Categories
education learning

Comment: The game of school.

Schools are about learning, but it’s mostly learning how to play the game. At some level, even though we like to talk about schools as though they are about learning in some pure, liberal-arts sense, on a pragmatic level we know that what we’re really teaching students is to get done the things that they are asked to do, to get them done on time, and to get them done with as few mistakes as possible.

I think the danger comes from believing that those who by chance, genetics, temperament, family support, or cultural background find the game easier to play are actually somehow inherently betteror have more human value than the other students.

The students who aren’t succeeding usually don’t have any idea that school is a game. Since we tell them it’s about learning, when they fail they then internalize the belief that they themselves are actual failures–that they are not good learners. And we tell ourselves some things to feel OK about this taking place: that some kids are smart and some are not, that the top students will always rise to the top, that their behavior is not the result of the system but that is their own fault.

Hargadon, S. (2019). The game of school. Steve Hargadon blog: The learning revoluation has begun.

I thought that this was an interesting post with a few ideas that helped me to think more carefully about my own teaching. I’ve pulled out a few of the sentences from the post that really resonated with me but there are plenty more. Once you accept the idea that school (and university) is a game, it all makes a lot more sense; ranking students in leaderboards, passing and failing (as in quests or missions), levelling up, etc.

The author also then goes on to present 4 hierarchical “levels” of learning that really describe frameworks or paradigms rather than any real description of learning (i.e. the categores and names of the levels in the hierarchy are to some extent, arbitrary; it’s the descriptions in each level that count).

If I think about our own physiotherapy programme, we use all 4 “levels” interchangeably and have varying degrees of each of them scattered throughout the curriculum. However, I’d say that the bulk of our approach happens at the lowest level of Schooling, some at Training, a little at Education, and almost none at Self-regulated learning. While we pay lip service to the fact that we “offer opportunities for self-regulated learning”, what it really boils down to is that we give students reading to do outside of class time.

Categories
education technology

Training students for jobs that don’t exist yet. Or not.

The top 10 in demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004. We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.

It takes some work to find out that the claim is not true.

Doxtdator, A. (2017). A field guide to ‘jobs that don’t exist yet’. Long View on Education.

If you’ve spent any time in education there’s a good chance you’ve seen the Shift Happens video below (this is the original version that came out in 2009 or thereabouts…there are updated versions for 2018 and 2019). It’s very inspiring (the music helps) and for the longest time I’d recommend it to anyone who’d listen. If you haven’t seen the video then watch it now before we move on.

The kind of complex thinking we deserve about education won’t come in factoids or bullet-point lists of skills of the future.

Doxtdator, A. (2017). A fieldguide to ‘jobs that don’t exist yet’. Long View on Education.

I’ve watched this video a lot, mainly in the first few years after starting as an academic because the narrative was perfectly aligned with the way I was thinking and the work I was doing. But as I’ve spent more time in education and research, I’ve become increasingly skeptical of the “sound bite” type solutions to pedagogical problems that are nuanced and complex. Having said that I’d say that, until earlier this year, I would still have been sympathetic to the main arguments in the video:

  • The rate of social and technical change is accelerating;
  • Because of the Internet and other emerging technologies;
  • Higher education is not adapting quickly enough;
  • But we need to future-proof our students;
  • So we’d better start changing soon.

In this More or less BBC podcast, Tim Harford asks what the staistical likelihood is that 65% of future jobs haven’t been invented yet and it seems fairly obvious straight away that it’s not a reasonable prediction. We might argue that the specific numbers are less important than the spirit of the claim, which is that the world is changing more quickly then ever before (probably true), and that this matters at a fundamental level (maybe true), and that how we respond in higher education has grave consequences for our students we train (little or no evidence that this is true). Consider the following quote from a presentation give in 1957:

We are too much inclined to think of careers and opportunities as if the oncoming generations were growing up to fill the jobs that are now held by their seniors. This is not true. Our young people will fill many jobs that do not now exist. They will invent products that will need new skills. Old-fashioned mercantilism and the nineteenth-century theory in which one man’s gain was another man’s loss, are being replaced by a dynamism in which the new ideas of a lot of people become the gains for many, many more.

Josephs, D. (1957). Oral presentation at the Conference on the American High School.

Notice 1) this statement is from a keynote given about 60 years ago, and 2) how closely the narrative mirrors the concerns raised about how contemporary education doesn’t prepare students for jobs that don’t yet exist. While it may be fair to say that the narrative might still be true, just on a longer timescale, it’s almost certainly not a result of the Internet, mobile phones or any other technology that’s emerged in the past few decades.

This is why I was delighted to come across the article I opened with. It’s a reminder that it’s essential that we take critical positions on the things we care most about.

Categories
AI education technology

Technology Beyond the Tools

You didn’t need to know about how to print on a printing press in order to read a printed book. Writing implements were readily available in various forms in order to record thoughts, as well as communicate with them. The use was simple requiring nothing more than penmanship. The rapid advancement of technology has changed this. Tech has evolved so quickly and so universally in our culture that there is now literacy required in order for people to effectively and efficiently use it.

Reading and writing as a literacy was hard enough for many of us, and now we are seeing that there is a whole new literacy that needs to be not only learned, but taught by us as well.

Source: Whitby, T. (2018). Technology Beyond the Tools.

I wrote about the need to develop these new literacies in a recent article (under review) in OpenPhysio. From the article:

As clinicians become single nodes (and not even the most important nodes) within information networks, they will need data literacy to read, analyse, interpret and make use of vast data sets. As they find themselves having to work more collaboratively with AI-based systems, they will need the technological literacy that enables them to understand the vocabulary of computer science and engineering that enables them to communicate with machines. Failing that, we may find that clinicians will simply be messengers and technicians carrying out the instructions provided by algorithms.

It really does seem like we’re moving towards a society in which the successful use of technology is, at least to some extent, premised on your understanding of how it works. As educators, it is incumbent on us to 1) know how the technology works so that we can 2) help students use it effectively while at the same time avoid exploitation by for-profit companies.

See also: Aoun, J. (2017). Robot proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. MIT Press.

Categories
personal

Uncertain times: A short reflection on career progression

As part of the 10 year celebration of SAFRI – the Southern African FAIMER Regional Institute – I was asked to contribute short reflection to a chapter on Professional development: Post fellowship on a personal and professional level. This is what I submitted (click here for a higher res PDF).

Categories
technology

Technology will make lecturers redundant – but only if they let it

Technology will make lecturers redundant — but only if they let it

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

A teacher walks into a classroom and begins a lesson. As she speaks, the audio is translated in real time into a variety of languages that students have pre-selected, so each can hear the lecturer’s voice in their own language. It can even be delivered directly into their auditory canal so that it does not disturb other students. The lecturer’s voice is also transcribed in real-time, appearing in a display that presents digital content over the students’ visual field.

As the lesson progresses, students identify concepts they feel need further clarification. They submit highly individual queries to search engines that use artificial intelligence algorithms to filter and synthesise results from a variety of sources. This information is presented in their augmented reality system, along with the sources used, and additional detail in the form of images and animations.

microsoft-hololens-medical-studies

All of the additional information gathered by students is collated into a single set of notes for the lesson, along with video and audio recordings of the interactions. It’s then published to the class server.

This isn’t science fiction. All of the technology described here currently exists. Over time it will become more automated, economical and accurate.

What does a scenario like the one described here mean for lecturers who think that “teaching” means selecting and packaging information for students? There are many excellent theoretical reasons for why simply covering the content or “getting through the syllabus” has no place in higher education. But for the purposes of this article I’ll focus on the powerful practical reasons that lecturers who merely cover the content are on a guaranteed path to redundancy.

The future isn’t coming – it’s here

The technology described above may sound outlandish and seem totally out of most students’ reach. But consider the humble – and ubiquitous – smartphone. A decade ago, the iPhone didn’t exist. Five years ago most students in my classes at a South African university didn’t have smartphones. Today, most do. Research shows that this growth is mirrored across Africa. The first cellphones were prohibitively expensive, but now smartphones and tablets are handed out to people opening a bank account. The technology on these phones is also becoming increasingly powerful, and will continue to advance so that what is cutting edge today will be mainstream in about five years’ time.

