“Brilliant! Highly recommended for those who haven’t yet attended!”
This appreciative comment summarises the positive response from the participants in the 14th Professional Educational Development Programme for Academics (PREDAC). A group of 69 newly appointed SU academics attended PREDAC 2012 from 29 January to 2 February at the Goudini Conference Centre, Rawsonville.
The participants represented 10 faculties (the Military Academy included) and 44 departments at SU. Their teaching experience varied from 15 years to none, with 16 newly appointed lecturers representing the latter category. Taking this diversity of experience into account, the PREDAC programme covered a wide range of topics, including the SU context, the planning of a module (outcomes and assessment), and how to enhance student learning. Participants regarded a microteaching session, where a mini-lecture by each was filmed and then discussed by the other participants and a PREDAC facilitator in small groups, as a particularly valuable learning experience.
As in the last two years, the programme was presented predominantly in parallel Afrikaans and English sessions. In a new addition to the programme, “Designing for learning”, lecturers worked together every day in small groups across language boundaries to create a spectrum of learning opportunities for students, which could be used as a teaching resource. To enable the use of blended learning in this project, and to provide the participants with access to email, a computer room was set up for the duration of PREDAC.
PREDAC 2012 was officially opened by the former Vice-Rector (Teaching), Prof. Magda Fourie-Malherbe, who discussed teaching at SU within the international and national context of higher education. Senior faculty representatives Profs. Johann de Villiers (Economic and Management Sciences), Eugéne Cloete (Science), Hennie Kotzé (Arts and Social Sciences), Marietjie de Villiers (Health Sciences) and Louise Warnich (Agrisciences) attended the opening function. They utilised the opportunity to not only get to know new lecturers in their respective faculties, but also informally discuss faculty-related issues and answer lecturers’ questions.
Feedback from the participants confirmed that they regarded PREDAC as a valuable experience. “The active learning ‘forced’ me to learn! The diverse methods prevented boredom and gave me new ideas, and also placed me in the student’s position”, one lecturer remarked. Another commented: “Ek het baie geleer deur self te doen en met ander te bespreek.” Participants highlighted not only the value of PREDAC as a learning experience about teaching, but also the enjoyment the programme offers: “We are not only enjoying, but we are empowered with the necessary skills as lecturers. We will confidently implement what we gathered here in PREDAC.”
The PREDAC short course consists of three modules of which the participants have completed Module 1. The other two modules extend to the end of the year, and consist of class visits upon request, participation in workshops, short courses, seminars and focused interest groups (FIGs), and a mini-conference specifically for PREDAC participants in October. Participants can also compile a portfolio of their work, with the assistance of a PREDAC facilitator.
Nominations for PREDAC 2013 – which will not take place in January, but later in the year – will be invited towards the end of this year. If you require further information about PREDAC, please contact Dr Karin Cattell from the Centre for Teaching and Learning at (021) 808 3074 or email@example.com
On 22 and 23 May the annual SoTL conference was organised by The Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) for the sixth time. The Lord Charles Hotel was the venue for the 190 SU academics during the 2012 celebration of teaching.
The participants represented all ten faculties and the 59 presentations were inspiring and innovative. Quoting the words of a conference delegate, participants found the conference of value because it created a platform to "network, learn about teaching and learning experiences across disciplines and share practices".
The two invited speakers were Prof Ronald Barnett, Emeritus Professor of Higher Education at the Institute of Education, University of London and Prof Joan Tronto from the department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. The two invited speakers together with Dr Therina Theron from the Research Development Division and Prof Cecilia Jacobs from CTL were the four judges who attended pre-selected presentations in order to select an overall winner of the best presentation.
Ms Liezl Nieuwoudt from Economics was announced as the winner of the overall prize – participation in an international conference on teaching and learning. The other presenters on the shortlist were Ms Lianne Keiller from Physiotherapy, Ms Anita Jonker from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Prof Johann Louw and Mr Joubert van Eeden from Logistic, Drs Liesel Retief, Marietjie Potgieter and Marietjie Lutz from Chemistry and Mr van Niekerk and Mr Khan with Ms Anthea Lesch from Psychology.
The winners of the "Participants' choice" award were Dr Susan van Schalkwyk from the CHSE, Ms Liezl Nieuwoudt from Economics and Drs Marianne McKay (Viticulture and Oenology) and Antoinette Smith-Tolken (Community Interaction). The winners of the award as "Young upcoming researcher" were Ms Lianne Keiller, Dr Marcelyn Oostendorp and Mr Seamus Allardice.
The Rector, Prof Russel Botman, welcomed the participants on day one and praised them for their role in delivering quality education at SU. Later during the morning Prof Botman also participated in a session on "Academic renewal at SU" facilitated by Dr Antoinette van der Merwe from ITS. The closing panel on day two was introduced by Prof Hansie Knoetze from Engineering and during the interactive session that followed, lecturers discussed the factors that play a role in the quality of learning and teaching at SU under the guidance of Prof Jan Botha from IRP.
The next SoTL conference will be presented in 2014 and SU academics are encouraged to participate in the HELTASA conference which will be organised in Stellenbosch from 27 to 30 November. The closing date for submission of abstracts for HELTASA is 1 July and more information is available on the website at www.heltasa2012.co.za.
The CTL congratulates two Stellenbosch University lecturers selected by the national Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA) committee for teaching excellence.
Lecturers from across South Africa were invited by their heads of department to submit their teaching and learning portfolios. A total of 27 candidates had been nominated and the quality of portfolios received was extremely high.
Mr Len Steenkamp (Senior Lecturer: Accounting Department) was selected as one of the top five recipients of the award of Excellence in Teaching and Learning while Prof David Holgate (Associate Professor: Department Mathematics) received a commendation.
The award was handed over to Mr Steenkamp at the annual HELTASA conference, hosted by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, on 1 December 2011.
HELTASA aims to recognize lecturers who demonstrate excellence in teaching and learning. Their selection is a great achievement for their faculties as well as for Stellenbosch University. Lecturers such as these serve as role models and leaders with regard the higher education sector in South Africa.
The role of academics at universities has changed immensely over the past years, so much so that lecturers today have to play a wide variety of roles.
So says Prof Kerri-Lee Krause, Chair in Higher Education and Director of the Institute for Higher Education at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. She was the keynote speaker on Monday (16 May) at the fifth annual Conference on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
The conference, presented by the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at Stellenbosch University (SU), was held at the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset-West.
Dr Ludolph Botha, Senior Director: Student and Academic Support, welcomed delegates. Over the two days, SU staff members from ten faculties and support services, as well as lecturers from other universities and those at private institutions, discussed the challenges of teaching and learning in higher education.
“Teaching and learning is at the heart of what we do at SU,” said Botha.
Prof Russel Botman, SU Rector, welcomed guests in a video recording, saying that SU would also like to support teaching and learning through its HOPE Project. “The Fund for Innovation and Research into Learning and Teaching (FIRLT) is another important programme through which research can be done to enhance our curriculum.”
Krause especially focused on academics’ new diverse role at higher education institutions, apart from only teaching and doing research.
“Academic work has become fragmented, and academics have numerous roles to play – not just research. You have a disciplinary identity, but also institutional and corporate identities.”
She said that these various roles have become a huge challenge in higher education. “It causes role strain, and the challenge is to reconcile traditional values of academia with corporate and commercialised values. Academics should be aware of these changes (in higher education) and its influences.”
But, said Krause, the diversification of academics’ role also presents opportunities, for example the opportunity for public scholarship. This entails a “responsibility to focus research on social, civic, economic, educational, artistic and cultural well-being of communities beyond the academy”.
According to Krause systemic support from a university is needed to change the concept of academic work. There are also policy and practical implications.
Krause mentioned furthermore that the profile of academics, pertaining to their work load and role, changes constantly as their career develops.
Prof Jenni Case of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Cape Town was the keynote speaker on Tuesday morning. She has published several articles about her research on student experiences and learning. Her topic focused on the links between educational research, scholarly teaching and the improvement of student learning.
Through her research (under second year engineering students), Case was able to put processes in place which eventually lead to an improvement of students learning and results.
The conference came to a close on Tuesday night with a cocktail function where awards were presented. The prize for best presentation was awarded to Dr Marietjie Lutz. The prize comprises a trip to an international conference on teaching and learning.
Click here to view more photographs of the conference.
No less than seventeen of the thirty students who were rewarded for their hard work at the first Prestige evening that was held in 2008, received their degrees cum laude in 2009. A further nine students obtained their degrees, also cum laude, in 2010 and of the entire group about seventeen have either already obtained a postgraduate qualification or are currently busy with postgraduate studies.
Prof Magda Fourie, Vice-Rector: Teaching at SU, shared these statistics at this year’s First-year Academy (FYA) Prestige evening. She also shared how the students described some of the characteristics of a good lecturer including their excellent knowledge of their subject matter, their ability to explain complex concepts in a simple and easily accessible manner, their accessibility and their caring attitude and compassion for students.
The gala event, which was held at Neethlingshof, acknowledged the academic achievements of thirty-two first year students (now in their second year of study). Prior to the event each student, from across the ten faculties, had to indicate, in writing, which lecturer they felt had made the greatest contribution to their success during their first year at Stellenbosch University. These lecturers were, in turn, invited to attend the dinner and to respond, also in writing, to the students that had nominated them. The lecturers spoke of the characteristics they identified among all the nominated students - their curiosity, innovative thoughts, intelligence and willingness to work hard.
Prof Russel Botman, SU Rector, welcomed the guests and said the aim of the evening was to celebrate excellence. He cautioned the students that with this achievement comes the responsibility to use their knowledge and skills to help others. He encouraged them to pool their knowledge to help with solutions for the problems in the country as well as on the continent. He also congratulated the nominated lecturers and said they are the ‘key figures’ and play a very important role in the academic progress of students.
