was about “place”. After the 60’s it was about “technology”. Now it should be about “networks” #heltasa11 #
  • Disappointing keynote at #heltasa11 Too much “management”, not enough “learning” involved 🙁 #
  • Here’s a post on some of my thoughts on my PhD process. I’m not sure how (or even if I can) push posts from my blog… #
  • I’m at a meeting for a research project that is looking at the use of “emerging technologies” in higher education.… #
  • @mah_asf40 no problem, maybe next year. Come spend some time in cape town 🙂 #
  • @mah_asf40 it’s a conference for a group of south african educators to discuss approaches to teaching & learning in higher education #
  • @mah_asf40 it’s a higher education conference in Port Elizabeth #
  • Theoretical frameworks are just different ways of looking at the world. You can use different frameworks to look at… #
  • #heltasa11 begins tomorrow, anyone want to meet up? #

Research development workshop: research methods

This section included a general discussion on methods, then provided a brief overview of the 2 main types.

Make sure to choose a design that’s appropriate for your project

Research tends to fall broadly into one approach or the other, and is often not entirely quantitative or qualitative

Make sure to avoid using the language of one approach when you are using the other. Example: talking about “proving” something when using a qualitative approach isn’t appropriate

Continuum from QuantitativeQualitative

  • Predetermined ↔ Unfolding
  • Tight design ↔ Emerging
  • Architectural / blueprint ↔ Open ended

Planning your research design

  • Often begins with an identified gap in the literature → initial research question
  • What do you want to find out?
  • What is the purpose of your study?
  • What are the questions you want to address?
  • What methods can you use to answer these questions (data collection / analysis)?

Identify the problem and then choose a method, rather than deciding from the outset what type of research you want to do

Overview of quantitative research: what types of questions can quantitative research answer?

  • Give an overview of information with regard to a population
  • Measuring the extent of something using numerical values
  • Identify trends over time
  • Measure attitudes / opinions of large groups e.g. political surveys
  • There is a tightly designed structure that comes before implementing the research to ensure that one is measuring what one intends to measure
  • There are clear variables
  • You would define concepts
  • Formulate measures or indicators for assessing outcomes

Often makes a claim of a causal relationship between 2 variables that requires:

  • Control for interfering variables
  • Sample and control groups
  • Period of time in which to run the intervention
  • Pre- and post-test
  • What statistical tests can you run to analyse data
  • What results would be significant
  • What can one claim based on the sample size
  • Can your results be generalised to a larger population?

Overview of qualitative research: what types of questions can qualitative research answer?

  • Aim to gain more understanding of people, processes, organisations and relationships
  • Naturalistic approach, research something within a natural context in it’s full complexity i.e. not trying to control for interfering variables
  • Aims for depth, rather than breadth → limits how many cases one can study i.e. not a large population
  • Sceptical about the concept of objectivity i.e. acknowledges that the researcher comes to the project with a background and their own values and doesn’t try to completely eliminate bias
  • Don’t claim that findings are generalisable
  • Tends to have a more flexible design, open-ended and iterative process
  • Data analysis → codes for analysis and themes are derived from the data
  • May apply initial theory to data analysis (deductive research)
  • May use grounded theory → themes emerge from the data and influences the conceptual framework (inductive research)
  • Often there is a combination of deductive and inductive research

UWC writing for publication retreat – day 3

Today is the last day of our writing retreat. We had a short session this morning briefly going over the Method, Results, Discussion and Conclusion, before going back to our rooms to spend the last few hours writing. Coming from a more quantitative background, I’m having some difficulty writing up my qualitative responses, so looking forward to feedback (via Google Docs) from my group members.

Here are my notes from this morning.

Data interpretation and alignment

  • Go back to the journal review and decide if this journal accepts your type of paper
  • What type of data is typically presented in that journal?


  • Recognise that there’s a wide range of methods
  • Make sure your methods are aligned with the literature review
  • Explain why that method was used
  • Summarise → “this is what other people have said about this method”
  • “This is what I did” → descriptive account

Data presentation

  • Use only data that is aligned with your introduction and literature review → aim for congruency
  • Let the data speak for itself
    • It should be comprehensible on it’s own
    • It should indicate a general trend
    • Save extended interpretation for the Discussion
  • Avoid data density and overkill
    • Select appropriate data; emblematic data
    • Avoid repetition and tedious prose explaining what is already evident
  • Group data into themes or patterns
  • Think about what sort or data you have e.g. interviews, survey results, observations, and how best to present that. Present data in user friendly ways e.g. graphs and other visuals

What will you do with your data to make sure that you “surface” the message you want to convey?

How do you convince your readers that you’ve designed a rigorous study?

…we collect minds and then we can…” (Student response in an interview about groupwork, a direct translation from another language)

Qualitative studies

  • What can we do to reduce the power differential between students and lecturers, and what strategies did you put in place e.g. focus groups?
  • Be transparent about the process i.e. make issues visible so that the reader can be aware of them
  • How do you get around the problem of interpretation? What is real and what is the researcher creating connections where none exist?


Make a compelling argument. What this means and why it’s important

  • Validate and defend your findings
  • comparisons and interpretations
  • Find your niche


“This is what I did, what I found, and some things I might do next”

  • Summary and argument
  • Possible avenues for future research

Return to rewrite the Abstract and Introduction to ensure alignment

How will I align my analysis of the data to the rest of the paper?

What do you think are the best ways of presenting your data?


UWC writing for publication retreat: day 2

Today has focused on the practical aspect of publication i.e. actually writing, so we didn’t have as many presentations. We began by reviewing some of what was discussed yesterday and adding a few reflections and comments from participants.