This educational technology can change the way that university students learn. But ultimately, machines can’t replace teachers. Unless, that is, teachers are just selecting and packaging content with a view to “getting through the syllabus”. As demonstrated above, computers and algorithms are becoming increasingly adept at the filtering and synthesis of specialised information. Teachers who focus on the real role of universities – teaching students how to think deeply and critically – and who have an open mind, needn’t fear this technology.

Crucial role of universities

In a society where machines are taking over more and more of our decision-making, we must acknowledge that the value of a university is not the academics who see their work as controlling access to specialised knowledge.

Rather, it’s that higher education institutions constitute spaces that encourage in-depth investigation into the nature of the world. The best university teachers don’t just focus on content because doing so would reduce their roles to information filters who simply make decisions about what content is important to cover.

Digital tools are quickly getting to the point where algorithms will outperform experts, not only in filtering content but also in synthesising it. Teachers should embrace technology by encouraging their students to build knowledge through digital networks both within and outside the academy. That way they will never become redundant. And they’ll ensure that their graduates are critical thinkers, not just technological gurus.The Conversation

Categories
education technology

Technology is no longer a luxury for universities – it’s a necessity

This is a republication of my article on The Conversation. See bottom of the post for the link to the original.

In the world’s new knowledge economy, innovation and technological change are recognised as the primary drivers of progress. Technological and digital literacy will be a crucial part of helping many countries move beyond their reliance on material resources.

Such literacy, and an understanding of technology in general, will also be crucial for university students. They will have to develop the ability to collaborate across multiple contexts, filter and synthesise information from a variety of sources. These skills will be necessary if students are to contribute to the world in the 21st century.

We live in a world where the phone in your pocket has more processing power than the computers that were used to put men on the moon. But what is being done to make better use of the affordances of technology in higher education? Not much, unfortunately. In general, academics continue along traditional lines of thinking and practice that seem to ignore technological progress and its accelerating rate of change.

To address these challenges, higher education institutions must ask what steps they can take to ensure that their students are relevant in the future. The following suggestions may help the academy to think differently about how technology is used in the classroom.

Access is increasing

One common rationale for not bringing technology into the classroom is that access to technology is not uniformly distributed among students. This is especially true in a country like South Africa, where I teach, and on the African continent as a whole. But access to textbooks is uneven, too, and no-one would use that as a reason to ban textbooks in class.

Things are changing faster than we think. When I started teaching in 2009, incorporating technology into the classroom was challenging. Few of my students had laptops or even computers at home. We didn’t have good access to wifi in lecture halls, so we had to use the computer labs. Now every student in my classroom is encouraged to use phones, tablets and laptops to search for new information that’s relevant to our topic, and to synthesise it for sharing in our discussions. They can do so because smartphones are ubiquitous. Students can also collaboratively author course notes for the module.

The network is what matters

But merely providing access to devices does little to help students learn. Many studies still centre on access to the device, as if handing a student a tablet will magically develop the skills needed to use it effectively. It is time to change academics’ thinking to prioritise the network over the device. The device is simply a window onto the network. The United Nations weighed in on this debate in 2011 when it declared that access to the internet should be recognised as a basic human right.

There is also a shift from vertical communication channels that privilege hierarchies of control to horizontal structures – like networks – that embody coordination, cooperation and collaboration. The power of the internet is not that it provides us with new and innovative means of sharing cat videos. It is a new communication paradigm that is constructed through community engagement and participation. It allows new forms of interaction between people, information and devices.

Preparing to adapt

As technology progresses and its influence becomes clear in every aspect of society – apart from higher education – universities need to ask if the next 50 years are going to look anything like the last 50. It seems as if the most important skill people can learn is how to adapt to a constantly changing world. If this is true, then academics may need to radically change what is prioritised in the curriculum, as well as how they teach students to learn. How can academics prepare students to be successful in a world that we can’t predict?