Henri Smith, who was nominated in 2008, and obtained his Mechanical Engineering degree cum laude at last year’s graduation ceremony, was also one of the speakers at the Prestige evening. He encouraged students to lead a balanced life and said that although the academic side is very important; students must also enjoy their ‘Stellenbosch experience’. "It goes by very quickly and it is something, once it is gone, you can never get back."
Click here to view a complete list of the recipients.
A three–year research project, "Context, Structure and Agency", funded by the National Research Foundation, is being led by the Centre for Teaching at Stellenbosch University. This study is an investigation into contextual influences on the professional development of academics as teachers in higher education in South Africa. It will consist of an analysis of the national context, and eight case studies at public higher education institutions. It will explore how material, policy and cultural forces influence individuals’ engagement in professional development opportunities, and what kinds of professional development are effective in these environments. Eight universities are participating in this investigation which, it is hoped, will contribute to a national framework on how to provide context-sensitive opportunities for the professional development of academics in their teaching role.
The first two-day planning meeting was held at Granger Bay, Cape Town, on 2-3 March 2011.
For more information, contact Brenda Leibowitz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
“I wish I could fail PREDAC so that I could come again next year!”
This appreciative comment summarises the positive response from participants in the 13th Professional Educational Development Programme for Academics (PRONTAK/PREDAC). A group of 69 newly appointed SU academics attended PREDAC 2011 from 24 to 27 January at the Goudini Conference Centre, Rawsonville.
The participants represented 10 faculties (including the Military Academy) and 38 departments at SU. Their teaching experience ranged from 16 years to none, with lecturers with no experience making up almost a third of the group. The PREDAC programme took this diversity into account by covering a wide variety of topics, such as an introduction to the SU context, planning a module (outcomes and assessment), and promoting student learning (how to engage students’ minds). Participants could also choose to attend one of four electives, which included teaching effectively with emerging technologies, teaching large classes, and research into teaching. A microteaching session, where a short presentation by participants was filmed and then discussed by their peers and a PREDAC facilitator, was regarded as a highly valuable learning experience.
Faculty representatives Profs. Johann de Villiers (EMS), Eugéne Cloete (Science), Marietjie de Villiers (Health Sciences), Marianna Visser (ASS) and Peter Dunaisky (Engineering) lead a panel discussion on the three roles of an academic at SU. In addition Prof. Magda Fourie, Vice-Rector:Teaching, discussed topical issues regarding teaching at SU with participants over dinner. “PREDAC is an important opportunity for new lecturers to become acquainted with the strategic direction of the University and to learn how to align their teaching activities with that direction. It further offers unique opportunities for the formation of networks across faculties – something that could be very valuable to young lecturers,” Prof. Fourie remarked.
Feedback from the participants confirmed Prof. Fourie’s perspective. “I am now excited about being a lecturer! I have learnt a lot about the University and that makes me feel part of the Stellenbosch family,” one lecturer said. Another commented: “Excellent opportunity to interact with lecturers from different disciplines and with more experience. I’ll recommend to anyone to participate!” The value of PREDAC as a learning experience about teaching drew the most positive comments, however. The following remark was echoed by various participants: “PREDAC inspired me to transform my profession to an even better thought-provoking and enjoyable experience.”
The PREDAC short course consists of three modules of which the participants have completed Module 1. The other two modules extend to the end of the year, and consist of class visits upon request, participation in workshops and focused interest groups (FIGs), and a mini-conference specifically for PREDAC participants in October. Participants can also compile a portfolio of their work, with the aid of the PREDAC facilitators.
Nominations for PREDAC 2012 will be invited during November 2011. Should you have any questions about PREDAC or would like more information, please contact Dr Karin Cattell from the Centre for Teaching and Learning at (021) 808 3074 / 2813 or email@example.com.
Four winners of the national HEQC/HELTASA Teaching Excellence Awards were celebrated at the annual HELTASA Conference, held at the University of Limpopo, 22 – 24 November 2010. The awards were announced at the conference dinner by Dr Lis Lange, Executive Director of the HEQC, and Dr Brenda Leibowitz, Convenor of the Awards Committee. Professor Ben van Heerden from Stellenbosch University’s Health Sciences Faculty was one of the award winners.
Professor Vivienne Bozalek has been teaching Social Work since 1989 and was the Head of the Social Work Department at UWC for fouryears, and was thereafter appointed as acting Director:Teaching and Learning at that University. She has contributed to policy making bodies about social work as well as the teaching of social work. Despite moving into this post with substantial responsibilities, she remains a passionate teacher on various Masters modules, a member of research teams investigating transformative teaching and a writer of articles and chapters on teaching and learning. Vivienne has enjoyed the experience of being informed, within a ten day period, of receiving the HELTASA/HEQC teaching excellence award, and the Social Work Educator of the Year Award.
Elisabeth Brenner, a biochemist, has been lecturing at the University of the Witwatersrand since the beginning of 1983. Amongst the most successful pedagogies she has implemented are writing intensive courses that use writing during and out of contact periods to promote critical thinking, and the interactive Interwrite PRS (‘clicker’) technology. Dr Brenner was the recipient of the most distinguished teacher award in the Science Faculty in 2003. Due to her ongoing interest in teaching and research in education, she has since completed an MEd in tertiary education, graduating with distinction in 2009. She currently holds the portfolio of undergraduate coordinator and chairperson of the undergraduate committee in the School of Molecular and Cell Biology.
Associate Professor Melissa Steyn, of the Department of Sociology, started her UCT teaching career back in 1988, running courses to senior undergrads and postgrads in what was then the Professional Communication Unit. Since then, she has co-developed and taught on a score of programmes in the Faculty of Humanities, lecturing on topics such as diversity and power dynamics. These are the same issues she also lectures on these days on the full- and part-time MBA courses at the Graduate School of Business. She is director of Intercultural and Diversity Studies at the University of Cape Town. She has published on many aspects of diversity, including race, gender, culture, and sexuality. Melissa is currently directing several national research projects related to identities and transformation in postapartheid South Africa, funded by SANPAD and the NRF.
Professor Ben van Heerden is currently the chairperson of the MB,ChB Programme Committee and Programme Coordinator for the MB,ChB and MPhil in Health Sciences Education programmes. The MPhil is a forerunner in South Africa, and should contribute substantially to the scholarship of teaching and learning in the health sciences. Prof Van Heerden has also been nominated by the Minister of Health to serve on the South African Medical and Dental Professions Board. Prof Van Heerden developed an intense interest in teaching and learning since his appointment as head of the then School of Medicine in 2001 and has been dedicated to teaching and learning for a number of years. His involvement includes activities on undergraduate and postgraduate level, the Health Professions Council of South Africa as well as activities related to the Foundation for the advancement of Medical Education and Research (FAIMER).
Invitations to apply for the award will be sent to all South African public universities in the first semester of 2011. A workshop is scheduled for March 2011 in order to familiarize delegates from each university, especially those who have not participated in the scheme before, with the criteria and processes. Any queries about the awards can be sent to Dr Brenda Leibowitz (firstname.lastname@example.org), Dr Matete Madiba (email@example.com) or Dr Clever Ndebele (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Prof Bezuidenhout receiving the prize on behalf of the winner, Dr Johan Dempers, who could not attend because he was teaching at the time.
(back) Prof Magda Fourie (Vice-Rector Teaching), Dr Ludolph Botha (Senior Director: SAS),
(front) Dr Brenda Leibowitz (Director: CTL), Prof Juanita Bezuidenhout (Dept Anatomical Pathology), Mrs Nicoline Herman (Conference Organiser)
This two-day conference organized by the Centre for Teaching and Learning (SOL) was held at Stellenbosch Lodge on 11 and 12 May with pre-conference workshops held on campus on 10 May. Fifty seven abstracts were accepted for the conference of which four were for poster presentations. The conference was attended by 140 delegates and the participants represented all 10 faculties. The conference was formally opened by Dr Ludolph Botha with the official welcoming by Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof Russel Botman, via video-recording, as he was overseas at the time. The featured speaker on the first day, Ms Ndagire Kizito from UNISA, spoke on the topic of Negotiating meaning around issues of graduateness in SA Higher Education, practices and dilemnas in designing 21st Century Curricula. The plenary sessionbefore lunch introduced the featured speaker Prof Vanessa Burch who is the Chair of Clinical Medicine at the university of Cape Town and recipient of a recent award for teaching practice. Her topic: The scholarship of teaching: my own experience, aimed at demonstrating her journey of academic scholarship in a particularly insightful and interesting manner.
The conference came to an end with a cocktail function and prize giving. During the two days of the conference Dr Ludolph Botha, Ms Ndagire Kizito and Prof Chris Winberg from CPUT were asked to attend short-listed presentations in order to choose a final winner. In the end Dr Johan Dempers from the Department of Anatomical Pathology was announced the overall winner of the award to participate in an international conference on teaching and learning. Prof Juanita Bezuidenhout, who received the award on behalf of her colleague Dr Dempers, remarked with a smile that he was unable to attend the ceremony because he was teaching at the time.
Four other presenters were chosen by the staff members of CTL to participate in the national HELTASA conference – Prof Ashraf Kagee from Psychology, Prof Lynette van Zijl from Mathematics, Ms Ingrid Mostert from IMSTUS and Mr Roelof Baard et al from Accountancy. It was affirming that Dr Dempers also received the most nominations for the “delegate’s choice award”. The prize for the department with the most presentations was won by Curriculum studies.
The conference organisers are looking forward to welcoming SU academics on 17-18 May 2011 at the Lord Charles Hotel, for the the 5th annual event.
For more information on the 2010 SOTL conference, click here
The 12th anniversary of the popular Professional Educational Development Programme for Academics (PRONTAK/PREDAC) was heralded by a record number of participants. A group of 70 newly appointed SU academics attended PREDAC 2010 from 18 to 21 January at the Goudini Conference Centre.
