Friday, 2 October 2015

The First International Conference on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

The Central University of Technology (CUT) held the 1st International Conference on Scholarship of
The conference opened with a song
Teaching and Learning on 1 - 2 October 2015. This was a lively and well attended conference, mainly by academics at the University, though with colleagues from several neighboring universities as well. There were 5 keynote speakers, also from CUT and outside. Jane McKenzie gave a valuable
presentation of how SOTL is encouraged at the University of Glasgow and Merja Alanko-Turunen from the Haaga Helia University of Applied Science in Helsinki spoke about how pedagogic and reflective practice are advanced at her institution. She had some novel ideas that are worth considering. I have  embedded my own presentation, which showcases the work of the SOTL @ UJ project, and argues for a strongly social justice perspective on SOTL.


The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning - A social justice perspective from Brenda Leibowitz

Yunnus Ballim, the Vice-Chancellor at the new Sol Plaatje university, gave a talk entitled, "Reflecting epistemological access and the analytical frameworks guiding institutional responses to student learning in South African higher education". He was strongly critical of the way the term 'epistemological access is used', and the extended curriculum initiative and the many assumptions this initiative contains that he holds to be illogical. This echoes points made in an article by Leibowitz and Bozalek:  Leibowitz, B. and Bozalek, V. (2015) Foundation provision - A social justice perspective, South African Journal of Higher Education, 29 (1) 8 – 25.  He also makes the point that transformation is about excellence, and that a university that graduates deeply racist students for example the creators of the Reitz video at Free State University "cannot call itself a university". I am sure this is not meant to cast aspersions on the present leadership or situation at UFS, but rather, to make a rhetorical point about the purpose of the curriculum and graduate outcomes. 

Isaac Ntshoe gave a talk entitled "Theorizing Curricula and Pedagogy of Professional and Sector Fields of Practice: Beyond a metatheoretical discourse". He made a call for advantaging our students by giving them access to powerful (and theoretical) knowledge.
James Swart, Jane McKenzie, Mabokang Monnapula-Mapesela, me, Merja Alanko-Turunen and Isaac Ntshoe

The first day was chaired by James Swart from the Engineering Faculty. Evidence of his enthusiasm for teaching and SOTL is the fact that this year he has received a commendation from the CHE/HELTASA National Teaching Excellence Awards (there are five awards and six commendations). 

There were 48 papers in parallel sessions. Although some presentations were from colleagues from other universities such as the University of Fort Hare and the new University of Mpumalanga, the overwhelming majority were by academics at CUT. These are the result of a concerted strategy at the university to encourage the SOTL. It is an impressive strategy launched by the Dean of Academic Development and Support at CUT, Mabokang Monnapula-Mapesela, who made a presentation about this project. The project is managed by Isaac Ntshoe. Key components of the strategy is that academics apply to become participants in the scheme; they are entitled to certain developmental opportunities; they are assigned to a mentor; there is a series of workshops; and there was this conference itself. A special issue of the CUT-based journal, New Generation Sciences, is to follow. This strategy makes use of Teaching Development Grant funds. - It might be one that other universities wish to follow? 

1 comment: