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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? #
conference education research technology

HELTASA conference, 2011 – day 3

Today was the last day of the HELTASA 2011 conference. It was a challenging and stimulating exchange of ideas that I really enjoyed. Thank you to everyone who was there and who I learned from.


Crossing (some) traditional borders
Prof Delia Marshall

There needs to be wider social, historical, ethical and environmental dimensions of science

Students need to graduate not only with domain expertise but with broader attributes that contribute towards the public good

Start with “modern” physics, with an emphasis on new ideas and concepts, rather than an equations

Resist scientism: science as “a” way of knowing about the world, not the only way

Draw in wider cultural dimensions and interests e.g. students who play instruments come in when there is a discussion on vibration / sound, etc.

“Border crossing” inot the sub-culture of science

Learning as a process of identity formation through accessing a disciplinary discourse

Looking at interactive engagement in classroom communities e.g. SCALE-UP classrooms using “lec-torials” → short lecturer inputs, working in groups, extensive and immediate feedback, learning happens in class, you can’t pass by borrowing notes

University needs to be a place for the “difficult dialogues”

Conceptualise academic literacy, not as skills, but as the social practices of discipline communities

If learning is social, then commitment from the whole department is vital. You can’t have a marginalised programme within the department


Len Steenkamp
Students appreciate honesty from teachers, especially when we say “I don’t know, let’s find out together”

Teachers need to be compassionate, every student has their own story
Teachers need to be humble
Teachers need to change, but not for it’s own sake, must be driven by a need

Engage in research because you want answers, not because you have to

Be generous with your time

21st century teaching tales
Liezel Nel

Electronic worksheets before attending class, must answer questions to familiarise students with content, class is used for discussion, not covering content. Worksheets also used for self-assessment (what tools?)

Students can practice using the tools in a non-assessed environment, tools introduced gradually

Uses reflective activities mid-semester and end-of-semester, much more useful than official course evaluations at end of year

Lecture recordings in audio and video, posted afterwards, useful for students with language difficulties

Students submit digital assignments, feedback in same format

Uses SMS for regular communication with students, establish a sense of caring and trust (community) “I felt a little bit special”

Glogs: online, interactive posters, students add interactive elements to their posters (glogster

Scholarship not just about publications


Digital storytelling and reflection in higher education: a case of pre-service student teachers and a University of Technology
Eunice Ivala, Daniela Gachago, Janet Condy, Agnes Chigona

There is a focus on passing exams, rather than on the learning process
No research on digital storytelling in higher education in South Africa, as well as limited evidence that reflective opportunities are effective

Digital story: short, 5 minute first person video-narrative, created by combining voice, still and moving images, and music or other audio

Project took place over 8 weeks, with the intention of reflecting-on-action on 7 roles of a teacher, a seed story was created to demonstrate to students, had to be 500 words

Students could choose a paper-based portfolio, or to use the digital story (half chose either one → students made their own choices)

Students had to be shown how to write their stories, learn how to find relevant images or music. Some students asked colleagues to sing for them and recorded their own music, and also took their own pictures. Also needed training in digital manipulation tools.

Used Strampel and Oliver (2007) to determine levels of reflection and stages of cognitive processing

Structuraction theory (Giddens, 1984): material resources influence social practices through their incorporation

“I’ve always known what the 7 roles were but I didn’t know what they meant and what they meant to me, but now, after incorporating it into my story, I kind of understand what they are about” (paraphrased quote from student)

The Structure of digital storytelling enabled the Agents (students), whereas before students were not enabled

“Paper-based reflections lose the personality along the way. You lose the effect of you wating to show somebody what this reflection really means. In a digital story you get the tone and atmosphere across with your own voice”

Students reflected at descriptive, dialogic and critical levels (not all students though, some only at a descriptive level)

“We can use these stories for our future employers…this is who I am, this is what I am about”

Question: why did some students not reflect at the higher cognitive levels?