Incorporating technology into the classroom allows academics to help students develop the skill set needed for engaging meaningfully in the 21st century. Academics cannot continue with the notion that higher education is about providing students with access to specialised knowledge. Universities and individual lecturers cannot plan curricula for the lowest common denominator in terms of digital literacy and then base teaching and learning practices on that.

The academic enterprise is about striving to upset established models and paradigms and to push for change in how we understand and work within the world around us. It is time that academics applied themselves to this task – and technology is a crucial way of doing so.

The Conversation

Michael Rowe, Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy, University of the Western Cape

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Categories
writing

Thoughts on my first article for The Conversation

I pitched 3 ideas for articles to The Conversation: Africa at the end of last year, one of which was picked up to develop and publish. A few days ago I gave the go-ahead for it to be published and am happy to report that it is live. It’s called Technology is no longer a luxury for universities – It’s a necessity. My original title was a William Gibson quote: “The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed” but I gather the editor decided on something more accessible.

There are a few things that were different to what I was expecting, in particular the amount of input that the editor provides. I was expecting something more like critical feedback in the peer review process but it was actually more like having a co-author at times. This worked out well for me since I didn’t want to feel like I had to put in the same amount of time that I would for an academic paper. It was nice to have someone else try out the ideas and to actually make the changes to the article.

I was also surprised that the editor selected the header image. When I’m blogging I’m used to spending a bit of time trying to find a good picture that works with the post, so it was strange to see the final article with an image already included. This is both positive and negative. Positive because I didn’t have to spend the time finding a graphic with the right permissions (I suppose this is the main reason the editor takes on this responsibility), and negative because I may not like the selected picture, although this is obviously something that can be discussed.

All in all, I enjoyed the process, especially the very quick turnaround time from the initial submission of the idea to the final publication, which would have been even quicker had we not had the #FeesMustFall movement at the end of 2015. I am also impressed at the reach of the publication, which you can see in the screenshot below. That’s not bad considering it was only published this morning. Finally, The Conversation makes it very simple to republish articles on your own site – providing the source code for the piece – which you can copy into your own blogging platform. I’ll be doing that in my next post on this blog.

The Conversation 2016-01-12 10-53-04

 

Categories
mobile technology writing

Pitches for The Conversation: Africa

Selection_001

I’ve been wanting to contribute to The Conversation: Africa for ages and have only recently been able to put together a few pitches for the articles I’d like to write. If you’ve never heard of The Conversation, it’s a wonderful attempt to get academics to write thought-pieces that are more accessible to the general public and those outside the field. All content is also published under Creative Commons licenses, meaning that what you write is freely accessible and can be distributed in any number of ways. Here are a few points that resonate with me from The Conversation: 10 ways we are different page:

  1. In a world of misinformation and spin, The Conversation contributes to healthy democratic discourse by injecting facts and evidence into the public arena.
  2. All our content is sourced from university scholars and researchers who have deep expertise in their subject.
  3. We are transparent, with every author disclosing their expertise, funding, and conflicts of interest.
  4. All our content is free to read and republish under Creative Commons while the rest of the media charges for re-publication.
  5. We believe in the free flow of information. We disseminate our content to more than 12,000 sites worldwide. That gives our content a global reach of 23 million readers a month, and growing.
  6. To avoid commercial conflict we don’t carry advertising pop-ups or annoying autoplay.
  7. We are a not-for-profit organisation serving the public good.

It’s a bit more formal than a blog because you have to submit ideas to the editors who then review the pitch and provide you with guidelines and deadlines. I’ve drafted the outlines for three articles on the use of technology in higher education and sent the following three pitches to the editors.

Pitch 1: The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed
It has become a truism that when we talk about the integration of technology in the context of teaching and learning in higher education, we must avoid making assumptions about the level of physical and epistemological access that our students have when it comes to using that technology. However, while I acknowledge this important point, I do worry that too much emphasis on it leads to a conservative approach to the introduction of technology into the classroom, and that this conservatism will lead to our students having a significant disadvantage upon graduation. The world is not going to wait for our students to catch up and the deep integration of technology into every other aspect of life continues unabated, at an accelerating rate of change. So, how do we prepare our students for a world that we cannot predict? Is it by adding more content to the curriculum? Or is it by teaching students how to adapt to change, through the aggressive incorporation of digital technologies into teaching and learning practices through intentional pedagogical design?

Pitch 2: Dominant design and the future of technology in higher education
The power of technology in education is in it’s potential to bring about transformative forms of teaching and learning that fundamentally change the people who use it. And yet, when we look at how technology is used in higher education we see it predominantly used to encourage ways of thinking and learning that reinforce outdated pedagogical practices. Dominant design is a management concept suggesting that, once a design has taken hold and become dominant, future innovation in the field is directed towards improving that design rather than challenging it and creating new paradigms. This is exactly what we see when we consider the Learning Management System (LMS) which, for many, represents the cutting edge of technology-integrated teaching and learning. And yet, what does the LMS offer besides a cost-effective content-distribution system and an efficient way to manage students? In order to truly use technology to bring about transformative approaches to teaching and learning, we must establish the following beyond any doubt:

  1. The technology does matter; but pedagogy matters more.
  2. The integration of technology should solve more problems than it introduces.
  3. The technology must be accompanied with a concomitant change in practice.

Pitch 3: Why an emphasis on content in higher education is untenable in a digital society
There are important pedagogical reasons for why a focus on “covering the content” is flawed when it comes to higher education, not least of which is the idea that a higher education must be about more than the accumulation of facts and the ability to recall information on cue. The value of a university is not that its academics control access to specialised knowledge but that there is a need in society for spaces that encourage a deep and critical investigation into the nature of the world. By focusing purely on discipline-specific content, we do nothing to advance the academic project and instead reduce our roles as academics to filters, making decisions about what content is important to cover. But what happens when machines are able to outperform us as content filters? What happens when we can “outsource” information recall to our constantly connected devices? What do we do when our students are able to challenge us on every point we make? Do we retreat into the relative safety of an enforced disconnected classroom, or do we embrace the use of connected devices and work collaboratively with students to create deeper and more critical inquiries into the world?

 

Categories
conference

Emerging Technologies and Authentic Learning in Vocational Higher Education conference

Last week I attended the Emerging Technologies and Authentic Learning in Vocational Higher Education conference at the UCT Graduate School of Business, which had a pretty impressive lineup of keynote speakers:

The general theme of the conference was the idea of “learning and play”, with Professor Dick N’gambi opening the event with the following statement: “The creative adult is the child who survived”, referring to the fact that the formal educational system doesn’t encourage innovation and creativity. How do we prepare students for a world that we can’t predict, unless we encourage within them an attitude of exploration and discovery.

tumblr_mjlc9s45dM1ror67eo1_500

The conference was linked to a Special Issue of the British Journal of Educational Technology, to which I’ve submitted the following paper: Rowe – Developing graduate attributes in an open online course (note that this is currently under review). Here are my slides from the workshop I ran on setting up and running an open online course:

…and here is the Twitter feed for the event.


Categories
conference technology

Council on Higher Education ICT colloquium

The Council on Higher Education in South Africa is an independent statutory body that advises the government on all aspects of higher education policy, and today they held a colloquium on the use of ICTs in higher education. Here are the notes I took during the session.

Consonance and Dissonance in ICT and Higher Education (Laura Czerniewicz)
Informal vs formal directions of MOOCs. Maybe the universities and the academics need to look at the semi-formal path in-between the two other formats?

Adaptive learning – area of massive potential growth, seeing ++ investment but what happens when we have business models that determine the direction of student learning and higher education?

Also, face to face is complicated and expensive.

What are the risks in the higher education landscape?
What are the policies that map this terrain? What about privacy, ethics?
Who stands to benefit?

Blended learning is going to be the norm: arrays of delivery formats across (and within) institutions, programmes and courses.

HEIs must collaborate and work together

Comment from the audience that online learning doesn’t allow for institutional culture. But, you could argue that the online space sees students interacting with more culture and more difference and therefore more opportunity to have their prejudices and their biases confronted. What about, instead of institutional culture / academic culture, we look at community culture? How do we develop a sense of community and togetherness in online spaces?

What happens when the face to face student experience becomes the elite objective that only those with access get to experience? Maybe everyone gets access to higher education, but few get access to the campus experience.

