Our first Learning and Teaching Enhancement (LTE) Seminar for 2020 was presented by Profs. Jan Botha & Liezel Frick, Dr. Nompilo Tshuma, and Ms Miné de Klerk. The title of their presentation was “Shifting pedagogical practices and identities: Lessons learned from the virtual classroom".
There is an evolving continuum of delivery modes at Stellenbosch University (SU), ranging from fully online teaching and learning to face-to-face interaction. There is a sense of urgency and relevancy to move to more online modes of delivery, and what is currently emerging, at SU, is a hybrid learning mode of delivery. The DIES/CREST Online Training Course for Supervisors of Doctoral Candidates at African Universities is an online short course that SU facilitates in collaboration with Rhodes University. Online short courses such as this provide a unique learning opportunity on what works and doesn't work, when thinking about introducing hybrid learning for programmes and modules.
The presentation was a reflection on shifting identities from four perspectives:
- The course facilitator,
- The e-tutor,
- The participants, and
- The third space professional
The rationale for offering this was noting that the African continent has seen a high number of PhD enrollments, requiring an urgent need to ensure that the outputs are of high quality. To ensure this high quality, PhD supervisors need to be capacitated with the skills required for good supervision through well-conceptualised courses such as this.
Reflecting on their experience, the presenters noted that a virtual classroom brings with it complexities that one needs to 'brave'. It affects one's notion of identity and requires ongoing dialogue and trust between the role players involved, having the courage to cross boundaries, and being able to continually apply a critical lens to one's own practice.
There was a lively engagement from colleagues present, who noted that the presentation prompted deeper thinking around pedagogical decisions one takes when facilitating a fully online or hybrid course. Feedback elicited after the seminar indicates that those who attended found the seminar to be very useful, citing that they appreciated listening to the different perspectives; which they found useful in shaping their thinking about teaching and learning going forward.
The next LTE Seminar will be on the 12th of May and will be hosted by the Centre for Teaching and Learning. Dr. Karin Cattell-Holden will be presenting on the recognition of excellent teaching.