Focus should be on the content of the story, not the technology because technology does nothing, except as implicated in the actions of human beings (Giddens and Pierson, 1982:82)


Improving teaching and learning in higher education through practitioner self-enquiry action research (action research for professional development)
Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, Mark Schofield, Lesley Wood, Omar Esau, Joan Conolly (panel discussion)

An approach to action research in which the object of the study is the self

Trust is important for encouraging “nervous and novice” researchers (“The speed of trust” – Stephen Covey)

Integrity and honesty builds trust

Courage and generosity (“Courage to teach” – Palmer Parker)
See also, Jack Whitehead (

Recognise the unique and situated nature of the novice researcher

Learning through direct experience is more valuable than being told about something

Emphasis on “critical friendship” as part of validation

Be more understanding of the “lived experiences” of others

“People get smarter by having conversations with people who are smart”

Action research is a paradigm i.e. more than a research method

In South Africa we need critical, emancipatory paradigms that promote social change and uphold the values of the constitution

There is a lack of participatory, learner-centred pedagogies

Action research gives rise to dynamic, personal and life changing theories that operationalise the values of inclusion, people-centredness, democracy, social justice, compassion, respect. It is critical, evaluative, participatory and collaborative. It holds people to be accountable, self-evaluative and focuses on lifelong learning.

It is difficult to validate action research i.e. it must be trustworthy

Action research has the potential to minimise the hard borders between curriculum design and its delivery. The academic operates simultaneously as a researcher, designer, practitioner, and evaluator, while following an iterative and systematic process that leads to continual improvement in the curriculum, as well as teaching and learning practices.

Finding a balance between support and challenge

conference education learning research technology

HELTASA conference, 2011 – day 2


Explaining, naming and crossing border in Southern African higher education
Prof Piet Naude

This was one of the most challenging presentations I’ve ever listened to. I didn’t agree with a lot of what Prof Naude said, but he made me question my own beliefs and biases.

Ontology: language is the house of reality (language shapes reality)
In political discourse, language precedes actual violent acts. In Rwanda, people called each other “cockroaches”, and it’s much easier to kill a cockroach than to kill a human being.

Crossing interpretive borders in higher education:

  • Utilitarianism: views universities as vehicles for the promotion of sectarian interests e.g. religious, political, economic → doctrines dictate the boundaries of science and denies the search for truth without fear nor favour (religious language abundant in university e.g. professor, sabatical, rector). University as a vehicle to continue the doctrine or belief e.g. when universities in South Africa advanced the notion of Apartheid in different fields (biology, politics, religion, etc.). “Truth” would be based on doctrine.
  • Scientism: views “real knowledge” on the basis of empiricist, quantitative assumptions and a correspondent theory of truth. Science is the future, Humanities is the past. Some scientists are blind to the social construction of scientific paradigms. Blind to the link between science and the power or use of science. Blind to the complexity of personal and societal development.
  • Liberalism: rests on presumed a-contextual and unversalist assumptions about the human person, rationality and knowledge whist actually reflecting post-Enlightenment, Western thinking. “Professional training is vicious”. I think therefore I am vs. ubuntu = I am who I am because of who we all are. “Vicious ideological nature of Western scientific thinking”. Are there non-empirical forms of validation that are equally valid as scientific ones? Are all forms of non-Western knowledge subject to verfication by Western evaluation practices?

If universities don’t exist for the public good, they become playgrounds for the rich. Commercial language can change the direction of education e.g. when a “vice chancellor” becomes a “CEO”

Crossing 5 metaphorical boundaries

  • Centre – periphery: where you are born will determine your ability to succeed in the world / geographical (in)justice
  • Conceptual – technical / applied (epistemic justice). People who work with their hands are not as “smart” as people who can “think”. In South Africa, we need a greater emphasis on technical / applied knowledge. More colleges, fewer universities.
  • Uniformity (globalism) – plurarility (glo-cality) (cultural justice): where everyone wears jeans, watches BBC and speaks English. Emphasise a system where I can function at a global level but remain true to my local context. What is the impact on language / culture of the homogenising effect of university?
  • Anthropocentrism – cosmocentric thinking (ecological justice): it’s a problem when science and technology seeks only to improve the lot of human beings at the expense of everything else.
  • Past / present – future (noogenic justice): the world is in a mess, we need to prepare students to improve the future. Challenge students to imagine a future that does not exist, and give them the knowledge and skills to create it.


