During her high-school years, Renelle Terblanche dreamt of becoming a Matie. Years later, she achieved that goal. Today, she is a proud alumna who uses her skills to help advance teaching and learning at Stellenbosch University (SU).
In the month of Workers' Day, we feature some of our staff and their part in keeping the wheels turning at our institution. Terblanche told us more about her work at the University.
What is your role at SU?
I coordinate hybrid-learning offerings by working as a project-level liaison with the relevant academic departments, the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) design team, and other stakeholders. I contribute to the initial curriculum and pedagogical planning phase, followed by hands-on coordination of online learning design. Then I also work closely with the hybrid-learning project manager to prepare for the implementation of individual offerings. This involves liaising with technical, administrative and academic environments to ensure a high-quality online learning experience.
What does a typical day at work look like?
Staying true to the hybrid nature of our projects, our team follows the same approach at work. I enjoy going to the office every now and then for meetings, to brainstorm with the hybrid-learning team, or to use the big whiteboard to plan. But most of the time, we work remotely, which is helpful if I need to put my head down and focus on a difficult task. Microsoft Teams does stay open for some GIF sharing, to provide or receive a motivational push, or to vent if it's a difficult day. While I enjoy all aspects of my role, my favourite activity is the quality assurance and evaluation of an offering before it is rolled out to students or participants.
How did your education or past experiences prepare you for this job?
My journey with SU started in 2009 as a first-year BA Social Dynamics student. In 2012, I commenced with my postgraduate studies in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, where I tutored for several lecturers. As I became more embedded in my research field of Environmental Sociology (focusing specifically on human-wildlife conflict), I started work as a part-time research assistant, did consultation work, and lectured part-time in the Department of Conservation Ecology.
As part of my tutoring and teaching experience, I have always been interested in how to make content more engaging for students, encourage them to exercise self-study, and how to use technology more interactively, while at the same time reducing lecturers' workload.
What do you enjoy most about your role and working at SU?
I am privileged to work with a close-knit team who share a vision and are dedicated to the same mission: to enhance hybrid learning at SU. I enjoy helping team members if they need my assistance, but also helping those outside the core team, such as lecturers. This role also allows me to work across faculties and disciplines. At high school already, I dreamt of becoming a Matie, and now I truly am a proud Matie!
The pandemic has changed the way we work and live. What keeps you motivated during these times?
Making to-do lists helps me stay focused. Nothing is as satisfying as ticking off tasks. Other major motivators are to make my parents proud … and that I need to work to go on my next holiday!
Tell us something exciting about yourself that few people would expect?
I am such a big music fan that the wheels of my bakkie never start turning before my playlist is playing … even if I'm just taking a drive to the shops.