Welcome to the iKudu Project
Dr Segun Obadire
Acting Director: International Relations
What is the iKudu Project?
The iKudu project is an EU-funded Capacity Building in Higher Education (CBHE) project, which will be implemented over a three-year period from 15 November 2019 to 14 November 2022. It is coordinated by the University of the Free State and has the University of Antwerp (Belgium) as co-coordinator. The consortium has been awarded EUR999 881 (approximately R16 million) in funding from the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme.
The iKudu project has been conceptualised to develop a contextualised South African concept of Internationalisation of the Curriculum (IoC), which integrates Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) virtual exchanges. The concept will allow South African partner universities to become the country’s leading HEIs in IoC, curriculum transformation, and COIL virtual exchanges. Curriculum decolonisation is understood as a central aspect of curriculum transformation. COIL virtual exchanges will provide an alternative to physical mobility, which cannot be implemented on a broad basis in SA, due to the country’s socioeconomic realities. At the heart of the project is staff capacity development, as it will produce a group of trained teaching staff who will have access to an international and local pool of knowledge, skills, and expertise in the relevant areas.
What is iKudu’s focus?
iKudu will focus on developing a contextualised South African concept of Internationalisation of the Curriculum (IoC), which integrates Cooperative Online International Learning (COIL) virtual exchanges.
Internationalisation of the Curriculum (IoC)
Internationalisation of the Curriculum (IoC) in South Africa (SA) remains largely in the developmental stage. The Erasmus+ CBHE IMPALA project (Internationalisation and Modernisation Programme for Academics, Leaders and Administrators, coordinated by the University of Antwerp 2015-2019) revealed that there is a distinct lack of capacity for IoC in South African higher education institutions (HEIs). In SA, IoC will in the near future become mandatory in terms of the Policy Framework for Internationalisation of Higher Education in South Africa (South African Government Gazette No 40815 of 28 April 2017). The latest draft of this policy document stipulates that “higher education institutions must internationalise their curricula in order to provide an alternative mode of internationalisation that can overcome the limitations inherent in international mobility schemes that remain accessible to a minority of students.”
Curriculum internationalisation is conceptualised in line with contemporary global, arguably Western thinking, as the “incorporation of international, intercultural and/or global dimensions into the content of the curriculum as well as into the learning outcomes, assessment tasks, teaching methods and support services of a programme of study” and considered in the context of internationalisation at home (I@H), which is defined as “the intentional integration of international and intercultural dimensions into the formal and informal curriculum for all students, within domestic learning environments”. The awaited Policy Framework directs that IoC “must not negate curriculum transformation imperatives which higher education institutions in South Africa have an obligation to fulfil”. Mandatory IoC will require institutions to embark on a journey to build capacity in order to implement IoC within the context of curriculum transformation.
COIL virtual exchange
What is COIL?
COIL is an innovative teaching and learning initiative that promotes the development of intercultural competence across shared multicultural learning environments using Internet-based tools and online pedagogies. While a key element of COIL is the intentional development of intercultural communicative competence, another benefit is the development of digital and critical literacies as well as foreign language skills (where applicable) and interdisciplinary approaches (where applicable). The teaching staff facilitates new knowledge creation competencies and acquisition of various skills to further enhance the development of the students as well as attitudes – to live and work in a multicultural and interconnected world. Some of the iKudu partner universities (DUT, Univen, and UL) have developed COIL capacity through the now completed IMPALA project.
The COIL virtual exchanges take place solely in a virtual space, embedded in individual courses/modules that may be fully online or offered in blended formats with traditional face-to-face sessions taking place at both universities. It involves bi- or multilateral partner universities, university teachers, professional support services and students, and fosters meaningful exchanges with peers in different geographic locations and from a different lingua-cultural background based on mutuality. Courses/modules integrating COIL virtual exchanges create spaces for teaching staff to develop a shared curriculum that emphasises experiential and collaborative student-centred learning. For iKudu, the COIL virtual exchanges take place as short interventions within existing modules. The impact of its implementation will be the threshold which would require recurriculation.
The Methodology/Project Description
WG1: Internationalisation of the Curriculum (leader: Jos Beelen)
WG2: Planning, developing, and implementing COIL virtual exchange projects within institutions (leaders: Jon Rubin and Eva Haug)
WG3: Planning, developing, and implementing training programmes (this working group will only become operational at a later stage of the project).
All partner universities will participate and contribute towards the member WGs, comprising SC members and the other executive, academic, and administrative professionals, identified and assigned at the discretion of each of the universities. We divided the project into three phases. The WGs will be active throughout the project. Synergy between the WGs will be encouraged through the involvement of the SC in the project’s yearly workshops, where WGs will engage, share reports, and adopt insights for successful progression to the next phase. The SC will annually report to all WGs and relevant stakeholders. The WGs will be active throughout the time span of the project, from conception to completion.
Our consortium consists of 10 universities:
- University of the Free State, South Africa (coordinator);
- University of Antwerp, Belgium (co-coordinator);
- University of Siena, Italy;
- Coventry University, UK;
- The Hague University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands;
- Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands;
- Central University of Technology, South Africa;
- Durban University of Technology, South Africa;
- University of Limpopo, South Africa;
- University of Venda, South Africa.
Underlying the formation of this consortium is the long-standing partnership between the University of Antwerp and the University of the Free State. Previously, the UFS was a partner in the EUROSA mobility consortium coordinated by Antwerp. Personal relationships have enabled the successful proposal-writing process. Particularly the personal relationships established during the EUROSA mobility partnership and the completed IMPALA capacity-building project provided the trust capital, which made the project-writing process possible.