Perceptions of PBL group effectiveness in a diverse pharmacy student population
Lindi Mabope

Study set out to evaluate student perceptions of differences in plenary vs small group work in a PBL context

4th years have better experiences with groups than 3rd years

Some students prepare only what THEY need to present in plenary sessions, whereas small groups mean that students must prepare better and more broadly

Students generally feel that the plenary sessions aren’t a “good way of learning”

Most students agree that working in small groups helps develop tolerance for language and cultural difference

Most students agreed that small group working helped them to work effectively

Cases in small groups helped students to clarify areas of difficulty

PBL seemed to work well across a diverse student group, perceptions were generally positive

Confusing / difficult conceptual work required the development of certain attributes e.g. communication, self-directed learning, tolerance

Some students found the small groupwork sessions frustrating and challening

Groups demand a large investment in time and energy, from students and staff

Problems must be resolved very early on

Continuous monitoring and evaluation of the PBL process is essential

Facilitators must pay regular attention of the changing needs of the students (students change and develop as part of the process, as do their needs, so facilitators must be aware of the changes and change the programme accordingly)

Use the positive benefits of diversity, rather than merely work around it (how can student diversity actually feed into the programme, encourage students to bring themselves into the cases, share their own life experiences in order to enrich the module)

Supporting and enabling PG success: building strategies for empowerment, emotional resilience and conceptual critical work
Gina Wisker

What are the links between students’ development and experiences: ontology (their sense of being in the world) and epistemology (how they construct knowledge)
Why do students undertake doctorates and what happens during their studies to help / hinder them?

Conceptual threshold crossing (Meyer & Land): the moments when you know that you’re being cleverer than you thought you were 🙂

What can staff do to enhance and safeguard research student wellbeing and nudge conceptual threshold crossing?

Building emotional resilience and wellbeing

Students kept learning journals for a duration of 3 years and included interviews during that period

“Troublesome encounters” (Morris & Wisker, 2011)

Doctoral learning journeys are multi-dimensional:

  • Meeting course requirements (instrumental)
  • Professional dimension
  • Intellectual / cognitive development
  • Ontological (how does it change the person?)
  • Personal / emotional

How do doctoral students signify their awareness of working conceptually?

How do supervisors recognise students’ conceptual grasp of research (this applies equally well to UGs conceptual grasp of the discipline)

Conceptual crossing is evidenced by:

  • Troublesome knowledge
  • Movements on from stuck places through liminal spaces into new understanding
  • Transformations (Meyer & Land)

Ontological change: seeing the self and the world differently and you can’t go back
Epistemological contribution: making new contributions to understanding and meaning

You have to find your own way, otherwise it’s a mechanistic process

Threshold concepts are:

  • Transformative: developing an academic identity
  • Irreversible: when you change how you perceive the world, you can’t go back
  • Integrative: forming relationships between what seemed previously to be disparate ideas
  • Troublesome knowledge: dealing with complexity

Learning moments that may indicate threshold crossings:

  • Coming up with research questions
  • Determining relationships between existing theory and own work
  • Device methods and engage with methods
  • Deal with surprises and mistakes
  • Analsyse and interpret data

There needs to be a number of conceptual leaps, otherwise the thesis is a box-ticking exercise

Make sure that the doctoral project has boundaries. The work is part of a greater whole, and the more focused the work, the easier it is to define the boundaries

Research is a journey (risks, surprises, deviations, even though it looks mapped), but a thesis is a building (ordered, coherent, organised, linked)

Constructive, intellectually challenging relationships

Student wellbeing is essential for postgraduate success:

  • Academic
  • Personal
  • Financial

There are factors in the learning environment that pose challenges to student wellbeing

What are the wellbeing issues for our research students?

Negative impacts cripples creativity and encourages you to take the path of least resistance, where the project is more about a qualification and less about innovation

Important to switch off from the process and engage in the world in different ways, as a coping strategy when experiencing difficulty


Crossing borders between face-to-face and online learning: the evaluation of an online tutoring initiative
Sanet Snoer

Collaborative learning has as its main feature a structure that encourages students to talk

Created an online module because student numbers increased, shortages of venues and tutors, timetable clashes, changing student profile and needs

Blended approach could help with logistical problems, expose students to a new way of learning, more challenging activities, develop wide variety of skills

Uses Gilly Salmon’s model for teaching and learning online as a point of departure, provides scaffolding to take students through a process of familiarising students with the environment

Students’ perceptions of online components were generally positive. However, students reported challenges with effective textual communication and typing, time management (which seems odd, since blended learning seeks to help with time issues), self-expression, understanding of concepts that are read rather than heard, poor familiarity with computers and the internet → disadvantage, feedback is immediate with face-to-face, relationships → face-to-face is a more personal interaction