The dominant discourse in the “emerging technology in higher education” conversation is a business model / financial discourse. This is hugely problematic for us.

Concerns about cost of bandwidth, but no acknowledgement that cost is always coming down, speed is always increasing. We’re going to start paying more for services and less for access. The cost of the pipe may even go away, but you’ll pay for the services.

See “Developing world MOOCs: A curriculum view of the MOOC landscape”, in Journal of global literacies, technologies and emerging technologies, and a curation of MOOC resources: www.scoop.it/t/moocswatch.

Concern that the MOOC conversation “doesn’t relate to our reality”, comment from UNISA representative, asking how much we can really engage with the idea of MOOCs? Why are we planning for today, rather than tomorrow? We don’t plan for now, we plan for what’s coming. In 5 years times everyone will have a supercomputer in their pocket and “the internet” will be everywhere.

One of the dangers is that the divides get bigger. Pushing students to work in online spaces is the ONLY way to narrow the gap. The “haves” will continue pushing and developing and growing…they’re not going to wait for the “have nots”. Unless we push intentionally and actively to bring the “have nots” up to the same level, we will see the gap continue to grow.

ICTs and Intellectual Property Rights (Caroline Ncube)
Concerns about copyright implications of a changing HE landscape that is moving towards flexible and open, online learning.

Moving from the place to the platform. Are we really moving towards the mobile device for real work? Or is this still a consumption device?

MOOCs traditionally are created in the North and are increasingly being used / consumed in the South. Are we going to get into the MOOC-business? Why should we? Let’s just run our courses for our students, and make them available?

Questions

  • Who owns the learning materials produced by HEI staff?
  • What rights to it does the HEI have?
  • Do different types of materials raise different questions e.g. what about video and audio capture of lectures…that is now a product / course material? Do we need to get permission from students for their image / voice capture? First of all, audio and video recordings are not new, they’ve been around for as long as we’ve been able to record video and audio.
  • What about the nature and extent of sharing materials? How far? How wide? For how long?

There’s a concern about lecturing in public. Maybe this will drive lecturers to get better?

The intellectual property related to materials produced by an academic in service of an institution is owned by the institution. So does this mean that academics can create resources and share them openly as part of open online courses? What about institutions who encourage their staff to license their materials with, for example, creative commons licenses?

Copyright protects original work in material form created by a person who is a citizen of the country granting the license. It does not protect ideas, only the material representation of that idea. It exists automatically i.e. the creator of the work doesn’t need to explicitly claim those rights.

Brief look at integrity and paternity aspects of moral rights, as well as economic rights.

Video on Creative Commons licensing (https://creativecommons.org/).

UCT has contractual policies regarding IP, so UCT owns the material but allows them to be licensed with CC licenses for broader distribution (UCT has signed the Berlin Declaration).

Questions

  • What are the implications of the stated DHET preference for OERs?
  • What is the present role of legislation in terms of all these issues?
  • Should there be changes in the conversation in light of the move towards open and online?

 

National Infrastructure development supporting ICTs at universities (Duncan Greaves)
NREN (National Research and Education Network) is a Good Thing, as they are critically important in higher education.

Different to ISPs because mature NRENs offer richer and more elaborate services on top of the infrastructure.

One NREN / One country which enables more efficient relationships between stakeholders. About 100 NRENs in the world, that all interconnect with each other. Africa connects to the global network via Europe.

They are controlled by their beneficiary institutions, but can range in terms of governmental control.

Number of staff can be used as a proxy indicator for complexity and scope of the NREN.

South African NREN (SANREN), outcome of collaboration between TENET (non profit company owned by 23 public universities in SA and 6 research councils) and the CSIR. Originally required significant investment from Department of Science and Technology.

Founded to meet the internetworking requirements of SA HEIs.

2014 international bandwidth = 7.5GB/s (compared to 2008 = 241MB/s)

Good design is invisible. Poor design is very visible.

South Africa gets 4GB/s per day, just from Google. SANREN doesn’t look at the content moving through the pipe.