Due to the Soccer World Cup PREDAC will not be repeated in July this year (as usual), and all participants were therefore accommodated during one week in January. "We really struggled to remould the programme in a new format which still allows for maximum participation by all lecturers," says Dr Karin Cattell from the Centre for Teaching and Learning. Dr Cattell took over the running of PREDAC this year. The programme was presented in mainly parallel sessions for the first time. Another new aspect of PREDAC was the 'RGA' that was set up for the participants for the duration of the programme.
The participants represented 10 faculties and 32 departments (including Elsenburg) at SU. Their teaching experience ranged from 23 years to none. The PREDAC programme took this diversity into account by covering a wide variety of topics, such as the SU context, planning a module (outcomes and assessment), and promoting student learning (how to engage students' minds). The introduction of four electives, which included teaching effectively with emerging technologies and research into teaching, was another new initiative instituted this year.
Faculty representatives Profs. Juanita Bezuidenhout, Johann de Villiers, Hennie Kotzé and Doug Rawlings lead a panel discussion on the three roles of an academic at SU. In addition the three vice-rectors - Profs. Magda Fourie, Arnold van Wyk and Julian Smith - alternately discussed teaching, research and community interaction at SU with participants over dinner. "What I found especially interesting and helpful about this year's PREDAC programme was the opportunity to exchange ideas with new lecturers in an informal way, and to be made aware of their frustrations and expectations," Prof. Fourie remarked.
The participants' feedback also indicated that they found PREDAC a valuable experience. "A wonderful learning and networking opportunity," said one lecturer, and another commented: "By inviting me to PREDAC the university was showing that it really wanted to invest in me as an individual and as a member of a community. I really appreciated this, and felt appreciated. As an employee over the years, I had never experienced this before."
The PREDAC short course consists of three modules of which the participants have completed Module 1. The other two modules extend to the end of the year, and consist of class visits upon request, participation in workshops and focused interest groups (FIGs), and a mini-conference specifically for PREDAC participants in November. Participants can also compile a portfolio of their work and take part in a mentor programme during the year.
The students who were honoured for their exceptional academic achievements at the annual First-year Academy Prestige Evening, have a responsibility to use their talents and knowledge to further the academic image of the university and also to contribute to the development of South Africa.
This was the message that Prof Russel Botman, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University (SU) shared with students and lecturers at the third annual First-year Academy Prestige Evening held at the Neethlingshof wine estate.This special gathering is held every year to acknowledge the scholastic achievements of students who have made Stellenbosch their academic home.
The students, from all ten faculties, were asked before the event to indicate in writing which lecturer had, in their opinion, made the greatest contribution to their success during their first year at Stellenbosch University. These lecturers were also invited to respond in writing to the letters of the students who had nominated them.
According to Prof Magda Fourie, Vice-Rector (Teaching), is it clear that, according to the top achievers, the two most prominent trademarks of good lecturers are exceptional knowledge of their subject, and a concern for their students. “All the knowledge in the world won’t contribute to a student’s success if the lecturer does not have the ability to transfer that knowledge”.
The evening, which was held for the third time this year, was once again a great success. Our special thanks to our sponsors, Steinhoff, for making this event possible.
The Centre for Teaching and Learning presented the annual Spring Teaching Academy from 27 to 29 October 2009 on the SU campus. This series of workshops on professional teaching took place in the Arts and Social Sciences building.
The workshops covered a wide spectrum of topics, among which were "Teaching Effectively with Web2.0" (presented by JP Bosman), "Getting Useful Answers to Interesting Questions: Researching Education" (Francois Cilliers and Susan van Schalkwyk), "'Quick & Dirty' Feedback on Student Assessment" (Hanelie Adendorff and Nicoline Herman), and "Tools for e-Formative Assessment" (Marinda van Rooyen and Hanelie Adendorff). Modules 3 and 4 of the Assessment short course - which was recently declared an official SU short course - were also presented. Participants who completed this course will receive an SU certificate.
The workshops varied in length from three hours to a full day. They were attended by SU staff members from the SU and Tygerberg campuses, the Military Academy and Elsenburg.
As part of the Spring Teaching Academy, Dr Wendy McMillan from the University of the Western Cape presented a workshop on 29 October entitled "Getting your Educational Research Published". This full-day workshop provided advice to lecturers who want to publish their educational research.
Feedback from participants after the workshops showed that they found it both helpful and enjoyable. The theoretical and practical inputs by the facilitators and the collaboration with colleagues met with much appreciation. One participant remarked enthusiastically that the workshop "'Quick & Dirty' Feedback on Student Assessment" demonstrated how students could be taught to take ownership of their learning. Another participant described the "Teaching Effectively with Web2.0" workshop as "indispensable" and thought that Web2.0 should form an "integral part of learning and teaching". Participants were also positive about the opportunities to discuss teaching issues with colleagues - the knowledge that others experience similar challenges, reduces the feeling of isolation that lecturers often mention.