Used Community of Inquiry framework to develop good online teaching practices (see Kleimola & Leppisaari, 2008 for breakdown of different “presences”)


  • Needs to be agreement about turnaround time for feedback from facilitators
  • Purpose of each activity should be clear
  • Understand the benefits of the activities
  • Must model effective online behaviour
  • Communicate expecations clearly
  • Promote the mind shift that needs to take place
  • Create a non-threatening environment
  • Don’t assume students are familiar with the environment
  • Explain the role of face-to-face and online activities

Was there integration of online and offline activities? Used real-world examples to develop conversation around activities


Students’ learning satisfaction from a blended learning environment for physiology
Saramarie Eagleton

What aspects of technology provide benefits / advantages to the learning process. NOT whether technology is inherently good or bad


How collaborative groupwork affects students’ writing
Shena Lamb-du Plessis, Laetitia Radder

Aim was to get the students to write in as many different ways, and as regularly as possible during the course

Used group journal reflections and group progress reports

Peer feedback is valuable when students know from the start that they will be sharing their work with others

Developing a writing identity means pushing students to think for themselves and to imagine themselves as writers

A process of developing and clarifying thoughts by sharing them with an audience

Groupwork can shape the meaning of the work

Group dialogue helped to define / outline the writing requirements

Students felt that personal expression validated their viewpoints

Helped to develop self-confidence when they realised that others shared their experiences

Must introduce conflict management strategies, orient students to role allocation, discuss writing tasks to restructure meaning


Exploring the tension between institutional learning management systems and emergent technologies: staff perspectives at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Daniela Gachago, Eunice Ivala, Agne Chigona

What are “emerging technologies” and can they disrupt teaching practice?

The impact of technologies in education falls short of the rhetoric:

  • They are used to support and improve current teaching practices
  • Teachers and students use a limited range of technologies
  • Used to reproduce existing practice, as opposed to transforming practice
  • Supports passive, teacher-centred and didactic instruction

Need to redefine e-learning: “can no longer be viewed as a purely institutionally based or narrowly defined set of activities” (HEFCE paper, 2009, 5). Difficult because institutions are reluctant to give up their power and control

There is a shift of the locus on control:

  • Control moves to students and lecturers
  • Transfer of authority of knowledge and ownership of technology

Type I technologies replicate existing practices, Type II technologies allow students and lecturers to do things that they couldn’t do before

In complex-adaptive domains, knowledge doesn’t provide prospective predictability but rather, retrospective coherence. Learning should be self-organised and collaborative (Williams, Karousou, Macness, 2011)

“Hard” technologies: constraining and limiting, stifles creativity e.g. LMS
“Soft” technologies: freedom to play

Soft technologies require skill and artistry. It’s not just what you do but how you do it.

Qualities of disruptive technologies (Meyer, 2010):

  • Student-centred
  • Designed to offer options, motivate students, provide connections to the lives, jobs and communities of students
  • Capitalise on willingness of students to experiment and fail, to improve, and to keep at problems until solutions are crafted

Laurillard (2002, 141): We’re playing with digital tools but with an approach still born in the transmission model. There is no progress therefore, in how we teach, despite what is possible with the new technology

Laurillard’s conversational framework: there’s no escape from the need for dialogue, there is a constant exchange between teacher and student:

  • Discursive
  • Interactive
  • Adaptive
  • Reflective

Laurillard (2002). Rethinking university teaching.

No one approach is better than the other. We need to have a mix of approaches to get the maximum benefit of using different tools

“It’s a way of doing life. It’s not about computers. It’s not about mobile learning. It’s just learning – it’s just life”


Analysing teaching and learning at five comprehensive universities
Sioux McKenna

What are the mechanisms in the world that exist in order for us to have the experiences that we do?

Move beyond the statistics of higher education, and ask what must the institution be like in order for this to be (im)possible?

What is the role of Culture (ideas), Structure (process), and Agency (people)?

Most institutions continue to reflect their individual histories as rural/urban, disadvantaged/advantaged, traditional/university of technology. There seemed to be little cohesion in terms of what it means to be a comprehensive university.

Comprehensive universities emphasise the management discourse that focuses on the “complexity to be managed” rather than a “knowledge discourse” i.e. what is knowledge / research, etc.

There are implications for academic identify and research output

“Powerful ways of knowing”

Often students are constructed as deficits i.e. they are deficit in language, life skills, motivation, etc.


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