The current challenge is to decide if this infrastructure is a NRN, a NReN, or an NREN? In other words, what services is the network going to privilege? Universities can be seen to have a primary interest in either research or education, depending on who is defining the role of the university.

Unresolved questions

  • Who will be served? Universities, academic hospitals, schools? Not a simple question.
  • What governance arrangements are in place?
  • How will the network be funded?
  • Who will decide what services will operate?

Why do we have this idea that all we need to do to “fix” higher education is to add technology?

 

The DHET’s projects relating to ICTs (EL van Staden)
Focus of presentation is on policy and funding decisions made by DHET

What are the challenges in the higher education system, and how is DHET responding in terms of strategies related to ICT?

DHET looking at expansion, access and equality. In addition, looking at PhD staff to increase to more than 75%, and move the “distance” component of higher education to 40%.

Our current physical infrastructure prevents us from scaling up higher education in SA. We currently cannot reach our targets for access by 2030. DE must include a qualitative alternative in order to make a significant contribution to growth.

Evolving some institutions into blended institutions. There needs to be a convergence of ways in which traditionally “F2F” and “distance” institutions offer their courses.

There needs to be an enabling environment for appropriate integration of ICT to enhance distance education provision. There must also be reasonable access to affordable connectivity.

We need to be very careful about conflating “effective use of technology” with “improvements in student learning”. There is a strong sense of the wonder and magic of the internet to solve our problems.

“If we can dream it, we can achieve it”. We can’t afford to dream. What is the practical reality in terms of the problems we have in higher education, and how do we address those?

ICTs must complement the teacher, not replace them. Need to look at capacity development of academic to use technology to enhance learning.

We must be careful about thinking that “open” is necessarily “good” because open is not always used to mean transparent. It is usually used to mean “free to access”.

Social media in higher education (Vivienne Bozalek)
Students using social media for social purposes, rather than professional purposes

We are in a position of gross inequality in SA higher education, how do we ensure that we are inclusive in our strategies?

Important to share ideas and experiences across institutions. Challenge that all institutions use different platforms. Move to social, cloud-based tools.

Pedagogy more important (obviously) than technology or platforms.

Are there any disadvantages to using social tools that connect academics? Difficult to separate personal from learning. Do you want to separate them?

Options to encourage use of social media

  • Support teachers
  • Encourage and support use
  • Build in time for teacher development
  • Sustainable infrastructure
  • Recognise and reward innovation

Need policies to support innovative use of social media. Innovation without institutional support won’t scale to institutional levels. If you only ever work as an individual, your ideas won’t scale.

Resolve binary between research and teaching, where they are different. Need an expanded view of scholarship (see Boyer, 1994 – Scholarship reconsidered, and Brew, 2003 – Teaching and Research: New relationships and their implications for inquiry-based teaching and learning in higher education, for a discussion).

How does social media, which is perceived as open and informal, get integrated into university spaces, which are traditionally quite closed and formal? How do we bring those tools into the classroom?

Lots of assumptions about student and staff use, and efficacy of use, of social media. Students and staff represent a diverse group.

Do students mistrust institutional use of social media?

How do we regulate professional boundaries when we do mix professional relationships in social platforms?

Does the role of the teacher / lecturer change when you start using social media in the classroom? How does it change? An example of using the tool that changes behaviour.

We must accept that we can’t control learning. But the suggestion here is that we can manage it. What is the difference between control and manage? Social media is about moving through and beyond boundaries, not trying to manage them.

We’ve just had a long discussion about social media but we haven’t defined what we mean by social media. We all have different ideas about what that term means.

We must be careful of using technology to reinforce our biases and prejudices.

Discussion session
Markus Mostert makes the point that there are a lot of IT people here and very few academics / pedagogical experts. The discussion around infrastructure is important but then we must be sure that we don’t talk about T&L. The “building technological infrastructure for learning” is a different conversation to learning.

Priorities are expressed through policy, but academics don’t want to feel regulated. Policy must serve to support the scholarship endeavour without directing it in too narrow a focus.

There is a strong case to be made for the idea that academics must be technologically literate. If you’re an academic, you can no longer say that you don’t understand technology.