The interest in this series of workshops confirmed again that lecturers at SU continuously utilise opportunities to develop the potential of teaching and learning at this institution. A survey will be done among the participants to ensure that the organisation of the workshops meets staff members' requirements.
The Spring Teaching Academy takes place annually in October. Should you have any queries or suggestions for workshops, please feel free to contact Karin Cattell (email@example.com; X3074).
The HELTASA (Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa) Foundations Special Interest Group recently hosted a colloquium on the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for Extended Degree Programme (EDP) students. The event was held at Cape Peninsula University of Technology's picturesque Granger Bay Campus. It was attended by representatives from the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape, Cape Peninsula University of Technology and Stellenbosch University. The Stellenbosch University contingent consisted of 7 staff members, 3 of whom were involved in presentations.
The purpose of the colloquium was to explore the possibilities offered by ICTs for providing support to EDP students. It offered both training presentations focusing on the possibilities for innovative use of new technologies and parallel presentations focusing on examples of "best practice". In the training sessions representatives were introduced to the potential of podcasting, digital storytelling using Audacity, Google applications (Google chat), the use of Clickers and Open Educational Resources. The papers on "best practice" included presentations on Blogging, the use of Mxit for teaching and learning purposes and the use of tablet PCs. JP Bosman and Mégan Burgoyne from Stellenbosch University's Centre for Teaching and Learning shared the University's First-year Blog with representatives. They explored ways in which the Blog, as a repository of student experiences, can be used to improve the teaching and learning of EDP students. Marinda van Rooyen, also from the Centre for Teaching and Learning, showed how, through the use of the Hot Potatoes software, online assessments can be transformed into learning events.
It was clear from the colloquium that ICTs offer unlimited opportunities, not just for the teaching and learning of EDP students but of all students. Anyone interested in the use of these technologies or with a need to employ the technologies in their own contexts can contact JP Bosman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
"It's an excellent conference. The presentations are of a high standard and even better than those of the previous conference last year".
This is how one of the delegates, who attended the third annual Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference that took place from 19-20 May at the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West, described her experience. The two-day Conference was organised by the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and attracted over 140 delegates from all ten faculties at Stellenbosch University (SU). Presented papers addressed various themes ranging from Teaching in the Arts and Social Sciences and e-Learning/innovation to Teaching strategies and Assessment.
(back) Prof Geo Quinot, Prof David Hollgate, Prof Ashraf Kagee, Prof Arnold van Zyl (front) Dr Hanelie Adendorff, Prof Marietjie de Villiers, Prof Magda Fourie
This Conference, which could really be seen as a celebration of teaching, provides an opportunity for lecturers to share their best teaching practices, research on their teaching and innovative ideas about teaching and learning. In addition, it also serves as a forum for academics to debate burning issues in higher education, interact and network with colleagues and gain insights and practical ideas for innovation in their teaching and research.
The conference started with a welcome by the Rector of SU, Prof Russel Botman. During the conference, keynote speeches were delivered by Prof Ray Land, Director of the Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow and Dr Lis Lange, the Executive Director of the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) of South Africa. Prof Land's presentation was entitled Graduates for the 21st Century: engaging students through troublesome knowledge while Dr Lange's keynote address was entitled Relevance, Citizenship and Morality.
Prof Land's address on day one was followed by four parallel sessions filled with scholarly, innovative and reflective presentations by SU academics. The day concluded with an informative panel discussion on New Learning Spaces for New Challenges. Mr Stefan van der Walt (Applied Mathematics), Mr Pieter Kloppers (Student Affairs), Dr Annemarie Grundlingh (Faculty of Engineering), and Dr Antoinette van der Merwe (ITS) spoke about the in-class, out-of-class, beyond the class and the virtual experiences of our students, respectively.
The high-quality presentations continued on Day Two. Besides various interesting papers, a panel discussion, poster presentations and roundtable discussion added to the rich variety on offer. The panel discussion focused on Teaching in Higher Education as Citizenship. Panelists included Prof Johan Hattingh (Philosophy), Prof Juanita Bezuidenhout (Pathology) and Dr Ronelle Carolissen (Psychology). Tutorials in Natural Science was the topic of the roundtable discussion. Discussants here included Prof Ed Jacobs (Chemistry), Dr Theresa Wossler (Biology) and Dr Marietjie Lutz (Chemistry). The session devoted to formal poster presentations, included four posters titled An Experience of Creating a Complete Learning Experience; The Engaged Institution: An Innovative Framework for Teaching and Learning; Refinement of Foundation Phase in Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Curriculum (Phase I) Based on Initial Perspectives of Students and Lecturers; and Innovative Sexuality Education, respectively.
The post-lunch session, an interactive discussion and critical conversation, skillfully chaired by Prof Geo Quinot (Public Law) resulted in a vibrant exchange of thoughts and opinions. Opening the lively discussion were panelists Prof Marietjie de Villiers (Vice-Dean Teaching: Faculty of Health Sciences), Prof Ashraf Kagee (Dept of Psychology), Prof David Holgate (Dept of Mathematics) and Dr Hanelie Adendorff (Centre for Teaching and Learning). The often controversial topic - Teaching Research: a Niche Area for SU? - saw challenging questions and creative scenarios posed to panelists. The sincere and attentive nature in which Prof Magda Fourie (Vice-Rector Teaching) and Prof Arnold van Zyl (Vice-Rector Research) addressed the issues was appreciated by all who attended. To quote but one participant immediately afterwards: 'Now this was really useful!'.
During the course of the two days, three judges Prof Land, Dr Ludolph Botha, Senior Director: Academic Support and Prof Suellen Shay from the University of Cape Town attended the thirteen shortlisted sessions to establish who would win the customary prize for the best paper. According to Prof Land, there were many quality papers on the short list, but in the end their decision was unanimous. It was Prof Eugene Cloete, Dean of the Faculty of Natural Science, who turned out as the worthy winner. In Prof Cloete's presentation, entitled Innovation in presenting first year Microbiology practicals, he gave delegates a guided tour of his unique 'online textbook' as well as a novel solution to overcrowded first year laboratories.
On 21 May, five post-conference workshops were presented. The only full-day workshop, Research in Education, was facilitated by Dr Francois Cilliers, Dr Brenda Leibowitz and Ms Liezel de Waal. The workshop entitled Academic Leadership: A Fourth Dimension was facilitated by Prof Jan Botha (Senior Director: Institutional Research and Planning), Dr Susan van Schalkwyk and Mrs Nicoline Herman while Dr Hanelie Adendorff and Dr JP Bosman facilitated Effective Use of Multiple Choice Questions Including Possibilities in WebStudies. Dr Bosman also presented a workshop entitled Turnitin: A Sharp Assessment Tool Against Plagiarism. The last workshop on offer, Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: a Transformative Approach to Learning was facilitated by Prof Land.
In just a few years, Stellenbosch University's Conference on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning has gone from a humble Teaching Day to a fully-fledged Conference which has earned its place on the University calendar. The conference organisers keenly anticipate welcoming all SU academic staff to this exclusive event in 2010.
"Conferences are great opportunities to network and generally to come back to your place of work a 'smarter person'", are the words of Prof Mark Schofield, keynote speaker at the Blackboard Africa User Conference. This year's conference was no different, and all Stellenbosch delegates returned more connected and wiser. The Stellenbosch team included three staff members from the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) (Mrs Marinda van Rooyen, Mr Morris Samuels and Dr JP Bosman), three staff members from the Division of Information Technology (Mr Johann Kistner, Mrs Ciska Marais and Mr Gerhard van Wageningen), Ms Marsunet Scholtz (Webstudies Support at the Stellenbosch University Business School) and Dr Antoinette van der Merwe of Interactive Telematic Services. Dr Van der Merwe and Dr Bosman took on the role of 'Matie Mythbusters', and presented the results of recent student (November 2007) and lecturer (March 2008) surveys on e-learning and ebstudies. Mrs van Rooyen presented a concept of 'e-formative assessment' with the use of Scorm-compliant tools such as Adobe Captivate and Hot Potatoes integrated within webstudies. Mr Samuels spoke about how knowledge-management and sense-making theories impact and support his work at the Webstudies Helpdesk.
Good quality papers and the opportunity to network with our colleagues from other universities, as well as with our national and international business partners, made the conference a valuable experience. To hear and see how e-learning in all South African institutions has grown over the past couple of years, and how the focus on good teaching and learning practices in e-learning is starting to bear fruit, gave all of us a renewed sense of purpose and energy. The initiative to start a South African e-learning user group that can collaborate with regard to emerging technologies such as e-portfolios, integrated mobile learning and Web 2.0 applications will also have a positive impact on the participating institutions long after the conference has ended.
One aspect in which Stellenbosch stood out is the almost unprecedented co-operation between Webstudies of CTL and IT. Stellenbosch was the only university where the IT, or technical e-learning support team, also came to the conference, and the good relationship between CTL and IT was something that drew many positive remarks. It was striking that so many other universities complained about a lack of co-operation with IT and about major issues with IT infrastructure and related support.
The topic of the address of keynote speaker Prof Mark Schofield (Edge Hill University, United Kingdom, and director of the Solstice Centre) was: VLE (virtual learning environment) - yes or no? His answer is yes, provided that it is used correctly. The focus should be on learning first and then on the technology. Some of the important points he made were: (a) go beyond dumping content in the VLE and rather create rich, deep learning experiences (through creating a climate of trust and interactivity and utilising pedagogical frameworks such as social constructivism); (b) technology does little on its own; (c) use a specific pedagogic model and a learning focus in the VLE (such as his Solstice model of Purpose + Audience = Form); (d) motivate and empower staff; (e) do anything that encourages more than superficial reading, watching or listening; and (f) avoid a technology versus pedagogy divide.