Yesterday, one of the presenters suggested the CARS (link downloads PDF) model for structuring an Introduction. Today, someone suggested that that particular model is based mainly on English language publications from the UK,USA and Australia. Some have suggested the OARO model as an alternative, based on a synthesis of publications from other countries:

Open A Research Option (OARO) model

  • Attract a readership
  • Establish credibility
    • Share background knowledge (own research / anecdotal experiences)
    • Justify the need for the research (answering the “why” question)
    • Present interesting thoughts (who decides what’s “interesting”?)
    • Introduce the general goal
  • Offer a line of enquiry (open questions and explore)
  • Introduce the topic

Remember that it’s difficult to build a model that is based on cross-disciplinary publications.

A review of the writing process

“An increasing number of references in publications may point to a form of academic insecurity”

How well are you telling your own story?

Instead of using pre-defined headings e.g. Discussion, try to highlight the major finding / point and use that for the heading instead

Each phrase should be used to advance your argument. Make sure that the pieces fit together to create a coherent whole.

Writing about the topic begins broadly (macro view) and then narrows to get to the crux of the article (micro view), then expands again to place the results into a broader context e.g. hourglass shape

Review of the literature (because it’s a process, not a thing)

Entering occupied territory” → can be intimidating

Be wary of absolute statements about the review i.e. what it should or shouldn’t do or be

Working with literatures:

  • Locate the work in a field
  • Create a mandate for the research
  • Informs the methods and theorisation
  • Specify the contribution

Learning to speak with authority, adopting a critical yet generous stance to the scholarship of the field, and establishing authority to speak, is an enormous challenge (Kamler & Thomson, 2006)

Find patterns in the literature


  • Chronological
  • Geographical
  • Definitions
  • Genre
  • Concepts
  • Methods
  • General → specific
  • Policy / practice

Try to avoid “Smith et al (2000) have suggested that…”, “They emphasise the following…” Rather, try to put your take on their research first, and then credit the other researchers

Trying to convince the reader that there’s an organising mind at work (Swales, 2004)

Literature review isn’t about constructing a thing, it’s a process that’s embedded throughout the article

twitter feed

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-15

  • @ryantracey Agreed. The process, rather than the certificate, should be emphasised #
  • RT @wesleylynch: Video comparing iphone and nexus – Can’t imagine how the iPhone will survive, Android is already better #
  • RT @psychemedia: Are Higher Degrees a waste of time for most people? IT professionals are hardly “most people” #
  • University finds free online classes don’t hurt enrollment #
  • Mobile Learning Principles – interesting, but unrealistic in a developing country. “Mobile” does not = smartphone #
  • Presenting while people are twittering, an increasingly common backchannel. Be aware of it and use it if possible #
  • Presentation Zen: The “Lessig Method” of presentation. Great resource on improving your presentation skills #
  • About “P”! « Plearn Blog. This post raises some interesting questions about the challenges of using PLEs #
  • Crazy Goats. I don’t usually share this sort of thing, but this pretty amazing #
  • Learning technologies in engineering education. For anyone interested in integrating “distance” with “practical” #
  • Think ‘Network Structure’ not ‘Networking’. I always thought “networking” was too haphazard to bother with #
  • Clifton beach earlier today. I think I like it here #
  • @davidworth Hi David, thanks for the blog plug #
  • @sharingnicely: go around institutional pushback when policy is unfriendly to OER #OCW #
  • @dkeats: free content enables students to use scarce financial resources to acquire tech instead, which grants access to vastly more content #
  • Butcher: the curricular framework must drive development of OER – content comes after learning #OCW #
  • Neil Butcher from OERAfrica: OER can’t work without institutional support #OCW #
  • Why is copyright in OER even an issue? Copyright applies equally to OER and non-OER #OCW #
  • If you think of a degree as a learning experience, rather than a certificate, formal accreditation is less important. See P2PU #OCW #
  • Is there a difference between OER and #OCW I’m wary of the emphasis on content as a means of changing teaching practice #
  • @dkeats Improvement in quality is always important, isn’t it? No-one is aiming for mediocrity #
  • OCW workshop at UWC today, OCW board present incl. MIT OCW, should be a good day, quite proud its happening here #
  • RT @cristinacost: RT @gconole: Sarah Knight on JISC elearning prog including excellent eff. practice pubs #
  • RT @c4lpt: MicroECoP – Uisng microblogging to enhance communication within Communities of Practice #microecop #
  • Making the Pop Quiz More Positive. I like the change of mindset that the post suggests, pop quizzes aren’t punishment #
  • @cristinacost Looks good, you’re further along with your project than I am with mine, I might have to come to you for advice 🙂 #
  • Problem-Based Learning: A Quick Review « Teaching Professor. Nice, short summary of why PBL is a Good Thing #
  • @cristinacost What’s your interest in Buddypress? I recently set up WPMU/BP platform for physio dept social network to explore CoP #
  • Microblogging to enhance communication within communities of practice #microecop #
  • There’s a war goin’ on here, donchaknow? Retro copyright posters at EdTechPost #
  • Post by Howard Rheingold on crap detection on the internet should be required reading for everyone online #
  • Scroll down for the 5 C’s of Engagement on Postrank’s “What it is” page. Is it useful for building social presence? #
  • Great post on 3 strategies to manage information: Aggregate, Filter and Connect. The last one is hard (for me anyway) #
  • Great post on the importance of not only filtering information, but using it meaningfully #
  • Siemens’ post on moving from educational reform within the system, to a “no boundaries” approach #
  • Web 3.0 and Its Relevance for Instruction – interesting article on how a next generation web could be used in education #
  • Freedom helps kids learn more « Education Soon #

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