On Friday, 04 November 2022, the University’s Centre for Higher Education, Teaching and Learning (CHETL) in the office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Teaching and Learning held the Teaching and Learning Day at Kalahari Waterfront to honour, celebrate and recognise academic staff members. This Teaching and Learning Day was held under the theme ‘Transformation for sustainable teaching and learning scholarship in a comprehensive university.’
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Teaching and Learning, Prof Jan Crafford indicated that this Teaching and Learning Day did not take place in the past four years due to COVID-19 lockdown challenges and the University saw a need to continue with it this year. Prof Crafford said during COVID-19 pandemic, the University was doing well because like many other universities, UNIVEN shifted its teaching to virtual platforms. “During COVID-19 pandemic, we have learned a lot of things of which we were not even aware. The University is now on the multimodal teaching approach, but some modules can still be taught online. Online teaching implies engaging with students. Do not just put material online and expect students to do everything by themselves.” Prof Crafford said that teaching and learning is one of the aspects of the core business of the university and it should be taken serious like any other core businesses of all universities.
Director CHETL, Dr Lindiwe Mulaudzi said this event was to recognise those who teach and make sure that students are taught and learn. She said her office applauds those who are doing well in the academic field. “We are here to celebrate our lecturers who do their work diligently despite many obstacles. We are also here to celebrate our students who soldier on despite the unfamiliar territories and the challenges that they encounter. Studies illustrate a higher degree of emotional and psychological challenges among our students since the COVID-19 impact. The next question could be: What do we do when we celebrate? We look back and appreciate where we are.”
“We introspect; our students and lecturers in today’s programme will assist us in this regard. We plan forward; we need to remind ourselves of what Alvin Toffler says about the illiterates of the 21st century. He says Illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. It is our duty to learn, relearn and unlearn as we plan, and our guest speakers are here to assist us in this regard. We need to appreciate the journey we have travelled and where we are today.” Dr Mulaudzi invited attendees to imagine where they want to be in the next 15 years.
Ms Munyayi represented students living with disabilities. In her message of appreciation, Ms Munyayi said the most challenging issue for people living with disabilities at UNIVEN is that there are lot of buildings that are still inaccessible on campus. She said the biggest challenge and the University can assist people with disabilities by addressing these challenges but again some of the old buildings were built without people with disabilities in mind. She said recent buildings accommodate them and are easily accessible.
Other students who spoke during the event included Mr Tanganedzani Musandiwa who highlighted the importance of mental-health issues students struggle with. Mr Musandiwa indicated that students come from diverse backgrounds with different challenges such as depression and suicidal thoughts amongst many other mental conditions, which often lead to students resorting to substance use and abuse. Furthermore, he indicated that dealing with mental health issues often requires consistency, patience, and willingness to receive the help on the part of students. He further showed his appreciation for services rendered by SCCDU to support students in need of such assistance.
Maswanganyi Matimu Cavin was among other students who were given an opportunity to speak about their experiences at UNIVEN. These students appreciated the presence of teachers in class. They said this has made their lives easier. They further indicated that tutors should also be taken care of because they contribute towards creating future leaders.
Dr Cebisa Nesamvuni representing Teaching Advancement at Universities (TAU) Fellowship participants indicated that TAU Fellowship currently has seven members. She said TAU Fellowship started in 2015/2016 and takes the form of residential and distance learning and runs from July to June. She outlined all operations of TAU where she indicated that TAU Fellowship project has aligned itself with the academic programme of the University. Its focus is on student support, curriculum development and other academic activities. Only academic staff members with PhD and extensive experience in teaching and learning can be nominated into this programme.
Prof Paul Prinsloo from Unisa said the transformation process in higher education is to redefine educational services. He further indicated that the full potential of these technologies is yet to be discovered, but their impact on teaching and learning is expected to be huge. “This means higher education sector might be affected more than other sectors and education sectors need these technologies earlier than other sectors. We rent these spaces that we use to teach and learn.” He indicated that there are owners of these spaces. “We are renting all these online teaching and learning platforms, we don’t own them, and we also need to know what is in it for them.” Amongst other things Prof Prinsloo discussed the use of social media in the academic spaces.
Prof Sheila Matoti from Central University of Technology (CUT) virtually presented about the scholarship of teaching and learning. Amongst other things, Prof Matoti spoke about Centre for Scholarly Teaching (CST); Scholarship of Teaching and Learning; Challenges in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and creating communities of practice. She proposed collaboration between UNIVEN and CUT on teaching and learning projects.
Head of E-Learning, Mr Willie Xazela said nominees had to meet certain standards before they could be nominated into these awards. Mr Xazela further said winners were awarded according to e-learning policy.
The first criteria of the awards was the E-Learning Policy which requires minimum online presence for all UNIVEN course modules on Moodle LMS. These include four categories listed below:
(i) Gold Category: Awarded to an individual with four or more course modules meeting Online Minimum Presence on Moodle LMS as per the E-Learning Policy. Nobody qualified for this category.
(ii) Silver Category: Awarded to an individual with three course modules meeting Online Minimum Presence on Moodle LMS as per the E-Learning Policy.
(iii) Bronze Category: Awarded to an individual with one course module meeting Online Minimum Presence on Moodle LMS as per the E-Learning Policy.
(iv) Shared Courses Category: Awarded to lectures who are co-teaching in online modules that meet Online Minimum Presence on the Moodle LMS as per the E-Learning Policy.
The second criteria was based on online teaching consistency and rich usage of different online teaching tools, activities and engagement in the online environment in online course modules on Moodle LMS. A learning analytics system was used to generate the list of champions meeting the requirements given the criteria. There were categories of:
(i) E-Learning Champions for consistency in online teaching for years 2020 to June 2022.
Iii) E-Learning Champions for first Semester 2022
He explained categories for selecting users. “We also looked at the consistencies of users until end of the 2022 first semester.
In her vote of thanks message, Head: Disabled Student Unit, Dr Tshifhiwa Mbuvha indicated that these E-Learning awards ceremony was held for the first time at UNIVEN.
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Date: 17 November 2022