E-learning is alive and well in South Africa, and there is a general consensus that it has now reached a 'plateau of productivity' and quality of the highest standard. The focus on teaching and learning in the discipline has paid off and everybody is looking forward to more collaboration (which includes the formation of a South African user group) and joint innovation in the field.
Outstanding lectures evidently succeed to make an impression on students on both a professional and personal level." These were the words of Prof Magda Fourie, Vice-Rector: Teaching at the Rector's First-year Academy Prestige Evening held earlier this week.
According to Prof Fourie, the two outstanding characteristics of good lectures, according to students, are their exceptional knowledge of their subject and their approachability and 'care' towards students.
The gala event, held at Neethlingshof, is held to acknowledge the academic achievements of thirty students first year students (now in their second year of study).
(fltr) Ms Ivona Contardo, Mr Jaco Coetzee, Prof Russel Botman (Rector), Ms Karen Smith, Ms Meghan Rogers.
Prior to the event each student had to indicate, in writing, which lecturer they felt had made the greatest contribution to their success during their first year at Stellenbosch University. These lecturers were, in turn, invited to attend the dinner and to respond, also in writing, to the students that had nominated them.
TWO lecturers, Ms Ivona Contardo Statistics Actuarial Science, and Dr Andrew Fransman the Department of Mathematical Sciences, were each nominated by three students.
According to Prof Fourie, good lecturers mastered the art of having their teaching find a connection with the world of students. As an example she quoted a student who said: "Sjokolade, 'gym' en Amy Winehouse: hierdie drie begrippe is genoeg om alle ekonomiese fenomene en tendense aan driehonderd eerstejaarstudente te verklaar," (Chocolate, gym and Amy Winehouse: these three concepts is enough to explain all economic phenomena and trends to three hundred first year students) and another student who said: "Your unique and interactive teaching method ensured our constant attention, even on Thursday mornings, and I'm sure your clear, concise explanations aided understanding for many of us."
According to Prof Fourie, the lecturers not only made an influence on the top performing students as academics, but also as human beings. "A large number of the students were role models for the students. A student said: "Dit het my baie beïndruk hoe u ons almal leer ken het en met respek behandel het. U was toeganklik, maar kon terselfdertyd respek afdwing."(It impressed me greatly how you got to know all of us and treated us with respect. You were approachable, but at the same time you commanded our respect.)
Photo: (back) Mrs Nicolene Herman, Miss Liezel de Waal, Dr Antoinette van der Merwe. (front) Dr Susan van Schalkwyk, Mr Abe Pieterse
According to Prof Fourie there are two characteristics of top performing students that stand out: natural intelligence and hard work. Lecturers made mention of students' insight into a subject, that they always wanted to delve deeper, their steadfast goals and their vision.
The Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Russel Botman, welcomed guests and said that it was an event to celebrate excellence. "We are often asked what we do and how we, in spite of the predictions, all the facts and all the presumptions of students of a certain background not having a chance of academic success, manage to have them study successfully. The answer is that we have a pedagogy of hope. We believe that we can have success in spite of reality."
Every student who "knocks on the door of the University," Prof Botman said, arrives with a set of values, with a certain background and with a certain reality. For that student to study successfully, "we have to accept that reality as a given and take it to what is possible." He also said that the biggest asset of Stellenbosch University is not its money, "but simply the team that we are and that we work from the reality to that which is possible."
The idea for this initiative, which was a joint venture between the students from the Academic Affairs Council and the First-year Academy, originated with Dr Betty Siegel who visited the University as a guest of Prof Botman in 2007. Dr Siegel shared the success that such an event had at her home institution, Kennesaw State University, Atlanta, and the concept was soon adapted to suit the context of Stellenbosch University.
Dr Susan van Schalkwyk, Coordinator of the First-Year Academy, said that although it is only the second time that the event is held, the effect is already visible on campus. "In line with the vision of the First-Year Academy to better the success rate of first-years significantly, the event plays an important role. Not only does it inspire the students to keep on achieving academically, but is the foundation also laid for the development of the next generation of outstanding scientists, researchers and even business leaders.
A group of 54 newly appointed academics participated in the Professional and Educational Development Programme for Academics (PRONTAK/PREDAC) at Goudini Conference Centre from 19 - 22 January and again from 26 - 29 January. The participants completed module 1 of the short course.
This module of the short course will be repeated again in July to accommodate the more than 90 newly appointed academics who were nominated by their departments to participate in PRONTAK/PREDAC 2009.
The participants represented nine of the 10 faculties at Stellenbosch University and their teaching experience ranged from 20 years to no experience at all. Although the week's programme was very full and sometimes tiring, the participants also had time to walk in the mountains, swim in the pools, enjoy the environment and network with colleagues from different departments.
During the rest of the year other PRONTAK/ PREDAC modules consisting of class visits upon invitation, participation in workshops, discussions, special interest groups (SIGs) and a mini conference towards the end of the year are available for participants. In addition, participants can also choose to compile a portfolio of their work and participate in a mentoring programme during the year.